Pranayama is considered a crucial part of your yoga practice. 'Prana' is a sanskrit word that translates to 'life force' or 'the breath' while 'yama' translates to 'control'. The practice of pranayama is to therefore control the breath and by doing so increase your life force and enable this energy to to flow freely throughout the entire body.
There are multiple types of pranayama and each are responsible for a different effect on the body, some stir heat (ujjayi, kapalabhati, box breathing) while others can have a cooling impact (Sheetali, Sitkari).
The Wim Hof method is a breath technique pioneered by Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof (read more about Wim here) and is intended to optimise your health and immune system along with significantly improving blood circulation, fat burning and concentration. Paying attention to the breath is the main intention here and I find this particular breathing technique to be a great stress reliever. In the current chaotic climate, a stress response can be triggered easily and prolonged or chronic stress can cause fatigue, diabetes, obesity, sleep disorders, skin conditions such as psoriasis, high blood pressure and numerous autoimmune disorders.
Trying to stay mentally fit during this period of self-isolation is crucial so I wanted to share Wim's technique with you - you can practice any time of day and in any position that is comfortable.
The Wim Hof Method
~ find a comfortable position (either sitting or lying)
~ rest your palms on your thighs
~ breathe in completely and breathe out completely (either through the nose or mouth) with no pause between inhalation and exhalation and repeat 30 times.
~ on the final round, take a deep breath in and hold for 1 minute
~ exhale fully and take a deep breath in and hold for 15 seconds
~ repeat this cycle 3 or 4 times
Wim offers an audiovisual guide that can help you maintain rhythm and pace during your breathing exercises, you can find it here.