Pranayam – Ayurveda’s Best Gift To Mankind
Prayanam; the word comes from the Sanskrit word ‘prana,’ which means ‘life force.’
“Pranayama” means “breath control.” “Prana” is the Sanskrit word for “breath” or “vital energy” in the body. Prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force on a subtle level, and “ayama” means control. Pranayama literally means “breath control.”
- Prana is described as a powerful force in Yogic texts.
- The act of breathing is at the heart of human existence.
Pranayam is a yoga practice that many people are familiar with. The word comes from the Sanskrit words ‘Prana’, which means ‘life force,’ and ‘Ayama,’ which means ‘to lengthen or work on it.’ In yogic terms, prana refers to the internal force that is necessary for the body’s functioning and vitality.
Prana is a powerful force that flows through the body’s chakras and nadis to keep it healthy, energised, and invigorated, according to yogic texts. In the regulation and maintenance of Prana, breathing is extremely important. It is thought that when Prana is unable to move freely in the body due to blockages in chakras or nadis, a person develops the illness.
The concept of prana and its impact on one’s well-being is more concerned with a person’s mental state, mindfulness, and emotional health. Surprisingly, the way we breathe has the potential to influence how we perceive things as well as our mental health. As a result, pranayama is a straightforward set of breathing exercises and asanas that promote emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
What exactly is pranayama?
Prana, or the fundamental basis of life force, is a universal energy that gives vitality and life to all living beings, according to ancient yogic science. Pranayama is a term that refers to a set of techniques for harnessing and controlling life-giving energy for our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Purak (breathing in), kumbhak (breathing out), and rechak (breathing out) are the three breathing exercises (discharge of the breath). These primarily focus on lengthening, expanding, restraining, extending, and stopping the breath in precise patterns to help us achieve significant health and neurological benefits.
What is the definition of yoga pranayama?
When pranayama is combined with yoga, which is a collection of spiritual, mental, and physical poses or asanas aimed at uniting the mind and body and bringing them into harmony, one can achieve supreme control of the mind over the body, as well as liberation and self-purification. A ruffled state of mind, feelings of perturbation, stress, and inability to control one’s emotions are said to be caused by a lack of a constant flow or blockages in one’s breath.
Obstructions in the chakras, or energy centres of the body, can result from not paying attention to one’s breath and how it flows through the body. This frequently manifests physically in the form of a variety of illnesses and disorders. Pranayama asanas can be done as separate breathing exercises, separate from the yoga poses, or in between the asanas.
How well can we practise pranayama at home?
The essence of the ancient art of pranayam is how simple it is to practise it in the privacy of your own home. You don’t have to go to a yoga studio every time you want to practise pranayama; instead, follow these simple steps at home: It is necessary to learn pranayama before beginning to practise it at home. Your pranayama exercise may cause more harm than good if you don’t get proper guidance. Make sure you have a good video or audio tutorial for yoga pranayama at home. You should choose a quiet, distraction-free corner in your home to practise pranayama asanas.
Your pranayama asanas must be performed in a clean and pollution-free environment. A yoga mat, yoga blocks, and a cushion to sit on are all you need to perform pranayama exercises at home. You might want to invest in some relaxing music CDs to aid your mindfulness practice during yogasana pranayama. Pranayama has a lot of benefits for people who are undergoing treatments like chemotherapy because it induces calmness. It not only assists them in dealing with aggressive treatments but also in reducing anxiety and improving their quality of life.
Who is able to perform pranayama?
Anyone who wants to purify their mind and live a healthy life can practise pranayama exercises. Pranayam can be performed in the following ways: Beginner pranayama can be done by children over the age of eight. Pranayama exercises can be incorporated into a senior’s daily routine. For people who have had surgery, pranayama is a very effective restorative process. Yoga pranayama can aid in the recovery of people recovering from injuries or illnesses. Except for Kapalbhati, all types of pranayama can be done during and after pregnancy. Before beginning, however, a doctor’s approval is required.
Who should refrain from pranayama?
There are some people and conditions that can make pranayama ineffective or even dangerous. These are some of them: Children under the age of eight. Kapalbhati should not be done by pregnant women or those who have recently given birth. People who are stressed or anxious should avoid pranayam because it can increase body heat, which can lead to irritability and anger.
Pranayamas such as Kapalbhati, Bhastrika, Agnisar, and Shitkari is not recommended for people with heart disease, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, or hernia. People who have had stomach surgery should avoid practising Kapalbhati and Agnisar pranayama.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most effective pranayama techniques:
Dirgha, anulom vilom Shitali Ujjayi Bhramari Bhastrika Kapalbhati Sheetkari Shitali Ujjayi Bhramari Bhastrika Kapalbhati Sheetkari
The different types of pranayama are explained.
