Pranayama Explained: The Ancient Breathing Practice For Glowing Skin From Within

These yoga poses could help heal your acne (yes, really)

Pranayama Explained: The Ancient Breathing Practice For Glowing Skin From Within

When a yoga instructor asks you to set an intention for your practice, do you ever think: “To get rid of this huge pimple on my face”?

I’m not going to lie—I’ve jokingly wished for that (along with more serious things, of course). But little did I realize that it’s not such a crazy idea. According to the ancient Indian healing tradition of Ayurveda, certain yoga poses actually are believed to fight acne.

There are several reasons why yoga is so closely linked with the skin in Ayurvedic custom, says Shrankhla Holecek, founder of Ayurvedic beauty brand Uma. For one thing, breathing techniques, the ones you do in yoga class, are major stress busters—and we all know how stress impacts the complexion.

“Pranayama—a breathing meditation within yoga—can be deeply balancing to the mind and body, alleviating the stressors that cause acne,” says Holecek. (In fact, she adds, breath work is often the first thing an Ayurvedic doctor will recommend if you’re struggling with acne.)

The movement side of yoga also affects skin. Take sun salutations, for example: Though we often think of them as energy-boosters, in Ayurveda they’re so much more than that. “Sun and moon salutations can expedite the body’s detox processes, helping rid you of acne-causing toxins,” says Holecek.

It stands to reason, then, that other poses could also play a role in fighting pimples. After all, Holecek says, “Acne is considered to be an imbalance, and generally, yoga practices are all about bringing you back to balance.”

As is always the case within Ayurveda, the right yoga prescription for you varies depending on your predominant dosha, or mind-body constitution. (If you don’t already know yours, take this quiz.) I know it sounds a little out-there, but even if you’re skeptical, know this: Getting more yoga in your life is never a bad thing.

1. Pitta: Red, angry pimples

“Pitta-type acne is often triggered by emotional imbalances such as stress or anger,” says Holecek. This dosha is especially prone to “fiery” emotions, which lead to imbalance overall.

To soothe your emotions: “Poses hidden lotus (above) and fish (top) have a deeply calming effect on [emotions], alleviating acne triggers,” says Holecek.

To relax the mind and body: There’s a reason why your yoga instructor saves shoulder stand (above) and half-wheel (also known as bridge pose) for the end of class—they put you in a totally Zen state. “These are excellent circulation boosting poses, but double in their efficacy for pitta types because of their deeply relaxing nature on the mind and body,” explains Holecek.

2. Vata: Whiteheads, blackheads, and milia

When airy vata types experience an imbalance, it can often result in digestive issues—and, according to Holecek, this can lead to fermentation in the gut and toxin buildup.

To amp up your digestion: “Poses lotus (above) are excellent in aiding digestion,” says Holecek, who claims that this will lead to better toxin elimination and nutrient absorption.

To reduce constipation: “Headstand, backward bends (above), and plough (top) further alleviate constipation—a common problem with vata types—and boost circulation to the face, delivering vital nutrients for resolving acne,” Holecek says.

To bring circulation to your face: “Cobra (above) and locust poses deliver the unexpected benefit of stimulating facial and neck muscle, which aids in detox and cellular turnover,” explains Holecek. (A welcome bonus, if your gut issues are showing up on your skin.)

3. Kapha: Deep-rooted acne

Many skin-care experts will tell you that cystic acne is related to off-kilter hormones, and Holecek is one of them. She adds that this kind of imbalance is connected to the kapha dosha, which tends towards stagnation.

To help regulate hormones: “Poses lion (above) and boat (top) can have a stimulating effect on glands, which is especially beneficial for kapha acne,” says Holecek.

To detox: “Kapha-type acne finds great relief with a good detox, and spinal twists (above) are excellent for that,” Holecek notes.

To improve circulation: “Half wheel [or bridge pose] (above) helps boost circulation and furthers detox, which is good for healing acne,” says Holecek.

If you want to keep fighting breakouts after your yoga for acne savasana session, check out our guide to facial oils that target acne. Then figure out how to use stress to your advantage (rather than as a pimple stimulator) with these six mindset resets.


