Pracchardanvidharanabhyam Va Pranasya
Pracchardana: exhale, expulsion | Vidharana: retention (abhyam: by these two) | Va: or | Pranasya: of the breath
Your breath has a direct connection to your nervous system. This is not a speculative or an anecdotal claim; it is a proven, scientific fact.
Aside from thought regulation itself, gaining control of your breath through regular Pranayama practice is one of the most effective ways to gain mastery of the mind and to learn the important skill of self-regulation for a peaceful mind and body. To control your breath/prana is to have direct control of your life-force energy, which encompasses everything from your physiological state to the emotional and psychological aspects of your being.
Stated simply, your breathing helps to regulate numerous bodily functions from your hormone distribution to your mental well-being and muscle relaxation response, so having a strong foundation in useful breathing techniques is essential for success in life and is particularly important for success on your Eightfold Path in Yoga.
Fortunately for everyone, the good news is that there are countless breathing techniques and exercises available for accomplishing everything from energizing you for action to deepening your concentration, calming your anger, and even helping you to become more self-aware. We will discuss a number of these techniques/exercises in our upcoming check-in, but today, let us start with some key and foundational breathing basics.