The Krama Pranayama is a gradual breathing process. I think of it as pacing out or
segmenting the life cycle of the breath; consciously moving the breath (and then the body) for the most supportive and pleasurable situation. Just like I would want to do for my life itself.
Directions, benefits and cautions for the Krama Pranayama can be found below.
This style of breathing can be very soothing as it brings in a great deal of oxygen. But it is also incredibly supportive to the skeletal structure of the body. You will notice as you try is in a seated position that the inhale helps to elongate the thoracic spine, reducing excess curvature and hunching in the upper back. The exhale elongates the lumbar spine, reducing excess curvature and engaging greater core support. When you bring this into movement, it transforms the ease of the posture because the breath itself supports the movement. Wow! This means you don’t need to rigidly engage your muscles outside of the breath nearly so much and you find greater ease in the pose.
One of the questions I get asked a lot is: “How do I know which movement to do on the inhale or the exhale?” My answer to you is that while there are great reasons to move against the breath, for the most support always move with the breath the way the gives you the most ease. So, for example, try moving into a forward fold on an inhale – how does that feel? Then try moving into it on the exhale – how does that feel? Which is more supportive, which gives you the greatest sensation of ease? That’s the one to start working with. Link all your postures in a vinyasa (like the moon or sun salutation) together with the breath, consciously moving with the breath in the most supportive way. I could tell you what to do, but your body will remember better, and begin to create the movement even without conscious thought, if you discover this yourself.
Segmented Breathing/Slow Flow Breath
- Sit tall and deepen your breath.
- As you inhale, fill your ribcage first, stretching it from side to side. When your ribcage is full, breathe into your belly. Filling your lungs from the top down.
- As you exhale, draw your pelvic floor and belly in and up to assist the outward movement of your breath. Emptying your lungs from the bottom up.
- Any irritation of the respiratory organs – Do not practice.
- Any feeling of dizziness, return to normal breathing until it passes.
- Calms mind, enhancing introversion
- Oxygenates blood
- Releases tensions in chest and abdominal cavity
- Massages organs, improving digestion and elimination
- Facilitates deeper experience of asana/postures
- Builds strength and endurance
- Can ease respiratory conditions, such as asthma