Exploring Kundalini Yoga: Chanting and Pranayama Techniques

Pranayama Explained: The Ancient Breathing Practice For Glowing Skin From Within

With all the different forms of yoga available to us, it can be a daunting task to find the yoga practice that speaks to you – to find YOUR yoga. During a transitional period of my life 9 years ago, I stumbled across a Kundalini Yoga class on TV . . .

and I was hooked. Kundalini Yoga incorporates postures, repetitive movements, chanting, drishti (eye gaze), mudra (hand positions) and breath work (otherwise known as Pranayama) to raise the consciousness of the mind and alter the energies of the body.

I realize that higher consciousness, peace, tranquility and a strong healthy body are the goals of all Yoga disciplines, but Kundalini simply gets you there faster! It is the more direct route.


Here are two Kundalini methods to help you establish more peace, health, and balance in your life:


1. Chanting

Sound and chanting (also known as mantra) are used regularly in Kundalini because sound stimulates the nerve endings in and around our mouth. This in turn stimulates the hypothalamus in the brain, which releases positive hormones. Mantra also quiets the mind as we focus on the new sounds and letting them sing out into the universe.

So let go of your inhibitions and give chanting a try! 

A really lovely, easy mantra to try is Sa Ta Na Ma. The meaning translated is “Birth, Life, Death, Rebirth.” Yet I encourage you to not get bogged down with the meaning.

It is the repetition of this mantra, along with the hand movements, that make you feel the meaning and importance of this mantra.


Try it for yourself:

On chanting Sa, touch the index finger to the thumb.
On Ta, touch the middle finger to your thumb.
On Na, touch the ring finger to your thumb.

On Ma, touch the little finger to your thumb. Practice chanting for 3 minutes to begin with, and then stop to notice how you feel. Mantra is highly powerful for our bodies and our immune system due to the reflex points in and around the mouth.

This is why singing makes us feel so good, inside and out.

Now I am experiencing a greater sense of self and higher awareness of my emotional body than ever before.

2. Pranayama

Conscious breathing patterns (or Pranayama) are common in Kundalini Yoga, and a fave is the Breath of Fire – a rapid inhale/exhale breath through the nose. The navel pumps inwards and upwards towards the spine to force the exhale out, which then allows for the inhale to happen naturally.

To give you an idea of pace, aim for two breaths a second. 

Breath of Fire makes you feel amazing.

It detoxifies the body, stimulates the navel chakra (the point at which our ambition, determination, willpower and confidence are manifested), increases oxygen to the brain, and changes the chemical structure of the blood.

 At the end of a round of Breath of Fire, inhale deeply and hold your breath for as long as possible. Then, as the breath returns to normal and the blood receives all that fresh new oxygen, you feel incredibly revitalized and centered. 

Incorporating the breath with a yoga pose produces fab results. This practice is called the “Ego Eradicator” because it helps quiet the negative voice in our mind and opens our hearts to light.

Glowing Skin: Breathing Exercises To Improve Gut and Skin Health

Pranayama Explained: The Ancient Breathing Practice For Glowing Skin From Within


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On a daily basis, we see all those beauty commercials with women flaunting their clear skin.

It has been brainwashed into our minds by these commercials that a healthy and glowing skin can only be achieved if you are a celebrity with dozens of beauty products, or if you're willing to undergo the knife. Though a daily skincare regimen is important, it is not the only answer to permanent glowing skin.

Abhishek Maheshwari, a renowned yoga instructor holds the opinion that ‘Pranayama, breathing exercises, headstand and fish pose are primarily the best for glowing skin'. To explain this quote a little further, a daily regimen of breathing exercises working on the principle of Valsalva maneuver and some yoga postures can provide more efficient results than any other regimen.

Practicing Pranayama: Pranayama is the practice of controlling your breath which has been used by Yogis for centuries to train their mind and solve various problems. It is beneficial for the respiratory system and removes all energy blocks. It also purifies the blood and makes the circulation more efficient which benefits the skin. Some pranayama’s are discussed below:

  • KapalabhattiPranayam
  • The Kapal Bhatti breathing technique has become more popular due to the efforts of certified Yogis. This technique is relatively advanced and has a number of benefits.

    It is also known as skull shining technique because while practicing you must visualize a bright light filling your skull. This technique should be practiced with your legs crossed and hands placed on the lower belly.

    Then a deep breath should be taken through the nose and exhaled through the mouth. This cycle of 10 breaths should be repeated three or four times in each sitting.

