Pranayama: (in yoga) the regulation of the breath through certain techniques and exercises.
Mala: a string of prayer beads, mala is used to keep count of mantra repetitions, or japa, during meditation.
Pranayama are breathing exercises which clear the physical and emotional obstacles in our body to free the breath and so the flow of prana – life energy.
On a physical level by using pranayama techniques we can utilise and strengthen the whole range of our respiratory organs. We explore the lower, middle and upper parts of the breath and regulate the inhalation, retention and exhalation of the breath. A regular pranayama practice can stimulate the parasympathetic system, countering the over stimulation our bodies go through during the Fight or Flight response.
Our breathing patterns are also very closely linked to our emotional states. We will breathe in a different way when we are angry, when we are excited, tired or when we are nervous. However, it works the other way too. We can calm or energize ourselves by changing our breathing patterns. Even by just taking time out to consciously to become more aware of our breath we can help to start to alter our emotional states.