The Myth and Magic of Pranayama
Yoga Journal|November - December 2021
BREATHING is a unique autonomic function. The process of continues, day and night, even when you’re not paying attention to it. On the other hand, you can also control your breath when you choose to: You can hold it when you concentrate or go underwater or try to stop your hiccups.
By Judith Hanson Lasater. Photography by David Martinez. Illustration by Wren Polansky

You can direct it to practice pranayama. The breath is a communication pathway between the mind and body that we can trust to keep us alive.

Why Breath Matters Many students of yoga seem to believe that the “goal” of pranayama is to breathe deeper and deeper and to actively hold the breath longer and longer. But in traditional yoga teachings, the opposite is taught. The core of pranayama practice is to slow and quiet the breath, not to increase its volume. This has a profound effect on the body. After many years of practicing pranayama, I have found that after slowing and quieting the breath, it almost seems to disappear, leaving a residue of profound stillness in my body and in my mind.

You can use your breath to connect with yourself, to calm down, to help subdue a panic attack, to help you give birth, to meditate, to practice yoga asana, and sometimes to lessen your experience of pain. Pranayama practice can slow down your breathing rate gradually over time—something which research suggests can

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM YOGA JOURNALView All

Jivana Heyman Has a Revolutionary Idea: Make Yoga Accessible to Everyone

For the Accessible Yoga co-founder, "anyone can do yoga” isn’t a feel-good social media slogan—it’s a lifelong mission.

10+ mins read
Yoga Journal
January - February 2022

Home Sweet Home Practice

The next time the demands of teaching make-at-home yoga feel like a chore, channel these reasons to unroll your mat.

2 mins read
Yoga Journal
January - February 2022

Know Your Knee

It holds you up and propels you forward. Here’s how to take care of your body’s largest joint so you can stay limber and pain-free in your practice.

4 mins read
Yoga Journal
January - February 2022

The Purifying Power of Heat

Practicing Tapas proves that making an effort generates energy.

5 mins read
Yoga Journal
January - February 2022

3 Ways to Soothe a Sore Throat

Ease pain, irritation, scratchiness, and swelling— no OTC meds required.

2 mins read
Yoga Journal
January - February 2022

Modern Vinyasa FOR THE MASSES

Teacher Calvin Corzine brings a functional yet challenging approach to yoga with an emphasis on making everyday movement easier.

7 mins read
Yoga Journal
January - February 2022

Mindful Messaging: Why LOL Just Doesn't Cut It

Sure, it’s easy to fire off those little blue messages. But these tips can help you slow down your communications and practice intentionality.

4 mins read
Yoga Journal
January - February 2022

ROMANCING YOUR DOSHA

The secret to improving your relationship? Enhance your understanding of yourself and your partner.

4 mins read
Yoga Journal
January - February 2022

I Began to Truly Live Yoga When I Quit Teaching It

Walking away from my practice actually drew me closer to it.

5 mins read
Yoga Journal
January - February 2022

REMOTE Reiki

Can the healing energy technique work across distance and space?

5 mins read
Yoga Journal
January - February 2022
RELATED STORIES

Lo bueno del ego

Tiene mala reputación, pero si sabes cómo gestionarlo, el ego podría ser la clave de tu felicidad.

10+ mins read
YOGA JOURNAL SPAIN
Yoga 123 Enero - Febrero 2022

Yoga Asanas To Practice before Retiring to Bed

Sleep is so important for our health, especially for our immunity and nervous system.

3 mins read
Women Fitness
September 2021

Estados alterados

Ya sea para meditar, practicar asanas en casa, o simplemente para relajarte un rato, un altar personal puede ser un modo bonito de ayudarte a reconectar con tus propósitos genuinos para tu práctica y tu vida en general. Inspírate en las historias detrás de estos tres hermosos altares domésticos, y diseña el tuyo propio.

7 mins read
YOGA JOURNAL SPAIN
Yoga 120 Julio - Agosto 2021

Yoga Asanas For Optimum Pelvic Health

Yoga poses can be very helpful for realigning the pelvis so that the pelvis muscles, fascia, and other contents Yare more balanced.

2 mins read
Women Fitness
July 2021

7 Yoga Asanas to Practice with Arthritis

A general guideline for people who suffer from arthritis & practice yoga is to not force or push your way into positions. Move around gently to compress and release the areas involved in the movements and move slow enough so you notice how you feel and know when to move further and when to back away.

3 mins read
Women Fitness
May - June 2021

Cómo mover una idea a través de los chakras para materializar tu dharma

Solemos oír hablar de los chakras en términos de salud: son los centros energéticos dentro del cuerpo que te equilibran física y mentalmente. Pero los chakras son algo más que ruedas energéticas; son el mapa de carretera para alcanzar tu dharma (tu propósito, o el gran motivo por el cual estás aquí) en la vida.

5 mins read
YOGA JOURNAL SPAIN
Yoga 119 Mayo-Junio 2021

Yoga y mindfulness infantil - Niños con cuerpos y mentes en paz

Descubrimos los materiales ecoresponsables Soul Mates para acercar el Yoga y el mindfulness a los más pequeños. Conoce su historia a través de su creadora, la psicóloga perinatal Amy Holden.

4 mins read
YOGA JOURNAL SPAIN
Yoga 119 Mayo-Junio 2021

La importancia del Yoga Flow lento en un mundo tan ajetreado

Conozco bien lo que son el estrés, la ansiedad, e incluso los ataques de pánico.

10+ mins read
YOGA JOURNAL SPAIN
Yoga 123 Enero - Febrero 2022

Cuídate mientras trabajas

En este nuevo espacio que inauguramos con Carla Sánchez y The Holistic Concept, hablaremos de cómo podemos cuidar cuerpo, mente y las emociones que surgen en el día a día en el trabajo; un lugar donde a pesar de no contar con esterilla es posible hacerlo. Técnicas de Yoga, relajación, meditación, respiración… adaptadas a este contexto.

5 mins read
YOGA JOURNAL SPAIN
Yoga 122 Noviembre - Diciembre 2021

Cómo el Ayurveda cuida de nuestra salud y la del planeta

Es invierno, llevamos un año de pandemia, y estoy hablando por Skype desde mi casa en Boston con un médico en Secunderabad, la India.

10+ mins read
YOGA JOURNAL SPAIN
Yoga 122 Noviembre - Diciembre 2021