To improve the health and appearance of your skin, Yoga teachers of all schools will attest to the value of breathing correctly. There is a part of the Yoga system devoted to breathing – this is called Pranayama and is often defined as breath control. Most Yoga sessions will begin and end with conscious, deep breathing practises and the Yoga routines themselves are co-ordinated with the breath.
Pranayama is made up of two words – Prana and Ayama. Prana means vital life force or energy. Ayama means expansion or extension. When put together Pranayama means "expansion or extension of the dimension of prana". Taken to its fullest potential, Pranayama offers the method whereby life force can be activated to go beyond the normal limitations and attain a higher state.
However, when employed simply, breath control improves the performance of every cell, all tissues, internal organs and systems. Breathing is the most vital process of the body. It is intimately linked with the functioning of the brain, which controls all aspects of the body including hormone secretion and immune system regulation, both of which are hugely important when dealing with acne. Breathing correctly can detoxify the body by increasing the efficiency of cleansing processes. Breathing itself rids the body of toxins.
WHY DO I NEED TO LEARN TO BREATHE? DON'T I DO IT ALREADY?
We breathe about 15 times per minute, and about 21,500 times per day and although this is mostly an unconscious process, we can bring conscious control to it at any time. Most of us haven't breathed correctly since we were little children when our bodies were flexible and our minds mostly untroubled. With poor posture including sitting in chairs too much, not exercising enough and through even minor injuries, our body's flexibility reduces which in turn reduces our ability to breathe fully. Our minds can also become inflexible, and we shallow-breathe quickly when frustrated and angry or hold our breath when anxious or scared. So depending on the pattern of our thoughts, it is easy to see how our breath can become disrupted thus disrupting the rhythms of the brain which can lead to physical symptoms too.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO START?
Firstly, it is good to begin by observing exactly how you are breathing right now. Are you breathing through your nose or your mouth? Are you breathing quickly or slowly? Do you think you are breathing deeply or shallowly? Notice what part of your chest is expanding – is it the lower part, or the sides of your ribs, or the top of your lungs? Notice that the air coming in is cool and the air flowing out is warmer.
Just noticing these things will automatically being to slow down your breathing rate and establish a more relaxed and natural rhythm. Begin noticing your breathing many times throughout the day.
But to go even further, the following exercise is very helpful to do every day.
Abdominal or deep breathing is the most natural and efficient way to breathe. It is the way we breathed as babies, and you can watch a baby's belly rise and fall when they are sleeping. This is what you are aiming for.
To begin :
You will notice the benefits of this deep breathing on your mental state very quickly, and an improvement in your skin within 2 – 6 weeks. This improvement continues as you maintain your deep breathing practises.