The following is a step-by-step guide to the various types of pranayama:
This is one of the most effective pranayams for lung health, stress reduction, and relaxation. This is also thought to be one of the most effective weight-loss pranayama techniques. Exhale while sitting in a cross-legged position. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale deeply through your left nostril. Then, using your spare finger, close the left nostril, open the right nostril, and exhale completely. Close your right nostril and inhale through it. Time commitment: 5 minutes, 5-6 times per day Repetition count: 60
Because breathing is at the heart of human existence, it is at the heart of any yogic practice. Breathing improves oxygen delivery to the brain and the rest of the body. Pranayam can have different effects on your mental and emotional health depends on your prakriti. “The majority of people inhale incorrectly. They only use a fraction of their lung capacity. Shallow breathing, or not fully utilising the lung’s capacity, deprives the body of oxygen and prana, both of which are necessary for good health. Breathing correctly is also an excellent way to detoxify the body.
Benefits of Pranayam
There are numerous advantages to practising pranayama. It not only gives the body vitality, but it also improves the quality of prana, making you feel more uplifted, motivated, positive, and happy. Yoga is essentially a practice that aims to cleanse, balance, repair, strengthen, and challenge the body both internally and externally. You’re setting things right internally as you learn to breathe correctly, giving various bodily processes a thorough cleanse. Pranayam is a technique for bringing the body, mind, and soul into harmony. People suffering from anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental-health issues can benefit greatly from pranayama practice.
Pranayam is a technique for calming the mind
Breathing exercises in yoga
Ujjayi breathing is a popular yogic breathing technique in which you take a long breath that fills up your stomach first, then your chest. The stomach is the first organ to inhale, followed by the chest. This allows the body to retain as much oxygen as possible. Ujjayi breathing. It is a great way to get rid of respiratory issues, heart problems, digestive disorders, stress, and lung-related problems. Pranayama comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.
This is a very effective pranayama technique for high blood pressure. This pranayama breathing technique induces calmness and mindfulness because it focuses on creating an ocean-like sound. Breathe through your mouth while sitting cross-legged. Close your mouth and constrict the back of your throat. Continue breathing through your nose while keeping your throat constricted. Duration: 3–4 minutes five times a day 5-10 cycles of repetitions
Yogic breathing techniques are simple to learn and practise in the privacy of your own home. However, before you try any of these, consult with a certified yoga expert. Certain pranayama techniques, such as Surya Bhedi (right-to-right nostril breathing; heat-generating/fire dominated technique) or Chandra Bhedi Pranayam (left-to-left nostril breathing; cooling/water dominated technique), target specific issues and should only be practised after being prescribed.
One of the most popular types of pranayam is kapalbhati, which involves taking a long breath and then exhaling in short, intermittent bursts. Another simple exercise is alternate nostril breathing (Anulom Vilom). Another type of pranayama that helps to strengthen lung capacity is breathing retention. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can; this will ensure that more oxygen is delivered and absorbed. If you have hypertension or a heart problem, however, you should avoid practising breathing retention.
Kapalbhati should be done after Jal Neti Kriya. (Jal Neti is a technique used by yogis to stay disease-free and, more importantly, to use their breath effectively in their yogic practises. Water is used to purify and clean the nasal passageway, which runs from the nostrils to the throat).
This is one of the most effective weight-loss techniques, as well as a tool for lowering the risk of diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure. This pranayama technique is also beneficial in the treatment of stress and depression. Place your hands on your knees and sit cross-legged. Deeply inhale through both nostrils. Forcefully exhale. You can also apply gentle pressure to your stomach with your hands. Passive inhalation is recommended. Time required: 7-8 minutes 1-2 times per day 65-70 cycle repetitions
If you don’t breathe correctly while getting into and out of the posture, your yoga practice will be futile and fruitless. Always remember to inhale when you get into the centre position and exhale when you move away from the centre position when you’re practising a posture. Exhale as you bend sideways or forward, and inhale as you bend backward. Always keep in mind that breathing is closely linked to the heart, and the state of your heart health has a direct impact on the length of your life, so take a deep breath.
This is a simple pranayama technique for beginners that is very effective at cooling down your body, especially in the summer. Warm-up by sitting in a cross-legged position and taking a few deep inhales and exhales. With your back straight and shoulders relaxed, sit in a comfortable meditation pranayama posture. Close your eyes and place your hands on your knees.
Make a ‘O’ with your tongue and stick it out through your curled lips. Your upper and lower teeth should be joined, and the front portion of your tongue should be pressed against the front teeth. Make a ‘OM’ sound by separating your lips and inhaling through your mouth. Begin by slowly inhaling through your mouth, then holding your breath for a few seconds. Exhale slowly and deeply through your nostrils. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Exhale deeply through both nostrils.
