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Pranayama for Relaxation: A Simple Method to Fight Stress on a Daily Basis

written by: nanditha • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 6/28/2011

This article is intended as an introduction to breathing techniques, specifically pranayama.

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    You have walked into your office a bit bleary eyed after a long and grueling commute to work. Instead of grabbing that coffee from the vending machine, sit down and take a deep breath. That will begin a journey into relaxation and rejuvenation, albeit on the office chair.

    Pranayama is an amazing technique used for simultaneously relaxing the mind and energizing the body. When combined with body awareness and creative visualizations, you have a method most potent for your purpose.

    What then is pranayama? Pranayama is made up of two Sanskrit words “prana”, meaning life force and “ayama” meaning to master. Mastering the life force through breath is the ultimate aim of pranayama. In daily life however, there are numerous other uses for this amazing system of breath manipulation.

    How to Practice Pranayama for Relaxation

    Ideally, an airy, quiet and well-lit room would be the perfect space to practice pranayama. Early morning would be the perfect time, but life is not so perfect. This means we have to find creative methods of practicing pranayama, sometimes even on the go. Practice it on the bus, on the train, standing, or sitting. If you find yourself at your office desk a bit fuzzy, stressed out, anxious or just plain bored, then switch off your thoughts by switching into pranayama mode.

    A simple way to get tuned into your body and mind framework would be to simply close your eyes and observe the natural movement of breath into and out of your nostrils. With practice, this could be done quite easily with eyes open while attending to other duties.

    Once you have become familiar with your breath, use it to take you into the deeper areas of your mind and body. Try this: as you inhale, visualize sparks of light rising up your spine and as you exhale visualize sparks of light receding to the base of the spine. Do this several times. This practice is very powerful. Breathing with awareness is in itself a very effective practice to calm an agitated mind. Awareness slows the breath down and so the mind as well. Visualization brings the brain to the alpha state consciously, thereby inducing a state of deep relaxation.

    Benefits & Tips

    This simple pranayama could be practiced everyday, even on the busiest days of a person’s life, or rather especially on the busiest days of a person’s life. It helps restore mental and physical balance, bestows upon the practitioner focus and concentration, the ability to use time efficiently, calmness, poise and confidence in handling all that one has to.

    This practice can be done on a daily basis for ten to fifteen minutes, preferably on a light stomach. Drink plenty of water after the practice as pranayama tends to release bodily toxins into the blood because of it’s essentially purifying nature.

    Remember to turn to your breath for comfort at the slightest sign of mental agitation. Your breath is your best ally during stressful times.