Of the eight limbs of yoga, the limb called Pranayama relates to the measuring, control and directing of the breath. This is the first of five posts highlighting this practice.
This very important limb of yoga goes hand and hand with asana, or physical poses, and is considered to be the highest form of purification and self-discipline for the mind and body respectively.
The practices of pranayama produce the actual physical sensation of heat, called tapas, or the inner fire of purification.
As the yogi follows the proper rhythmic patterns of breathing, the patterns themselves strengthen the respiratory system, soothe the nervous system, and reduce cravings. The mind is then set free to become a proper vehicle for concentration and meditation.
Today's practice will invite your participation in breathwork as a living prayer.
The four posts to follow this one will offer additional specific techniques.
Todays Simple Step
You can sit or stand, but do find a quiet place to practice.
Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath.
Notice your inhale, long and cool.
Experience your exhale, deep and warm.
With each breath, invoke this simple prayer offered by Thick Nhat Hanh:
Breathing in, I calm... (inhale)
Breathing out, I smile. (exhale)
Present moment... (inhale)
Wonderful moment. (exhale)
Remain still and reflective with your practice for several rounds of breath.
This is today's simple step.
Till next time,