Zen Pranayama: Science of Regulated Breathwork
Controlled “Life Force” Breathwork enhancing Effective
and Efficient Oxygen Inhalation, Toxins Exhalation,
both Relevant to Wellbeing and Long Life
Pranayama is the science and technique of regulated and effective breathing, the act where we take air (“prana”) from the atmosphere into our lungs, absorb oxygen from it into the blood supply, and exhale the air together with carbon dioxide and water vapour.
In the ancient Indian philosophy of Ayurveda, air is the most important element as it moves the three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha from one part of the body to another and it analyses and separates the body’s elements and excretions. Prana provides energy to all the limbs, organs and glands of the body and thus enables effective functioning. It is Pranika energy, which enables eyesight, hearing, nasal smell and vocal speech. Prana lends lustre to our faces, makes our minds think and enables the alimentary tract to digest and assimilate the food we intake.
On average, we repeat the process of breathing in and out once every five seconds, but it is almost always entirely subconscious. And yet breath is something we take for granted, something so simple and obvious that we never stop to consider how it could be done differently or improved.
The respiratory system is one of the few internal regulatory systems of the body that we can consciously control, and doing so can have tremendous impact on our health and well-being. While emotion almost always affects the breath, for example, it becomes shallow and rapid when we are anxious, fearful or excited and this can go the other way as well. Slowing the breath rate can catalyse calmness, relaxation, and greater mental clarity.
It is ironic we are rarely taught how to breathe air in, to hold the air in, and to breathe out. This is the basis of life, since without air we cannot survive even for a few minutes. The practice of Pranayama is critical to maximizing the effective capacity of the lungs, the fundamental purifying engine of our body.
The practice of Pranayama brings the importance of breath back into focus. It teaches techniques of regulated and effective breathing that have the potential to improve our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing, including prevention and treatment of a range of respiratory, stress-related and psychological conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, hyperactivity, insomnia and early ageing.
Our breathing patterns are also very closely linked to our emotional state. We breathe in a different way when we are angry, when we are excited, tired or when we are nervous. However, it works the other way too. We can calm or energize ourselves by changing our breathing patterns. Even by just taking time out to consciously to become more aware of our breath we can help to start to alter our emotional state.
At Zen Resort Zenchi sunrise session takes place in the tranquillity of the Zen Nirvanum Sanctuary, overlooking a landscape dotted with lush forest, rice fields and vineyards, with wide-open views of the Sea of Bali. Guests go through a 15 minute Zenchi Yoga exercises that enhances blood circulation and this is followed by 15 minutes of a series of Zenchi Pranayama, a series of inhalation – exhalation exercises that increases lung capacity and regulates lung functioning.