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The Yoga of Pranayama: Working with the Breath

“Prana” in yoga practice means both “breath” and “life force”, emphasizing the fact that these things are one in the same. The Western world may have adopted yoga as an exercise, but it is much more than that. Some yoga gurus even say that the breath is more important than the poses themselves. Pranayama, or the practice of controlling the breath, can be immensely beneficial when integrated into formal yoga practice.

Pranayama has a mysterious power to soothe and revitalize a tired body, a flagging spirit, or a wild mind. The ancient sages taught that prana can be cultivated and channeled through a panoply of breathing exercises. In the process, the mind is calmed, rejuvenated, and uplifted. Pranayama serves as an important bridge between the outward, active practices of yoga—like asana (yoga poses)—and the internal, surrendering practices that lead us into deeper states of meditation.

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