The Pranayama Breathing Posture
Many of the poses (asanas) in Bikram are loved – but the Pranayama breathing posture is perhaps one of the most popular. It feels great and it can be great fun to perform. It offers immediate release, and it brings us to our practice almost instantly in a calm and centred way.
Pranayama is an ancient Sanksrit word that means ‘breath work’. In this pose, we’re focusing on taking deep, healing breaths. These help to cleanse, open, energize, and heal the body. We are also resetting the breathing pattern so that we are more likely to breathe deeply and smoothly during the entire session.
The posture in practice
The Standing Deep Breathing pose has several components to it. The first is posture. We take on a tall, centered, and stable pose to help ground our bodies and to get connected to the Earth below us. This posture helps us calibrate our balance and prepare our brains for fine movements through all the poses.
We then focus on the next component, breath. The specific breathing technique taught at Bikram studios helps flush the respiratory system with fresh, pure air while allowing old air to escape completely. It also opens the chest cavity and drops the breathing down to the belly. Sounds, hand gestures, and movements in the body are all used along with the breath in order to facilitate an immersive experience. Everything you learn in this posture can be used inside and outside of class whenever you might need it.
Benefits of Pranayama Breathing
Pranayama exercises are used throughout India in yoga and ayurveda to help with breathing issues, tightness in the chest, congestion and better lung function overall. For those of us in the modern world who are exposed to pollutants all day, these exercises help foster deep, smooth breathing that allows the body and mind to work in unison towards health. Other benefits include:
- Releases anxiety and built up stress.
- Helps create focus and improve concentration.
- Relaxes body and mind.
- Can help improve blood circulation.