In sanskrit, prana means breath and ayama means extension. The word “Prana” also means “life force” which is nothing but our breath. In Pranayama, we control our breath through regular practice. Pranayama can be defined as expansion and control of prana through various breathing techniques. Pranayama helps in supplying more oxygen to the body. It also helps in flushing out toxins.
Hatha yoga believes prana tattwa is superior to manas tattwa that is mind. Prana is present even during sleep while mind is absent.
Regular practice of pranayama leads to proper functioning of different systems of the human body. Body’s vital systems such as respiratory system, circulatory system, digestive system, and endocrine system.
Benefits of pranayama:
- Pranayama controls aging and helps in increasing the lifespan.
- Pranayama helps in increased supply of oxygen to the body and helps in melting fat as more oxygen helps in burning more fat.
- Pranayam helps to get rid of phlegm, mucus and tonsilitis.
- Pranayama helps to improve digestion and cure constipation.
Pranayama and its Application
Although prana is one it assumes five forms: Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana & Samana. Of these, Prana and Apana are the chief agents. Prana occupies the region close to heart and its function is respiration. Apana occupies the region between lower abdomen to anus and its function is excretion.
The yogi who masters the art of controlling his prana becomes fearless of any power in the universe. Some people in the world who are more successful, consciously or unconsciously, influence “prana”, which yogis can influence as per their will.
Purification by flushing out toxins
There is no other purification technique better than pranayama. Just like a goldsmith removes impurities from gold by heating it in a hot furnace, by blowing through the blow pipe, a yogi blows out toxins by blowing strongly through lungs using breathing techniques that come under pranayama.
Sit in Padmasana, ardha padmasana or Sukhasana depending on your flexibility level and keep your eyes closed. Take a deep inhale through both the nostrils. While inhaling count om for three times in your mind. Then retain the breath till you finish counting Om in your mind for 12 counts and then slowly exhale in steps while you keep counting om for 6 counts. After every exhale pause and retain the breath for next count.
Kapalbhati should be avoided if you have high blood pressure or any heart related ailments. Consult your doctor if you are in doubt.
Anulom-Vilom (Alternate nostril breathing)
Be seated in Padmasana, ardha padmasana or Sukhasana depending on your flexibility level and keep your eyes closed. Close the right nostril with your right thumb, take a deep inhale from your left nostril as much as you can. Now close you left nostril with right ring finger and little finger and exhale through your right nostril after releasing the thumb.
Now inhale through your right nostril and exale through your left nostril. Repeat this for 12 times to complete one round. After one week start doing two rounds and in the third week aim for three rounds.
Surya Bhedan Pranayama (Right nostril breathing)
Right nostril called as the Pingala nadi represents physical energy and body. Breathing through right nostril increases the pranic energy “life force” . Surya Bhedan Pranayama also increases the physical energy and revitalises the body.
Surya Bhedhi Pranayama also improves the efficiency of the digestive system and boosts the nervous system. Sympathetic nervous system has special benefit through practice of Surya Bhedi pranayama.
Benfits of Surya Bhedi Pranayama:
- Increases the body temperature and removes “kapha” or the mucus imbalance.
- Surya Bhedan pranayama is very effective for weight loss.
- Helps to reduce anxiety, depression and other mental issues.
Process: Be seated in Padmasana, ardha padmasana or Sukhasana depending on your flexibility level and keep your eyes closed. Inhale and exhale through your right nostril while you close your left nostril with your left thumb.
Ujjayi Pranayama (Ocean breathing):
The word Ujjayi is derived from sanskrit word “ud” (उद्) + and “ji” (जि): “ujji” (उज्जि). Ujjayi (उज्जायी) means victory.
In Ujjayi pranayama, one has to breathe in (pooraka) through both his nostrils by slightly contracting the throat and exhale through both nostrils. There is a hissing sound created due to the friction of air passing through the throat. The sound is similar to the sound of waves in the ocean and hence it is also called as ocean breathing.
- Ujjayi pranayama cures thyroid.
- Snoring problem can be cured by regularly practicing Ujjayi Pranayama.
- Ujjayi is good for heart.
- Tonsilitis, asthama, cold and cough are cured
- All throat related problems are cured.
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