In a yoga teacher training students engaged in group pranayama
In a yoga teacher training students engaged in group pranayama


Pranayama is the yogic discipline of breath control for the extension of the prana. But let’s break it down further.

Prana is the sanskrit word for ‘life force’. You can think of it as the subtle force that animates you. Ayama is the sanskrit word meaning ‘to extend’ or ‘draw out’.  Despite where you love: Vancouver or Toronto.


Basically Pranayama is breath awareness through a variety of manipulation techniques. A bridge between a more physical practice and a more meditative yoga.

Physically these techniques can return you to a natural and easy breath by opening the diaphragm. Psychologically they are a tool for quieting the mind and a way of tapping into the subtle body and energetic forces.

Since we cannot measure Prana, observing breath as a meditation practice connects us to one of the most fundamental aspects of being alive. Breath brings oxygen to the cells and flows systematically throughout our body. Breath is life, Prana is life.

Therefore when Prana is beheld, fluctuations of the mind decrease and equanimity arises.


The space created by these practices help you discover blockages and work toward restoring a sense of freedom of being. Notice how your ego is dependant on holding onto your story of suffrage?

Pranayama and meditation are the acts of letting go of both physical tension and psychological impediment. If you are struggling to find stillness let go of trying and listen.

Let’s look into a basic Pranayama for anxiety:

– First find a comfortable seating position, perhaps asana.

– Then notice your breath and allow for it to come to an even pace.

– Next focus on lengthening your exhales. If your normal is say six seconds, extend it to

seven seconds. Find a suitable length for you.

– Now turn your attention to sound. Gently allow a ‘ha’ sound escape, like a sigh.

Make them as soft as possible from beginning to end.

– Pause briefly at the end of each exhale, resting peacefully in stillness.

– Observe as steadily as possible for ten to fifteen minutes.

If you see yourself as separate from everything outside yourself, there’s a potential to be in conflict with everything. By giving yourself simple, mindful tasks, you are able to draw your focus from a reactionary impulsive state into one of calm conscious being. Free up the bodily tension, quiet the turmoil of the mind and the illusion of isolation lessens

Lastly here is a Pranayama to help with low mood:

– Find yourself seated in whatever position feels best for you. Remind yourself of

compassion in this time as forcing yourself into practice could exacerbate your low mood.

– Allow your everyday breath to calm and smooth out.

– Count the length of each exhale.

– Match the length of each inhale and exhale.

– Continue balancing for about a minute.

– Then every third or fourth cycle add a count to each inhale and exhale until you find a

suitable number is reached. This is known as ‘equal ratio breathing’.

– Let the effect of this breath on your mood indicate the length of time you spend on this

Cexercise. Have a rough goal of about ten minutes.

In Sum

If you can manage to practice breathwork daily (some find best in the morning) you will develop the ability to take conscious breathing breaks throughout your day.  

Pranayama is not something you have to take a yoga teacher training to learn. Thereby exercising the skill of regulating extreme emotional states. Who was it that said the best things in life are free?