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The Little Book of Yoga Breathing: Pranayama Made Easy. . .

Overview

Pranayama, the practice of breath control, is detailed here in an easy-to-understand and even easier-to-practise format. Professional yoga instructor Scott Shaw introduces 16 breathing exercises and shows you how to get the best benefit from each of the forms by training, refining and witnessing your breath. Try one of the calming breaths, Nadi Sudi or the Nerve Purifying Breath. Have a long day ahead with no breaks until after dinner? Allow Ujayi or the Hissing Breath to work its miracles. Here you will learn ...

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The Little Book of Yoga Breathing: Pranayama Made Easy. . .

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Overview

Pranayama, the practice of breath control, is detailed here in an easy-to-understand and even easier-to-practise format. Professional yoga instructor Scott Shaw introduces 16 breathing exercises and shows you how to get the best benefit from each of the forms by training, refining and witnessing your breath. Try one of the calming breaths, Nadi Sudi or the Nerve Purifying Breath. Have a long day ahead with no breaks until after dinner? Allow Ujayi or the Hissing Breath to work its miracles. Here you will learn how to breathe while moving, standing and leaning and how these variations can affect your breathing practice. Use the instruction offered in "The Little Book of Yoga Breathing" to feel more focused and energized.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578633012
  • Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
  • Publication date: 1/1/2004
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 995,223
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.28 (d)

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The Little Book of Yoga Breathing

Pranayama made easy ...
By Scott Shaw

Weiser Books

Copyright © 2004 Scott Shaw
All right reserved.


Chapter One

Pranayama 101

The Sanskrit term pranayama comprises two components: prana (life force) and ayama (extension). Therefore, the word pranayama literally translates as "the extension of life force."

From ancient times forward, we've understood that breathing does even more than supply the body with necessary oxygen for life. When controlled, the inhalation and exhalation of breath purifies and cleanses an individual-and it can calm the agitated mind or energize the overexerted body.

Your First Conscious Breath

The most basic level of pranayama teaches you to simply guide a few breaths deep into your abdomen. This technique is known in Sanskrit as deergha swasam (deer-ga'-ha swa'-sa'm)-deep breathing.

There is no time like the present. Right now, wherever you are, breathe deeply. Breathe in through your nose slowly and evenly and guide the air into your abdomen. As you do so, experience your stomach region expanding with the new life force that is inflating your body. After holding this breath for a second or two, release it through your nose at the same pace at which you drew it.

This simple pranayamic exercise will greatly revitalize you when you feel tired, lackadaisical, or stressed-as well as provide an immediate dose of prana (pra'-na). Practice this exercise several times every day simply to cleanse your lungs of impurities and realign your inner being with the cosmic energy of prana. Then you can move forward with your life in a much more focused and invigorated manner.

* * *

Breathing Essentials

Breathing consciously is your first step to a more refined and energy-filled life. It is essential that you become very aware of your breathing habits to ensure that you are breathing correctly.

Witnessing Your Natural Breath

Begin a conscious analysis of your breathing right now. Close your eyes and take a moment or two to observe your breath as you mentally answer questions on the following page:

1. Are you inhaling through your nose or your mouth?

2. Do your chest and stomach expand or contract when you breathe in?

3. Does your in-breath travel deeply into your abdomen or does it finalize in your chest?

4. What do you feel as life-giving oxygen enters and exits your body?

Now that you have observed your natural breathing patterns, determine if any element needs to be altered and redefined. If you find you are breathing unnaturally, do not become upset with yourself. In each of these cases, unnatural breathing patterns are something that you have simply developed through habit. As such, you can take control and consciously breathe in a manner providing you with enhanced physical and mental energy.

1. Are you inhaling through your nose or your mouth?

If you breathe in through your mouth, you are not allowing your body to naturally filter and purify your intake of air. Airborne pollutants that are not filtered through your nose ultimately end up in your lungs. This is unhealthy.

If you find yourself inhaling through your mouth, correct it by consciously guiding your breath into your body through your nose. With this gentle guidance, your body will eventually adjust to the healthier way of breathing.

2. Do your chest and stomach expand or contract when you breathe in?

If your stomach and chest contract (as opposed to expand) when you inhale, you are breathing unnaturally, hindering the flow of prana into your body. If this is the case, you must take control of your breathing to correct it. Several times a day, take note of your breathing pattern. If you find your chest and stomach are contracting as you inhale, guide your chest and stomach to naturally expand as you breathe in and contract as you exhale.

