"What is this pranayama?
Why do we practice breathwork techniques?
How do we tune ourselves up?"
There are 8 Limbs of Yoga. Pranayama is the fourth limb and represents life/energy retention or expansion. Pranayama refers to control of the prana, breath; puraka, conscious inhalation; kumbhaka, retention of the breath; and rechaka, exhalation. Breath retention is an important aspect of the Sattva practice and I bring it to all of my classes. It is through breath retention that we learn stillness within ourselves.
Prana is life force, yama is tuning. When we practice pranayama techniques, we are essentially aligning ourselves. Turning the volume up for ourselves. We tune into our soul nature and we drop any need to be involved in emotional drama. We start to attract other hopeful, growth-oriented people. Our lives begin to awaken, elevate. Yes, all this from Himalayan breathwork techniques!
We learn to use the breath to create more energy and to allow prana (sometimes referred to as kundalini) to rise naturally and organically. We begin to feel lighter, more hopeful. We rise. Ultimately, it is hoped we will achieve a state of no-mind...mastery over the mind. (I'm not there.) We refine our prana, through practice and consistency and we align ourselves. We have within us a limitless capacity to regulate ourselves, to change how we might be feeling, emotionally, physically, spiritually.
Think of it like pushing buttons while you're driving---you can change up the situation! Turn it up, turn it down, go left, put on the lights, open the window, go right, accelerate, rest, stop, accelerate. You can learn how to change your state in this natural manner. Pranayama practice is like getting a tune-up for your car. Except you are learning to tune up yourself.
Try this: Inhale for a 4-count breath. In for 4. Hold for 4. Release for 4. Hold out for 4.