Every Bikram Yoga class begins with two sets of Pranayama Deep Breathing. Pranayama is essential to readying your body for your yoga practice. In daily life most people only breathe with a small portion of their lungs using quick, shallow breaths. Breathing is an automatic process, and most do not spend much time thinking about how they are breathing. Yoga class is the time to slow down the mind, and think about the body and its processes. The only natural place for this to start is breathing.
Pranayama is beneficial for the lungs in many different ways. Again, Pranayama Deep Breathing is a calculated slow, deep breath. It expands the lungs and reminds them that they are deeper than the simple breaths we take in daily life. Using the full lung exercises, expands and strengthens the lungs. The full exhale increases the lungs elasticity and helps the lungs regain their original shape before the expansion of the inhale. It creates natural and good breathing habits. People who practice Pranayama naturally take deeper breaths than those who do not. Practitioners lungs are more flexible and stronger making them thirst for deeper slower breathing.
The lungs are not the only body part that Pranayama benefits. Pranayama helps relieve shoulder, upper back, chest and neck tension through the movement of the arms and head. It tones the abdomen by using abdominal muscles to help with the inhales and exhales. The deep breaths greatly increase to oxygen into the blood stream strengthening the circulatory system and readying the body for class. Pranayama relaxes and focuses the mind. Pranayama is beneficial in relieving stress and can help maintain blood pressure. Pranayama is a crucial and fitting way to start any class.