  • AnulomVilom
  • Image source:

    AnulomVilom is also called nostril breathing, which looks simple but is extremely powerful. It settles the emotions, body, and mind. Each time fresh breath fills your lung and body, it helps clear toxins out.

    This is practiced by keeping your spine straight and bringing your right palm in front of your face and using your thumb and index finger to obstruct the nostril and breath from the left nostril.

    This technique should be practiced on alternating sides for 10 cycles.

  • BhastrikaPranayam
  • BhrastikaPranayam is known as bellows breath which is thought to increase the life force. This technique has the added benefit of improving digestion and increasing metabolism rate. This technique is executed by sitting upright and breathing from the belly. It should be ensured that the breath should arise from the efforts of the diaphragm.

  • BhramariPranayam
  • Image source:

    This technique is named after the Indian black bee and the exhalation process during this technique is similar to the humming of the black bee. This technique can be practiced by sitting straight and placing your index fingers on the cartilage between your cheeks and ears. Take a deep inhalation and then exhale while pressing down on your cartilage until a humming sound is produced.

  • Bhaya Pranayama
  • Bahya Pranayama, also known as external breathing. It is named so because it involves retaining the breath after exhalation. It is a vital breathing technique a three-step process of inhaling, exhaling and then retaining the breath for a couple of minutes.

    This process needs training on a daily basis to increase the amount of time one can hold their breath. It is practiced by sitting up with your spine erect, inhale deeply and then exhale out completely. Next, the breath should be held while you pull your stomach up and bend your neck and touch your chest with your chin.

    This position should be held for 5 to 10 minutes then released. Repeat this process for 5 minutes daily.

    These breathing techniques are guaranteed to help you achieve a glowing complexion if practiced daily and correctly. To make the most these exercises, it is recommended that they are paired with Yoga postures which can be practiced after obtaining mastery over breathing and meditation. Apart from a number of health benefits, these practices are also the key to everlasting youth and beauty.

    Author Bio:

    This guest post was written by Hassan Khan Yousafzai, he is passionate about Digital marketing. Along with educational background in Software Engineering he is bridging gap between marketing and development department. At Techvando, he has been consulting brands all over Pakistan to gain online traffic and profitable leads.

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    Pranayama – why it actually works!

    Pranayama Explained: The Ancient Breathing Practice For Glowing Skin From Within

    Ever felt the weight of the whole world rests on your shoulders? Well, there is a method to quieten your mind and get rid of that stress – just breathe. According to ancient Indian scriptures, breathing is one of the best things you can do to help your body recover, repair and function better. Also known as Pranayama, it not only good in theory it actually works. Here is why.

    Prana: The breath of life

    The ancient Indian system of yoga identified the power of breath and strove to maximize its efficiency by developing special breathing techniques.

     The ancient yogis discovered prana as the universal life force or energy which distinguishes the living from the dead. We get prana from food, rest, breath and by being in a calm, happy frame of mind.

    However, the most important source of prana is breath – when our breath stops, we die.

    It was discovered that the quantity and quality of prana and the way it flows through the nadis (subtle energy channels) determines one’s state of mind.

    Due to lack of attention, the energy channels in the average person may be partially blocked, making the flow of prana, broken and jerky. This results in increased worry, fear, uncertainty, conflict, tension and other negative qualities. When the prana level is high and its flow is continuous, smooth and steady, then the mind is calm, positive and enthusiastic.

    As Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says ‘Breath is the link between the body and mind. If the mind is a kite the breath is the thread. The longer the thread, the higher the kite can go.’ (Read: Beat insomnia with yoga)

    Breathe out stress, breathe in joy

    Did you know that we can throw out 90 percent of the toxins from our body by breathing correctly? We can learn the art of breathing right by observing new born babies.

    Have you seen their stomach gently rising and falling as they breathe in and breathe out?  Breath is our vital source of energy. The key to healthy and happy living lies in right breathing.

    When we attend to our breath, it can heal us from all worries and anxieties.

    At a conference in Germany, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explained the connect between breath and emotions, ‘Our breath is linked to our emotions. For every emotion, there is a particular rhythm in the breath. So, when you cannot directly harness your emotions, with the help of breath you can do that.

    If you are in theater, you would know that a director asks you to breathe faster when you have to show anger. If you have to show a serene scene, director would tell you to breathe softer and slower.