Duration: 3–4 minutes five times a day 8-15 cycles of 10-12 breaths are repeated.
Breathing into three separate parts of your abdomen is one of the easiest pranayama techniques for beginners. One of the best types of pranayama for the lungs is this. Lay on your back and watch your belly expand as you breathe into it. To fill your rib cage with oxygen, take a deeper breath. Take a few more deep breaths and feel your chest expand. Start exhaling from your chest and work your way up to your rib cage. Finally, exhale from your stomach. Time commitment: 5 minutes, 5-6 times per day One cycle consists of 10-12 breaths.
For calming the mind and strengthening the lungs, this is one of the most effective pranayama breathing techniques. Close your eyes and sit in a cross-legged pranayama posture. With your fingers and thumbs, cover your eyes and ears. Deeply inhale. Slowly exhale while making a bee-like buzzing sound. Instead of the buzzing sound, you can recite “OM.” Time required: 5-10 minutes five times a day 5-10 cycles of repetitions
This is one of the most effective pranayama techniques for tightening the abdominal muscles and strengthening the digestive and respiratory systems. This is also one of the most effective weight-loss pranayama techniques. Inhale deeply through your nostrils while sitting cross-legged. Exhale forcefully through your nostrils while pumping the air out with your diaphragm. Continue to inhale and exhale. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as it feels good. With a deep exhalation, slowly release the breath. Time required: 7-8 minutes ten times a day 3-5 cycles of repetitions
How to Perform Pranayam
Prana, Apana, Vyan, Udana, and Samana are the five types of prana that are responsible for various pranic activities in the body. Prana and Apana are the most important of these. Prana flows upward, while Apana flows downward. Pranayama practise brings these pranas’ activities into balance, resulting in a healthy body and mind.
The first two fingers of the right-hand palm should be curved, while the last two should be straight and held together. Straighten the thumb and, while bending the right hand at the elbow, bring the curved fingers as close to the lips as possible. Keep your hand glued to your chest from shoulder to elbow. Keep your right hand’s thumb on the right side of your nose and your last two fingers on the left. The right side nasal cavity can now be closed by pressing the thumb, and the left side nasal cavity can be closed by pressing the last two fingers. Light pressure should be applied just below the nasal bone, where the fleshy part of the nose begins. One can close either of the two nasal cavities with this finger arrangement. Only the thumb and the last two fingers are expected to move.
It’s best to keep other parts from moving. To practise breathing more effectively, the face should be kept gay and relaxed. Six supplementary types are also provided in order to practise the inhaling and exhaling cycle. The rate of breathing is faster in all of these types. These are the different types of rapid breathing. These types should be practised after sitting in one of the following Asanas: Padmasana, Vajrasana, or Swastikasana. The left hand should then be held in Dhyana Mudra, while the right hand should be held in Pranava Mudra. To acquire it, the eyes should be closed and the entire attention should be focused on breathing.
Inhale and exhale through both nasal passages while keeping both nostrils open. This type is characterised by rapid breathing through both nasal cavities. Inhaling and exhaling should be done as quickly as possible and for as long as possible.
Take up Pranava Mudra and close the right nostril with the thumb of your right hand, inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling through the same nasal passage. In a nutshell, this type is characterised by rapid breathing through the left nostril.
The left nostril is closed in this type, and quick breathing is done through the right nostril.
Close the right nostril and inhale through the left nostril, then close the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. In this manner, practise rapid breathing by switching nostrils.
This type of breathing is the polar opposite of the previous one, in which the left nostril is closed and the right nostril is used to inhale, followed by the right nostril being closed and the left nostril being used to exhale.
At Yoga Vidya Dham, there is a connection between yoga and nature.
This type of breathing is created by combining the two previous types of breathing, namely, type 4 and type 5. Inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right, then inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left. Later, repeat the process, inhaling and exhaling alternately through the left and right nostrils. Increase the speed of your breathing to transition too fast breathing. Breathing speed can be greatly increased with sufficient practice.
Start with eleven breathing cycles and gradually increase to one hundred and twenty-one without fear. Later on, however, the breathing should be included in the daily practice of other Asanas and should be done for two to three minutes. Slow inhalation and exhalation can be used for all of these types. It’s important to note that doing these kinds of breathing exercises is not the same as doing Pranayama. This is simply a warm-up for the actual Pranayama practice.
Deep Breathing and Fast Breathing are two types of Pranayama (Physiology & Techniques.)
Nadi shodhan, Anuloma – Viloma, or Alternate Nostril Breathing are examples of Pranayama.
