Fourth Limb of 8-fold Path – Pranayama by Lena Schmidt

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The fourth limb of the eight-fold path is the Pranayama. Pranayama means breath practice or control of the life force.

We can practice Pranayama in yoga by:

* Paying attention to your inhales and exhales throughout the class
* Notice if/when you tend to hold your breath (a challenging asana is usually made easier by deepening the breath, not holding, as may be the instinct—asanas are simulated stressful situations, which is why they are such good practice for everyday life)
* Trying out the pranayama offered by the instructor (some common ones you may hear are: Ujjayi, Nadi Shodhana, and Kapalbhati)
* Attend a pranayama class (did you know Pilgrimage offers breathing classes at both locations with Lauren McLaren? Check it out!)

We can practice Pranayama in life by:
* Pay attention to your breath rhythm throughout the day
* Notice if/when you tend to hold your breath (a stressful situation is usually made deal-with-able by deepening the breath, not holding, as may be the instinct—this is why asanas are such good practice for every day life)
* Practice pranayama while you’re driving to work, on the train, as you get dressed, while you work on a household chore (probably no one but you will even be able to tell you’re doing it!)
* Oh, and keep breathing. Without breath, we are dead ☺

Practice tips: Breathing is something we all do all day long. We don’t even have to think about it! But when we do think about it, we have to opportunity to slow down, breath deeper, and stimulate the natural relaxation responses in the body and mind. Next time you’re feeling worried, stressed, or angry, try taking 5-10 slow, conscious breaths. If emotion takes over and you lose count, begin again.


 
 

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