    If we understand the rhythm of our breath, we are able to have a say over our mind, we can win over any negative emotions anger, jealousy, greed, and we are able to smile more from our heart.’

    Breath right:

    Most of us breathe from the chest – such shallow breathing sends a signal to the brain that all is not well – we are stressed. Alternatively, breathing from the abdomen boosts respiration, ensures a rich supply of oxygen to the brain and signals that all is well.

    Observe your breath and note if it is deep or shallow. (Read: Try these yoga poses to improve digestion)

    Breathing techniques for various ailments

    You can practice these breathing techniques at any time of the day whenever your stomach is empty.

    • Is your mind buzzing with activity? Can’t stop thinking about what someone said about you? Find a quiet corner and try the Bee breath (Bhramari pranayama) to apply brakes in the buzzing mind. This breathing technique is a boon for those with hypertension.
    • Among the breathing techniques, Kapal Bhati (Skull Shining breath) is considered the most important and effective for detoxifying the body and clearing the energy channels.
    • Low energy levels? Three rounds of Bhastrika pranayama (Bellow breath) will get your energy levels soaring!
    • Can’t concentrate on the task at hand? Try nine rounds of Nadi Shodhan pranayama followed by a short 10-minute meditation. Nadi Shodhan pranayama calms and centres the mind by bringing into harmony the left and right hemispheres of the brain which correlate to the logical and emotional sides of our personality.

    Benefits of pranayamas

    • Enhances the quantity and quality of life force
    • Clears blocked energy channels
    • Harmonizes the body, mind and spirit
    • Boosts the immune system
    • Rejuvenates the body and mind
    • Slows down the ageing process

    Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of hypertension.

    Content courtesy: artofliving/yoga 

    You may also to read:

    Know your yoga asana

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    Published : October 28, 2013 10:38 am | Updated:March 10, 2015 5:28 pm


    International Yoga Day: How to enhance your beauty with the power of Yoga

    Pranayama Explained: The Ancient Breathing Practice For Glowing Skin From Within

    International Yoga Day: Enhance your beauty with the power of Yoga

    The ancient practice of Yoga has not only been used for good health and long life, but you can get problem-free glowing skin with the help of it, as well.

    Who doesn’t want a glowing skin? People often rely on their expensive range of cosmetics and makeup products for their aesthetics. But the most simple way to look good is to treat yourself from inside.

    You must have noticed people who practice Yoga daily have a permanent glow on their faces. That glow comes from within and is permanent. 

    Yoga also  helps people achieve their ideal weight and gives a proportionate body by removing excess fat from the body. It improves blood circulation and helps to remove toxins from the body which helps to look more youthful, radiant and beautiful naturally, says beauty expert Shahnaz Husain.

    “You do not have to be born beautiful. You can acquire it. Good health and beauty are two sides of the same coin. Unless you are healthy from the inside, you cannot reflect true beauty. Yoga is very relevant to our modern lifestyle, in terms of both health and beauty,” she adds.

    Pranayam: One of the asanas that is necessary for beautiful skin and hair is Pranayam, as it helps to reduce stress, increase oxygenation and improve blood circulation. Pranayama is one of the best exercises of correct breathing. Devoting a few minutes every day allows us the means of natural cleansing of the system.


    These exercises are now being followed worldwide. Close one nostril with the fingers. Then breathe in through the other nostril. The air should be inhaled in short sniffs.

    Then close the second nostril and breathe out. Breathe in again through the other nostril and breathe out the same way. Alternate it up to ten times.

    This not only purifies the blood stream, but cleansers the entire filtering system.

    Yoga improves blood circulation, including the circulation of blood to the skin surface. This is so important for the good health of the skin as it helps to supply essential nutrients to the skin. It also promotes the removal of toxins.

    Here are some awesome tips to keep your hair and skin monsoon-ready. 

    The same goes for the hair. Yoga helps to promote blood circulation and oxygenation to the scalp and hair follicles. This helps to supply nutrients in the blood stream to the hair follicles. It promotes hair growth and keeps the scalp healthy.When we talk of beauty, we do not talk only about the beauty of the face. It also includes the figure – with suppleness, good posture and grace.

    A slim figure can take years off and make you look well groomed. Many beauty problems are triggered off by stress. Since yoga helps to induce relaxation and reduce stress, it aids in dealing with stress-related conditions acne, hair loss, dandruff, etc.

