Ravi Dixit is a UK-based yoga guide on Wanderlust TV. Check out his new Immunity Boosting Pranayama course published here this December.
A question that many are concerned with – what is the difference between “modern” breathwork and pranayama? Let's get that straight.
Ravi: Pranayama is yoga science based on the expansion of Prana Shakti, our life energy. The breath is a tool for improving the quality and quantity of prana in the body, but pranayama is more subtle than just the breath. When we work with pranayama, we are working with energy channels called nadis. These nadis are the channels through which our energy flows, they exist in our body, even though they are not physical, you cannot see them.
Modern breathing work is generally more focused on the physical body, training the lungs, physical endurance, and calming the mind. Pranayama is about working on the inner body, it focuses more on the subtle dimensions that we cannot see, and it has a deeper connection with our physical, mental and spiritual existence.
Pranayama is also known as Antar Yoga, which means "Inner Yoga". Asanas represent the "outer yoga", Pranayama is the inner yoga.
The breath helps the body to maintain this vital force, it stimulates every organ to work properly and it increases our consciousness. Stress, poor health or certain thoughts can lead to blockages in our system. Working with the principles of pranayama can help purify our nadis to ensure that the energy in our system can circulate as it is supposed to be.
The result is feeling easier, fit, and healthy physically and mentally.
YesOur new pranayama course focuses on immunity. What are the core principles of pranayama that help increase the strength and resilience of the immune system?
Ravi: The breath is our body's most important tool for our health. It is the most important tool for life; When our breath is gone, life is gone. Pranayama calms and heals the nervous system, provides more oxygen in the blood, which in turn strengthens the immune system. Working with our breath to improve the circulation of our Prana Shakti can help solve all kinds of problems in the body and improve immunity, not only physically but also mentally.
Are the pranayama techniques different for those who live in colder climates compared to those who hibernate in warm places, or does it have a more universal approach?
Ravi: There are some pranayamas that work better in certain weather conditions, for example Sheetali and Sheetkari pranayama, which are designed to cool the body, and Chandra Bhedi pranayama. I would recommend not practicing this in colder weather. In general, if you practice pranayama outdoors, when it is very cold or windy, or vice versa, when it is very hot, it is better to go indoors for your practice.
Should we practice more pranayama in winter?
Ravi: Just as we eat every day and sleep every night, we should really practice pranayama every day. Then it goes from being a mere practice to being a lifestyle. Regular pranayama practice is incredible for maintaining health.
However, including pranayama at any point in your life will certainly help strengthen your body and mind when we are feeling more tired and lethargic, and will help us stay healthy during the time of year when we are more prone to viruses .
Can you name a situation or event in which you used pranayama techniques to overcome that experience?
Ravi: I went through a time when pranayama helped me heal myself. I had a serious traffic accident in late 2020 that almost cost my life and spent over a month in intensive care on a ventilator. Pranayama played a huge role in my recovery, which returned to life and health.
But to be honest, regular pranayama practice had fully affected my life long before that. Ever since I became aware and pranayama became part of my daily life, it has helped me understand who I am, what I am doing, why I am doing it – all of which have made it very clear. Clarity is a way to live a comfortable life.
WL: Do you have a favorite technique that is an absolute must in your pranayama practice?
Ravi: Nadi Shodhana Pranayama – alternative nostril breathing.
This is one of the pranayamas that can help clear up many mental and physical problems. If you practice this pranayama properly on a daily basis, there are so many benefits, too many to list here. It brings instant mental clarity, it heals the nervous system, increases energy and strengthens the immune system. You will feel lighter and connected very quickly. If you practice this pranayama regularly, you don't even need to do many other pranayamas.
I personally practice Nadi Shodhana every morning at the beginning of my day.
Ravi "the smiling yogi" was born in India into a family of spiritual teachers and grew up at a young age with a yoga practice as part of his daily life. In his early twenties he lived in the Mahatma Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh, where he studied Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga with the renowned yoga master Yogi Ji. For the past decade, Ravi has taught thousands of students from around the world across India and the UK and recently opened his own yoga resort in Goa. In his work as a yoga teacher, Ravi is passionate about making the original principles of traditional Indian yoga understandable for everyone and combines movement, breath and sacred mantras in a playful way.
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