Pranayama is the fourth stage of Patanjali’s “Ashtanga yoga.” This means that unless one observes Yama-Niyama and performs Asanas correctly, he will not be able to progress to the fourth stage.
Even the Asanas discussed here are shown in their unfinished state. As a result, completing the Asanas listed here is not sufficient for practising Pranayama. Even after learning and practising these asanas, some preparation is required before beginning Pranayama. And there is an attempt to talk about that preparation.
Pranayama is the act of slowing down the process of exhaling and inhaling. And it is impossible to discuss or guide this important aspect of Yogabhyasa in advance. As with the preliminary exercises that must be completed before the actual beginning of the Asanas, the preliminary breathing exercises for Pranayama must also be completed, and only this portion will be discussed here.
Before looking at breathing exercises, it’s important to understand how breathing works. Inhaling and exhaling are the two main activities in the breathing process. In Yogashastra, the former is referred to as “Puraka” and the latter as “Rechaka.” From the moment a person is born until the moment they die, these two activities never stop.
In Yoga Studies, the state in which these two activities are brought to a halt is referred to as “Kumbhaka.” “Abhyantara Kumbhaka” refers to the pause that occurs after inhaling, i.e. Puraka, and after exhaling, i.e. rechaka. It’s known as “Bahya Kumbhaka.” There are two more kinds of Kumbhaka mentioned. But, rather than going into detail about them, let us focus on the process of breathing.
What are the advantages of pranayama?
Pranayama has a lot of advantages for our physical and mental health. The following are some of the most significant advantages of pranayama yoga steps: Our digestive system and nervous system are inextricably linked, and the health of one reflects the health of the other. Pranayam helps to calm the mind, which helps to prevent gastrointestinal issues like gas, constipation, and hyperacidity. Pranayama is very beneficial for maintaining the health of our respiratory system because it involves controlled and patterned breathing. It aids in the improvement of our respiratory system’s endurance and the prevention of asthma, shortness of breath, and other respiratory problems.
Pranayama is beneficial in reducing the inflammatory effects of the sinuses, filtering allergens, and improving the drainage of sinus passages due to the rhythmic breathing asanas. Pranayama is well-known for its importance in lowering blood pressure. It stimulates the body’s cells, resulting in increased oxygen intake. This improves blood circulation while also lowering pulse and mean arterial pressure. Deep breathing exercises, also known as pranayama, aid in the regulation of inflammatory markers in the body. This, in turn, aids in the development of immunity and the prevention of infections. When yoga and pranayama are combined, they have a significant impact on the quality of our sleep. This aids in the reduction of fatigue as well as the enhancement of our personal and professional productivity.
When yoga and pranayama are combined, it has a huge impact on our cognitive functioning. They aid in the induction of a state of mindfulness, which aids in the enhancement of our reactions, memory, and retentive power. Pranayama, when combined with Surya Namaskar yoga, aids in childbirth and improves women’s reproductive health. The combination of yoga pranayama stimulates the pancreas, which aids in the release of insulin. This aids in the prevention of diabetes as well as the management of its symptoms.
What are the drawbacks of practising pranayama?
While there are no inherent disadvantages to pranayam, some risks may arise if the steps of pranayama are not followed correctly. These are some of them: Pranayam entails a lot more than just gentle breathing exercises. It’s possible that not learning how to do it from an expert will cause more harm than good. Backache or strain can result from not maintaining proper pranayama posture while performing it. Without proper instruction, doing yogasan pranayam can cause strains and sprains in your muscles and limbs. Overdoing these postures can cause fatigue and stress because yogasan pranayama produces body heat. Inadequately performing yoga asanas and pranayama can result in illness or injury.
What are the do’s and don’ts when it comes to pranayama?
Here are some pointers on how to get the most out of pranayama. Dos: Pranayam should be done on an empty stomach. Always include a warm-up and cool-down session when combining yoga pranayama to avoid fatigue.
Don’t do pranayam if you’re feeling stressed or anxious. It could put undue strain on your heart. To avoid illnesses and injuries, beginners should not begin pranayama techniques without proper guidance. Overdoing the yoga steps of pranayama can cause joint destabilisation and sprains. Women who are pregnant or menstruating should never perform pranayama steps without first consulting their doctor. Before doing pranayama breathing exercises, people with a hernia, high blood pressure, heart disease, celiac disease, and those who have had stomach surgeries should always consult their doctor.
What are the requirements for practising pranayama at a yoga studio and at home?
The following items are required to practise pranayam in a yoga studio: Clothing that is both comfortable and breathable Blocks for yoga Hand towels and a yoga mat are required. a bottle of water Things to have on hand if you’re doing pranayam at home include: Clothing that is both comfortable and breathable, yoga Mat and yoga Water.
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