    Studies conducted on those who practice yoga have shown that positive changes also occur in the personality, in attitudes, emotional stability and self-confidence.It has a direct effect on the mind, emotions and mood.

    In fact, yoga is a regular stress-buster and puts the glow back on your skin.

    “Feeling good will make you look good too!” stresses Shahnaz Husain.

    As we all know, yoga deals with physical exercises, called 'Asanas,' which entails the assuming of well defined poses, with precise results. Yoga helps in dealing with beauty problems that are triggered by stress, acne.

    Asanas for acne help to reduce stress and also keep the system flushed, getting rid of toxins and wastes.

    The asanas that help acne are Uttanasana – This is a standing and forward bending pose, in which the body is fully bent, with hands holding the ankles.

    Kapalbhati – a breathing exercise, is also said to help an acne condition. In this, the exhaling of breath is done with a little force. It is said to help remove carbon dioxide and thus purify the blood. This also helps to decongest the system.


    Dhanurasana- This posture resembles a bow. It is excellent for removing toxins and flushing the system. It also promotes blood circulation and reduces stress. It benefits the skin, making it clear and adding a glow. Therefore, it can help to control an acne condition.

    Protecting youthful properties

    The regular practice of yoga helps to preserve the youthful properties of the skin and body. It keeps the spine and joints flexible and this goes a long way in keeping the body supple and youthful. There are numerous other benefits.

    The posture improves and so does grace of movement. It also helps to reduce weight. Muscles are toned and blood circulation improves. Yoga also helps to relieve fatigue and allow recuperation of energy.

    It has powerful rejuvenating and revitalizing benefits.

    Surya Namaskar is ideal, as it exercises the entire body and has a rejuvenating effect on both body and mind. It is a set of 12 poses or “asanas,” in a particular sequence, accompanied by controlled breathing. For wrinkle-free skin, try this yoga “asana” along with Pranayama.

    Stand straight and place feet and legs wide apart. Cover face with palms and breathe deeply and quickly for 10 counts. Then while continuing breathing, rub the face with the fingers, starting from chin and going to the forehead. Include the area around eyes.

    This helps to make the skin smooth, firm and radiant.

    surya namaskar

    The 12 poses of Surya Namaskar also help to control excessive sweating. Surya Namaskar induces relaxation and reduces anxiety, which is sometimes associated with excessive sweating


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    Pranayama Explained: The Ancient Breathing Practice For Glowing Skin From Within

    Beyond the practice of sipping water throughout the day lies a realm of hydration that encompasses the entire body. Soak in water, nix the plastic single use bottles, and practice ancient yogic pranayama techniques that will leave you in tip top shape.

    1. RIGHT NUTRITION: Sip Room Temperature Water And Warm Herbal Tea Throughout The Day

    To stay hydrated, focus on assimilation rather than quantity. Drink water when you are thirsty and sip instead of chug.

     If you are drinking too much water at one time, you may find yourself dehydrated despite your efforts. Several trips to the restroom per hour suggest that you need to slow down.

    After all, our bodies can only assimilate about 2-3 cups of water per hour, or 200 ml (a little less than 1 cup) every 15 minutes.

    Consuming too much water at one time causes the kidneys to overwork, placing unwanted stress on the body.

    Help your body absorb water by adding chia seeds, fresh ginger, and/or a small pinch of sea salt to your water. Although too much salt in the diet is dehydrating, salt is actually essential to your body’s water absorption process. Learn more here: The Skinny on Salt

    Once you are sipping instead of chugging, you can go deeper by considering our top Ayurvedic recommendations. Ayurvedic science recommends consuming only room temperature or warm beverages, which means that ice water can become an occasional indulgence rather than a regular practice. Ayurvedic practitioners also suggest consuming little or no water at mealtime.

    Drinking ice water and taking in too much liquid during mealtimes cools or dilutes our digestive fire (or Agni). Since so much of our health depends on healthy digestion, this is sage advice. That said, we know that leaving ice your beverage is not always possible… or desirable. To begin, consider applying the 70-30 rule.

    If 70% of the time, you are drinking room temperature water or warm tea, you are doing superb!

    Last but not least, watch out for sugar and caffeine in your bevies!