3. Does your in-breath travel deeply into your abdomen or does it finalize in your chest?

If your in-breaths only travel to your chest, you are not allowing prana to invigorate your body and mind with energy, and you will remain listless and lack energy. Thus, this should be corrected by deliberately reviewing your breathing several times throughout the day-if you invite your breath deep into your abdomen enough times, your body will develop this new, healthier habit.

4. What do you feel as life-giving oxygen enters and exits your body?

By observing what sensations and emotions you experience while life-giving breath is traveling in and out of your body, you raise your consciousness to a new level of understanding. From this position, you interact with the essence of life and how it affects you in all situations. You will become consciously aware of how the quality of the air you breathe affects your body and your overall energy level and recognize when your body is not receiving enough life-giving prana due to polluted or poorly filtered air. You will also realize the point at which your body is not working in natural accord with your respiratory and circulatory systems and either increase your pranayamic or physical exercise to enhance your overall health or break from exercise for a period of time to allow your body to rest.

If you purposely utilize breath awareness throughout the day, not only will you correct any unnatural breathing patterns you've developed, but you will also embrace a more purified state of physical and mental understanding which is essential to a more refined and fulfilled life.

Taking Control of Your Breath

Now that you know how to breathe in the most beneficial and natural way, you can advance to the formalized techniques of pranayama. These practices differ vastly from the natural method of breathing described above. In each of the pranayamic breath control techniques that follow, you will be taught to breathe in a highly specific and refined pattern. With each of these techniques you will learn how to consciously take breath into your body while energizing very specific elements of your physical and mental being.

* * *

The Energy-Enhancing Breaths

Bringing large amounts of oxygen into your body in a rapid and controlled fashion is not only the most efficient way to instantly increase your energy level, but it is also the healthiest. Whereas all forms of artificial energy stimulation have their side effects, breathing is one hundred percent natural. It is nature's way of giving you the energy boost you need, with no artificial stimuli. All that is required is a few conscious breaths.

Basic Energy-Enhancing Breath

Benefits: This breath control exercise will provide you with instant energy revitalization and enhanced mental focus.

Technique: Begin right where you are. Sit up. Straighten your spine. Move your neck around a little bit to relieve any initial tension. Close your eyes. Observe your natural breathing pattern for a few moments. Witness each life-giving breath enter your body though your nose. Mentally watch it travel deep into your lungs as your stomach expands. Consciously recognize that breath is your key to life-it is the universal gift that allows you to function. Observe this breath permeating your being with the essence of life.

After you have observed a few natural breath cycles, deliberately take in a very deep breath through your mouth. The moment your lungs are full, immediately release it through your mouth. As soon as the breath has been exhaled, take another deep breath through your mouth. Again, once your lungs become full, release it through your mouth.

Practice this for three or four breath cycles and then allow yourself to breathe naturally through your nose for a few moments. As you do, experience how your body instantly became revitalized through the rapid intake of air.

After a few moments of contemplation, take this breath control technique to the next level. Take in a powerful, deep breath through your mouth.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Little Book of Yoga Breathing by Scott Shaw Copyright © 2004 by Scott Shaw. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction..............................................1Pranayama 101.............................................7 Your First Conscious Breath...............................9 Breathing Essentials......................................11 The Energy-Enhancing Breaths..............................19 Basic Energy-Enhancing Breath.............................21 Kapalabhati: Skull Shining................................25 Bastrika: Bellows Breathing...............................29 Murcha: The Retaining Breath..............................33 Kumbhaka: The Pure Breath.................................37 Ujjayi: The Hissing Breath................................41 The Calming Breaths.......................................45 Sukha Purvaka: The Easy Breath............................47 Sithali: The Cooling Breath...............................49 Sitkari: The Sipping Breath...............................53 Brahmari: The Humming Breath..............................57 Nadi Sudi: The Nerve-Purifying Breath.....................61 Pranayama in Motion.......................................65 Pranayama While Standing..................................69 Leaning Pranayama.........................................73 Dynamic Tension I: Push the Mountain......................75 Dynamic Tension II: Lift the Sky..........................79 Pranayamic Walking........................................83 Afterword.................................................89 About the Author..........................................90
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  • Posted October 27, 2009

    Good for beginners looking for a peak into yogic breathing

    This is a short book with a list of different breathing techniques and discriptions on how to use them. It is very discriptive, anyone would be able to pick up this book and begin these practices right away with little background knowledge. Only thing is that there are some variations on some breathwork that I have never seen or heard anywhere else before, I am not sure if they are traditional or thw writer twisted the traditional pranayama. Either way, its easy to follow and will show you a few ways to slow down and breath mindfully.

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