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Pranayama means extension of the breath. Prana is energy or life force and ayama means to extend. Pranayama is used in Yoga practice as a means to calm the mind. Your energetic (or pranic) body connects your physical body to your emotional body via the Chakra’s.
Committing to a regular meditation practice is one of the key ways I care for myself. Research showing the benefits of meditation continue to confirm my commitment. Regular Meditators report being able to ease (& in some cases overcome) the symptoms associated with chronic or debilitating illness, through adopting a self-care regime which includes Meditation. Personally, I feel more positive, grounded, connected and Mindful on days that I make the time for Meditation. I also find Meditation to be efficient pain reduction technique.
Meditation is often cited as a method of calming the mind. Actually, it is quite the reverse – you need to be in a calm state of mind in order to generate the focus required to Meditate. Yoga provides a therapeutic pathway to Meditation by beginning at the gross level of the physical body and moving through the subtle energies of the breath (using exercises of Pranayama), to achieve calmness of mind. These practices improve concentration and focus, on their own a great benefit, but also a pre-requisite for Meditation.
Mindfulness techniques also form a compatible introduction to Meditation and are a great option for those who have other physical practices, or who simply prefer not to (or are unable to) engage in the physical component of Yoga (known as Asana). Asana is only one of the eight Yogic limbs, despite the focus it receives in Western culture. Mindfulness practices have much in common with Yogic practices, including;
- Visualisation exercises,
- Focusing on an object, often the breath,
- Relaxation practices, including body scanning techniques,
- Exploration with the senses such as Mindful eating.
If the above seems to much like hard work, you’ll love Yoga Nidra. Many of the benefits of meditation, no movement required, just get comfortable and listen to a calming voice guide you to a state of great calm.