    If you are drinking coffee regularly, you may need to sip even more water throughout the day to make up for the dehydrating effects of caffeine. Sugar is another beast to contend with. The body converts sugar to stored fat and wreaks havoc on your insulin levels. If you find water difficult to drink, consider adding some fruit or sprigs of mint to your water to add flavor.

    Here’s the summary: Drink room temperature water or tea throughout the day when you are thirsty. Pay attention to your current habits, especially around caffeine and sugar, and begin to replace old habits that no longer serve you in your life with new, healthier habits.

    2. Right Movement: Flush Out The Toxins

    Hydration is about balance in the body. If you are practicing yoga asanas and exercising regularly, you will help your body flush out toxins and prevent water retention.

    Hydrating after yoga practice and exercise will help you to receive the full benefits of the practice. Yoga asana and exercise require adequate nutrition, including additional water post workout. Replenish your body with healthy foods and water post-movement and your body will thank you.

    3. Right Relaxation: Sip and Soak Away Your Stress

    As the days get longer and the weather warms up, we tend to spring into action, sometimes overextending ourselves. Taking time away from chaos and turning inwards to meditate and relax can help our bodies to absorb and assimilate the water and food we consume. Pay particular attention to relaxation during hot days and plan for sipping water or herbal tea all day long.

    Consider booking some bodywork, soak in water, get some gentle exercise by taking a swim in cooling water, and head to bed early. The result? Increased energy and ojas, the Ayurvedic term for the vital essence that supports our immune systems, vitality, libido, and strength.

    4. Right Breathing: Practice Sitali

    Deep in the Himalayas, ancient sages observed and imitated the world around them in the noble attempt to master body, breath, and mind.

    They noticed the curve of a bird’s lower beak, a new green leaf uncurling, and the hiss of a cobra—and emulated those shapes and sounds in a practice called sitali (the cooling breath).

    In this pranayama, the inhalation is moistened as it passes through the curl of the tongue (alternately described as a bird’s beak and an uncurling leaf), so that you are “drinking” water-saturated air.

    Sitali cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and soothes a pitta imbalance.

    Besides building breath awareness, this practice is said to calm hunger and thirst and cultivate a love for solitude.

    Sitali also cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and, in the parlance of ayurveda, soothes a pitta imbalance, which is common in the summer months.

    In addition, this practice reduces fatigue, bad breath, fevers, and high blood pressure. Learn how to practice Sitali: Click Here

    *Content taken from

    5. Right Intention: Drink Filtered Tap Water

    Did you know that the Pacific Garbage Patch and the Eastern Garbage Patch have doubled in size in the past decade? We have plastic islands out in the ocean twice the size of Texas that are made up of tiny pieces of plastic that look just fish food (opposed to a solid mass of plastic).

    Animals mistake the plastic for food. Plus this toxic soup disturbs marine food webs and ecosystems. Here’s one simple thing you can do to make a difference: Nix the single-use plastic water bottles and replace these with an eco-friendly reusable water bottle.

    Fill the bottle with tap water and sip throughout the day to stay hydrated.

    Our Fav Water Bottles:

    SWELL Stainless Steel

    CONTIGO Stainless Steel


    Pranayama: The Power of Breath

    Pranayama Explained: The Ancient Breathing Practice For Glowing Skin From Within

    Pranayama is a Sankrit word meaning “control of life-force energy” with prana meaning “life-force energy” and yama meaning “control.” Breathing is an automatic process for all living beings. If we tried to stop ourselves from breathing, our body would desperately on its own try to inhale and exhale with all its might.

    However, humans are the only creatures that can control their breathing by simply bringing their attention or awareness to their breath. We take in our first breath the moment we are born and do not stop breathing until our last exhale when we die.

    Our first breath when we are born is always an inhalation and the last breath before we die is always an exhalation because breathing is the vehicle through which life-force energy from Spirit flows through our mind and body.

    This life-force is called Prana by the Hindus, Chi by the Chinese, Breath of Life by the Hebrews, Holy Spirit by the Christians, Pneuma by the ancient Greeks, Spiritus by the Romans, Num by the Kung San indigenous people of the African Kalahari desert, and Mana by the Kahuna people of Hawaii.

    There is a direct link between our physical  breath and our connection with the Divine. The English word respiration came from the Latin word respire.

