We know that breathing—where oxygen is exchanged for waste products—is necessary for life. In yoga practice, breathing is known as Pranayama, one of the 8 limbs of yoga. Prana means “breath,” or “energy,” and Ayama means to “pause” or “retain.” Pranayama, then, is particular ways that we inhale and exhale and incorporate breath retention to practice rhythmic breathing.
In yoga, we practice deep, rhythmic breathing. This type of breathing calms our minds, relaxes our nerves, and sends positive energy throughout our bodies. Deep, rhythmic breathing can be practiced at any time, anywhere. We can practice deep, rhythmic breathing if we are on bed rest, sitting in traffic, typing on a computer, or exercising at the gym.
The video below demonstrates deep, rhythmic breathing that you can try on your own. As we begin to learn our deep breathing practice, start slow with 4 simple, deep breaths at a time, maybe 2 times a day. Over time, notice how you feel before and after your deep breathing. Do you find yourself taking deep breaths when you feel stressed, nervous, or scared? How do you feel after taking the deep breaths?
When you feel ready, find qualified, reputable instruction in deep breathing practices. Because deep, rhythmic breathing circulates prana throughout our bodies, we must respect that energy and practice deep breathing mindfully.
Lisa Marie Bernardo, PhD, MPH, RN, HFS
This blog highlights the current evidence for integrating yoga into cancer care. Strategies for practicing the eight-limbs of yoga are posted and shared. Video links allow for demonstration of yoga practices that benefit everyone.
Lisa Marie Bernardo, PhD, RN, is a registered yoga teacher (RYT). She serves as a co-investigator on research projects related to yoga in women with osteopenia and individuals at risk for type-2 diabetes. Dr. Bernardo is an ACSM-certified Cancer Exercise Trainer and Health Fitness Specialist. She maintains a private practice in mind-body fitness using yoga, Stott-Pilates, and Gyrotonic to serve individuals with special healthcare needs.