Pranayama are breathing techniques with which we control the breath in our bodies. Of all the automatic functions of the body it is easiest for a person to gain awareness of the breath, because it is found in the separate area which exists between the conscious and the subconscious mind. The breath is a mirror of each individual’s physical and mental activity. When we are happy it is rhythmic, deep and slow and when we are unhappy or stressed it is laboured, punctuated with sighs, shallow, fast and irregular.
Normal, calm breathing induces relaxation, regularity and integration of the rhythms of the body and its functions so that they work together in harmony. Irregular breathing which is full of stress can cause or lead to impaired mental activity and a chaotic way of thinking as well as to physical, mental and emotional illnesses. When a person learns to control and be aware of his breathing, the body’s cycles begin to function perfectly, unimpeded by stress. At the same time, if we want, it is possible to gain control over them.
In each yoga class students practise some pranayama which can be calming, energizing, balancing or can increase sensitivity so that they can gradually use their breath to control their energy.