    The prefix re– means “return” and spire is the root of spiritus which means “spirit” and literally describes how the spirit of life leaves our body and then returns with every cycle of breathing. The Latin verb expire is composed of the prefix ex– which means “” and pire is the root of spiritus which means “spirit.” The word expire means not only “to breathe out,” but also “to die.” Translated literally, expire means “the exiting of the spirit.”

    How We Got Disconnected From Our Source

    Thousands of years ago, it was discovered that our breathing pattern and depth of breath changes when we experience different kinds of emotions, different states of health and illness, and different states of consciousness. In fact, all forms of illness exhibited patterns of breathing that were shallow and irregular.

    Our breathing became irregular when we started experiencing pain or fear. All other negative emotions such as anger, hatred, depression, frustration, jealousy, doubt, guilt, disappointment, or despair, are just variations or different combinations of pain or fear.

    When we are in pain or fear, we hold or stop our breath as if the only way to stop the pain and fear was by attempting to kill ourselves by holding our breath.

    This is why when we hurt someone else, not only are they suffering, but we are also killing ourselves by stopping our breath because we can only hurt others when we are in a negative emotional state. The holding of the breath is temporary because the body struggles to fight for its survival.

    What results is a compromise as breathing continues but erratically by starting and stopping, and shallowly by breathing in only part of the way and then stopping to exhale before the breath is complete. Since the breath is Spirit or the Divine itself, our connection with our Divine Self becomes irregular or weak which explains our emotional highs and lows through life.

    The Power of Breath

    It was discovered that by manipulating our breath, we could transform fear into confidence, mental and physical illness into wellbeing and health, and elevate our consciousness to connect with the Divine.

    The famous Gautama Buddha was said to attain enlightenment by meditating on his breath and following its life-force energy back to its source.

    Eastern martial artists discovered that all pain and fear can be controlled by the breath which made them almost invincible during battle because it gave them extraordinary courage, strength, stamina, razor-sharp focus, awareness, reflexes, and extrasensory perception.

    The breath is the key to freeing up emotions, getting emotions to move, or raising the vibration of negative emotions. The best thing is that the breath is accessible to everybody, even those who are completely paralyzed can utilize the power of their breath. As on as you can breath, you can use this potent power.

    Oxygen for Bright Eyes & Glowing Skin: Pranayama works to increase your lung capacity, thereby maximizing the amount of oxygen you breathe in which makes your blood oxygen-rich producing the light or sparkle in your eyes and radiant, glowing skin.

    Slow Long Deep Belly Breathing: When you need to calm down, de-stress, release all negativity, and feel complete peace, do the slow, long, deep belly breathing technique. This is also great to do before going to sleep or to prepare yourself for meditation.

    Slow, long, deep belly breathing is the most effective organic form of psychotherapy because it draws the breath down to your navel chakra, which is the only chakra in your energy body that is connected to all 72,000 nadis or energy lines that go through your entire being out to the universe and beyond.

    Together with your intention or visualization this type of breathing can direct all unwanted energies your system. You start the slow, long, deep belly breathing first with an inhalation where you slowly inflate your belly as full as you can and then inflate your lungs.

    Then when you exhale, start by pushing the air your belly and then pushing the air up your lungs. Then repeat the inhale and exhale as long as needed. Try to make the inhalation equal in length and rhythm to the exhalation.

    Fast Long Deep Belly Breathing: When you need to speed up your metabolism, crank up your energy levels, heat up your body, improve your blood/energy circulation, focus, concentration, discipline and will power, do the fast, long, deep belly breathing, otherwise known as the Breath of Fire in yogic traditions. This is great to do in the morning when you need a good amount of energy and focus to take on the day, or when you do not have the energy to exercise due to illness or physical disability, but you need the energetic benefits of exercise. The Breath of Fire is the slow, long, deep belly breathing only it is speeded up or done fast. In order to do long, deep, belly breathing fast, you need to really use the muscles of your belly, chest and throat to push the air in deep and out fast. Make sure the breath is deep and goes all the way down to your belly, otherwise you will be only hyperventilating (fast, shallow breathing) which could weaken you instead of strengthen you. The Breath of Fire is also great for increasing your control of your breathing by strengthening and toning your breathing muscles. It also helps to expand your oxygen capacity since your muscles will be strong enough to expand and contract to their maximum with very little effort or automatically.

