Practicing breathing exercise or pranayama should be safe if you are supervised by an instructor. Aside from that, you should also consult your doctor before you get into any serious breathing exercise especially if you suffer from breathing problems like asthma or shortness of breath.
Remember that pranayama should be satisfying and enjoyable. Therefore, it should not be practiced in a way that will push you beyond your limits. Some may think that pranayama is all about how long you can hold your breath, which is incorrect. It is about controlling one’s breath in a way that it comes out smoother and more relaxed, making exhalation an important part of pranayama.
Also, you should not practice pranayama if you are emotionally upset or tired. You must be relaxed before doing it so that you will not immediately get exhausted or run out of breath.
Gunaji, author of “Scientific and Efficient Breathing,” recommends the following general principles of pranayama:
o Breathing Exercises should never be pushed to the point of weariness or exhaustion.
o Exercises should not be repeated too often.
o They should not be merely mechanical.
o There should be no hurry or haste.
o Attention should be concentrated on the exercise while it is being performed.
o There should always be variety and change in the exercises.
o Exercise should always be gentle and nonviolent.
o Breathing should not be jerky or irregular, but smooth, steady, and continuous.
The smoothness of your breath is of paramount importance in practicing pranayama. If at some point during practice your breath suddenly becomes rough or uneven, stop and relax. Then, slowly allow your breathing to return to its normal pace.
Some breathing techniques may induce dizziness or even make you lose consciousness. If you start to feel dizzy or think you are about to faint, stop immediately. Relax, and next time you do that certain exercise, be extra careful. Try to assume a position that may be more applicable to that particular breathing exercise.
Also, remember to practice pranayama in a place where there is fresh, clean air and no smoke or other chemicals are present in the atmosphere. This is because in pranayama, air will be pulled deeper into your lungs, so the air needs to be very clean. Remember also to practice it in an area with room temperature; conditions that are too hot or too cold may affect the regularity of your breathing.
These are just some basic guidelines to keep your practice of breathing exercises safe. However, it is always best to have a Yoga instructor with you every time you practice. Keep in mind not to do pranayama up to levels that may make you uncomfortable, and to always do things slowly and carefully.
Written by: ljpasion for ABCofYoga.com