MyYogaMentor                Pranayama
~Our first act in life is to inhale, and our last act in life is to exhale.
“Prana” is the sanskrit term meaning breath, and refers to one’s “vital life force”.   Prana is the life force which exists universally.  “Ayama” is the sanskrit term meaning control.  Pranayama; therefore, refers to the practice of breath control.  It is one of Ashtanga’s Eight Limb’s of Yoga, and pranayama practice is an integral part of achieving and maintaining a balance between body, mind and spirit.  Prana is considered the bridge between body & mind.  By using pranayamic techniques either alone, or in conjunction with asana practice, a union is created between the body and the mind.  
Pranayama is an effective means to improve both your overall mental and physical states. The next time you are stressed or anxious, notice how your breathing become shallow in your chest, and your rate of breath becomes short and choppy.   This type of breathing is associated with elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol (stress hormone in the blood).
One session of deep diaphragmatic breathing (a simple pranayama technique), can effectively reduce your heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels.  Pranayama has been reported to be beneficial in treating a variety of disorders; such as stress, high blood-pressure, anxiety and asthma.  Strong lungs are associated with vibrancy, health and well-being.
So, where do we start?