    How to Reconnect with the Divine

    To restore a healthy connection to our Divine Self, we need to change our breathing from an automated process that we have no conscious control over to a fully mastered or controlled process. In order to control anything, we need to be in control of ourselves.

    Though we may think we are in control of ourselves, most of us are not in control of our mind or our body.

    For example, how many times have we had negative thoughts enter our mind without our permission and tried desperately to get rid of them, avoid them, or let them take over us? How many times have we made an intention to do one thing but ended up doing the opposite or not do it at all? How many times have we reacted to something automatically to which we later regretted and wished we had better control over our self? Thoughts in our mind seem to have a mind of their own. Instead of us choosing what we want to think about, the mind is constantly distracting us with thoughts, visions, event replay, judgments, and internal dialog which leads to foggy thinking, procrastination, and lack of direction. As for control over our body, most of us can control how our arms, legs, and bodies move only up to a certain extent. For example, we may want to do a split but our body will only go down to a certain level before protesting with pain depending on how well we have conditioned, trained, or mastered our bodies.

    Mastering Body & Mind

    In order to be able to master our breath, we need to first master our body and then our mind.

    One of the best ways to master the body is through the practice of yoga (see Yoga article) and one of the best ways to master the mind is through the practice of meditation (see Meditation article).

    Most of us identify ourselves as our body and mind, not realizing that we are more than that. It is very difficult to control something that we are identified with, but it is much easier when we separate our self from it and can manipulate it an object outside of us.

    Since the body is more concrete than the mind, it is the easiest to start with. When the body is tight and tense, we have a hard time separating our identity from our body. It is almost as if we become trapped in our body when it is tight, tense, and inflexible. Once our body is flexible, we begin to feel free and can separate our self from our body and therefore can exert control over it.

    Mastering the mind means to remove our identity with it, make it quiet, and turn it into pure awareness, a witness or observer instead of its usual activity of producing one thought after another.

    It requires a separation of our self from our racing thoughts which is hard to do if our body is too wound up, tense, and inflexible. Once we realize that we are not our body, we can work on realizing that we are not our mind either.

    We actually recommend as a daily practice a yoga that incorporates pranayama and ends in meditation on the breath since yoga is a perfect preparation for meditation.

    Mastering the Breath/Spirit

    Once we have mastered our mind and made it into a quiet witness or observer, we can perceive blocks in our breathing more easily and direct the life-force energy in the breath to areas of our body and mind that need it the most as well as use it to unite with the Divine.

    There are advanced breath control techniques that are so powerful that they are only taught to those who have achieved a certain level of mastery over body and mind.

    Without the proper controls or stability in body and mind in place, there is a danger of extreme imbalance that can result in sudden physical illness or mental breakdown. For this reason, we will only teach it to those who have reached a certain level of mastery in yoga and meditation.

    Some may not need to learn these advanced breathing techniques at all since yoga and meditation are usually enough in themselves to achieve high states of spiritual consciousness, mental wellbeing, and physical health.

    Beyond the Breath

    Probably the most notable contribution to humanity from the Buddha was his discovery of meditation on the breath.

    He discovered that when the breath slows down, thoughts slow down and when the breath stops during deep meditation, we transition from the denser physical and semi-physical energy of breath to the non-physical manna of Heaven and the thoughts stop completely.

    When we stop talking to ourselves, we can hear more clearly the voice of God, or the intuitive voice of our Higher Self. Things become much clearer, answers come easily, problems resolve themselves, or solutions present themselves.

    Meditation on the breath does not attempt to control the breath, but it does attempt to bring consciousness to one’s breath by simply watching it or observing it without judgment, paying attention to where the breath is coming from and where it is going, tracing it back to its Source. During this state when our breathing stops, we realize that we can survive without the breath when we are fully connected to Spirit, that we are much more than the breath, and we transcend our fear of death.

    How to Learn

    Pranayama training is available through Ardent Light Life/Health/Spiritual Coaching sessions. Basic pranayama techniques are incorporated into all Ardent Light Healing Yoga classes.

    You can also teach yourself more advanced breath control or meditation techniques to heal specific types of physical, mental and spiritual ailments by reading Andy Caponigro’s book The Miracle of the Breath: Mastering Fear, Healing Illness, and Experiencing the Divine.