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Introduction to Pranayama Breathing Exercises

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Updated May 16, 2014

Lion's Breath

Lion's Breath

© Ann Pizer

Yoga breathing exercises, also known as Pranayama, are an important part of a developing yoga practice. Pranayama is one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, as defined by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In addition to deepening your yoga practice, learning ways to calm or invigorate the body through breathing will greatly benefit your life off the mat.

Breathing is an involuntary act; it is an essential part of life. Although we cannot control whether or not we breathe, we can control the way that we breathe. A belief that different methods of breath affect the body's health and life force is the core of Pranayama practice.

Calming Pranayama Exercises

A simple breath, perfect for a hot day or after practicing yoga postures.

Vigorous Pranayama Exercises

This advanced breathing exercise should be learned from an experienced teacher, as it is possible to become lightheaded if it is done incorrectly. Once mastered, this breath generates heat and clears the nasal passages.

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