1 April 2024The benefits of breathwork and pranayama in these modern times


In these times in which we are living, which are often highly stressful and triggering, we want to and often need to change the way we feel in order to reduce feelings of stress, overwhelm and anxiety. The breath and the use of pranayama is the fastest and most effective way to do this, and we can use them to essentially hack the stress system.

Why is it so important in current times?

  • In the most simplest terms if we learn to calm, manage and master the breath, we can calm, manage and master our mind, transforming anxiety and angst to peace and tranquillity.  It also opens up the door to feeling the most incredible sensations in the body and access a deeper state of meditation and concentration.   Pranayama can also help us to get comfortable with sitting with our ‘self’ and on our own – something which many again really struggle with in these times as most are so focused on doing and achieving.
  • This is not just through the use of certain techniques and breath ‘tricks’ but also – just as importantly – by the time the conscious breathing gives us just ‘be’ with our self away from outside influences. It helps to teach us that we are ‘safe enough’ to be by ourselves without the need for external stimuluses, and strong enough to change the way we feel inside without external factors such as drugs. There are even specific pranayama for helping with addiction and other specific ‘issues’ such as childhood anger.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by information and (more so when out of lock-down) choices is another issue of the times in which we are living, and even more so as technology and social media continues to grow in dominance and to fuel information overload. Practicing pranayama and conscious breathing not only gives us time out from this information overload and time to just ‘be’ with our ‘self’, it also give us the tools to help develop a neutral mind, so we can better approach and deal with this myriad of choices.

What are the effects/benefits?

There are a large number of benefits to conscious breathing/pranayama.

  • The first is that a more regulated, slower breath is likely to result in a more regulated, calmer and more manageable mind. Therefore, it is one of the fastest and most effective routes to a tranquil state of mind. Pranayama is also a key part of the journey to kundalini awakening, particularly when using the breathing technique where the air and prana are inhaled into the abdomen rather than into the chest.
  • Another benefit of conscious breathing is to relax the body, and focus the mind, which in turn prepares the body for meditation.  The fact it can help to break down blockages in chakras and energy channels / (nadis also means conscious breathing) is very effective in helping to tackle diseases and ailments of both the mind and the body, and aid with detoxification as well as purification.
  • Similarly it can serve to strengthen our organs, our viscera, particularly the lungs and the heart.  If approached properly, it often involves stretching and further relaxation, which doubly serves up the above benefits.
  • As a practice it is one of the best ways to deal with stress and manage, and even potentially gain mastery, over the mind. For instance, it helps us to develop not only the pause to help with acting not reacting and aids us to essentially ‘hack’ the sympathetic nervous system, but also conversely to learn to eliminate the pause between breaths, which in turn helps us to develop concentration, and bring about a deep sense of calmness, the withdrawal of the senses, and helps us to prepare for deep meditation, 3 of the other 8 limbs of Patanjail – i.e. pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation).

All my classes feature breathwork. Come and join your first class for free – i teach a 30 minute calming Breathwork class most Tuesday evenings at 8.30 and a 1 hour kundalini yoga and breathwork class at 10am most Saturday mornings. Check the classes and events page for more details.  Look forward to seeing you there, and sharing the benefits first hand,

Katharine xx

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