What are the Benefits of Pranayama?

I discovered first-hand the benefits of pranayama when I was going through the meditation teacher certification process at the Chopra Center.   I learned from many wonderful teachers and I want to share what I have learned.  Pranayama enhances not only meditation but many other aspects of life.

What exactly is pranayama?Benefits of Pranayama

Pranayama is the ancient practice of controlling your breath. When you consciously control the timing, duration, and frequency of your breath, you connect your body and mind.  This conscious, deep breathing also supplies your body with oxygen while removing toxins.

Have you ever followed a guided meditation when you are instructed to close your eyes and just pay focused attention to your breath?  You follow the inflow and outflow as you inhale and exhale.  These few moments of conscious breathing at the beginning of meditation are a type of mindfulness practice. 

Focusing on the breath brings you into the present moment. 

Especially this past year as so many have struggled with COVID, I have been more conscious of breathing and have felt daily gratitude for just the ability to breathe easily.  

I also love to practice pranayama because it helps me get unstuck.   Many of my spiritual teachers say that if you ever feel stuck in old patterns of thinking, focusing on your breath can help.

eight limbs of yogaPranayama is one of the eight limbs of yoga. 

Let me explain more about that.

I learned in my Chopra meditation certification that when people in the West hear the word yoga, they picture physical poses that are done on a yoga mat.  And, the poses or asanas that are performed are another of the eight limbs of yoga.

In this Blog, when I use the word ‘yoga,’ I’m referring to something broader.  The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word Yuj, meaning to unite, come together, or yolk.

Yoga is a union of body, mind, and soul with universal consciousness.

This union between ourselves and the divine is constant.  Meaning it is always there; it is part of our essential nature.

But life brings distractions.  Sometimes we can feel disconnected from our divine nature.  It is easy to become focused on daily demands and pressures.  Stress, imbalance, and burnout are common experiences.

The practice of yoga  — (meaning the eight limbs of yoga) — can help us stay tuned into our divine connection.  As we stay tuned in, we are more mindful of and connected to what our body needs.  

pranayamaWhen we practice yoga, we are better able to recover from stressful experiences. 

Our thinking has more clarity so that we can make better and healthier choices.  Our energy level increases and physical and mental well-being improves.  Yoga not only enhances our self-awareness, it can also help us better understand others.  

There are so many benefits from practicing yoga; tuning into our body; recovering from stress; clearer thinking, greater well-being, and improved awareness of ourselves and others.

Pranayama, as one of the eight limbs of yoga, plays an important role.  

In Sanskrit, “Prana” means life energy, and “Yama” means control.

When you practice pranayama you breathe in a specified pattern. You consciously inhale, exhale, and hold your breath in a particular sequence.

Used with the other limbs of yoga, like physical postures (asanas) and meditation (dhyana), the practices combine to help us live well-rounded, meaningful lives.  But pranayama also has many health benefits on its own:  


  • Decreases Stress
  • Improves Sleep Quality
  • Increases Mindfulness
  • Reduces high blood pressure
  • Improves lung function
  • Enhances cognitive performance

As an artist, I like to think about living a more creative life to allow for new perspectives.   Before I begin any new work, I breathe deeply and consciously.  

When you breathe deeply you can feel yourself consciously shifting. 

Taking a few deep, cleansing breaths assists in allowing new thoughts to arise.   I think of it as allowing my creative self to come forward and finding a fresh, renewed way to view the work. 

One of my yoga teachers says; If you control your breath, you can control your life.  If you would like to learn more about Pranayama and learn specific breathing techniques, enroll in my free course Learn the Benefits of Pranayama Breathing 

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