Mantras originated in the Vedic tradition of India and can be defined as sounds, syllables, words, or group of words that are capable of creating transformation.
I was very lucky to learn yoga nidra (yogic sleep), a powerful raja (royal) yoga technique of conscious relaxation, during my first stay in India in 2004.
The practice of nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breath) restores, equalizes and balances the flow of prana in the body. We can live without eating for some weeks, without drinking for some days, but without breathing only for a few minutes. Dearest Zoya,   Thanks to YOU for sharing your teaching with an open heart - for your dedication sending regular emails and updates online to keep. No part of this website may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission.
This is not just a matter of getting enough oxygen to the lungs and other organs; oxygenating the body (in addition to things like carbohydrates) supplies a building block to the muscle cells to create energy to refuel the muscles.
In fact, breathing deeply and fully can be key when relaxing and releasing tension, says Elliot Greene, a psychotherapist. On the flip side, if we breathe deeply and can release some of the built-up tension -- physical and emotional -- we feel better, Greene says.

From an athletic standpoint, Hryvniak says, belly breathing is recommended because the abdominal muscles are stronger than the diaphragm and can help supply the body with oxygen more efficiently if they are engaged. In many yoga styles, nose-breathing is emphasized for the very reasons Greene mentions -- the calming, releasing, relaxing effects of deep breaths through the nose. But in Bikram (26 set poses bookended by breath work done in a room heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit), the breath work at the beginning and especially the end features mouth breathing.
The practice starts with what's called pranayama breathing (in through the nose and out through the mouth) and ends with kapalabhati breathing (quick mouth breathing). Learning how to be aware and eventually to control our breathing, Atella says, can help slow down the heart rate and inhibit the release of adrenaline and cortisol -- stress hormones that can age us prematurely.
In essence, the breath not only helps us get the most out of the physical practice -- whether it's yoga or running -- but also helps shape up our insides. For athletes, though, the in-breath and the out-breath are not necessarily the same length or quite as instinctive as Greene describes. Proper breathing connects the body to its battery, the solar plexus, which is an enormous reservoir of energy. How to perform: Sit comfortably, keep the eyes gently closed and relax the whole body.

Our shoulders hike up and our throats constrict -- we feel stuck physically and mentally, hardly a relaxed state.
If they hold their breath -- which can happen -- they risk building up too much pressure in the chest cavity, Hryvniak says.
The breathing techniques of pranayama set this energy in motion and revitalise both body and mind. They breathe into the upper chest with hunched shoulders, leading to a lack of oxygen and tension in the upper back and the neck. Many diseases can be nipped in the bud simply by regulating prana: that's the secret of healing. By consciously regulating our breath, we're able to store more prana (life energy) and draw on these energy reserves in our daily life. Deep and conscious abdominal breathing is an effective way to conquer stress and depression.

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