The fourth limb of Yoga means breath (prana) control (ayama). It is a set of breathing techniques that alter the breath to produce specific results. It is believed that it not only rejuvenates the body but also actually extends life itself. The three steps of Pranayama include:
Inhalation helps intake enough oxygen, retention enables the system to acquire the oxygen and exhalation removes the impurities from the body.
Some of the benefits of this practice are:
Below are a few of the Pranayama Breathing Techniques.
- Complete Belly Breath
- Hand on belly
- Slowly inhale through the nose
- Hold breath
- Exhale gently
- Alternate Nostril Breathing – Great when you are feeling anxious
- Right thumb to right nostril, inhale
- Lift pinky to left nostril, exhale
- Continue for 3-5 mins
- Ocean’s Breath – Great when you are angry
- Deep inhale through nose
- Exhale constricting the throat muscles
- Energizing Breath – Great when feeling sluggish or down
- Quick forceful breaths
Pranayama can be done by itself or while doing Asanas.