All About Pranayama

A girl doing Pranayama

Pranayama is controlling the life-currents with control over breath. The vital energy of the body is ‘Prana’ and ‘Ayama’ means life force.  Pranayama channels Prana into your body by controlling your breath, hence it is an indispensable part of Yoga. With Pranayama, you achieve a healthy body and mind. It creates a sense of awareness.

Pranayama is fourth among the eight Patanjali limbs of yoga that follows Niayamas, Yamas, as well as Asana. Practicing Pranayama is like drawing the veil away from the mind which gives you clarity. It prepares the mind for deep meditation.

History of Pranayama

Pranayam originated in India 6000 years ago. The ancient rishis and yogis studied nature in details. They came to the realization that animals like elephants, pythons, as well as a tortoise have slow breathed. Thus, they live longer. However, animals with faster breathing rate like rabbits, dogs, and birds live just for a few years. They came to terms with the fact that slow breathing can increase lifespan.

Yogis discovered that breathing is associated with thinking. Every thought can change the breathing rhythm. Consequently, when you are happy, your breathing is rhythmic but when you are troubled, breathing is interrupted and irregular. Yogis realized that it is possible to control breath as well as that, in turn, can control mental activity. This led to the birth of the art of Pranayama.

Pranayama: How Does It Work?

Both the side of the spine has an energetic nerve channel called Nadi: Pingala on right and Ida on left. The energy or prana travels through Ida Nadi. Hence, the breath is drawn into the lungs automatically with an upward movement. Thus, the mind gets drawn to the word of senses, outward.

Thereafter, the energy travels down through Pingala Nadi. The process of energy traveling down is called Apana instead of prana. Physical exhalation accompanies downward movement and marks the rejection of the worldly circumstances.

Happiness is accompanied by sadness when each is caused by every changing external circumstances.

Types Of Pranayama

A man doing Shavasana

Pranayama can be practiced at any time during the day but on an empty stomach. Here are 4 types of Pranayama.

Ø  When your mind filled with activities or you are unable to forget a comment made by someone, look for a quiet corner to practice Bhramari pranayama or Bee Breath. It relaxes the buzzing mind, hence is beneficial for people with hypertension.

Ø  Kapal Bhati pranayama or Skull Shining technique of breathing is taken to be the most significant and efficacious when it comes to clearing energy channels and detoxifying the body.

Ø  People with a low level of energy can try out Bhastrika pranayama or Bellow Breath to aggravate energy levels.

Ø  When you are unable to concentrate, practice 9 rounds of Nadi Shodhan pranayama or Alternate Nostril technique to breathe. Follow it up with ten-minute meditation. Thus, it calms down the center of mind as it brings harmony to the right and left-brain hemisphere. This collaborates with the emotional as well as logical side of your personality.

A woman doing Padmasana

Pranayama can improve general health if practiced on a regular basis. Hence, it can help you to sleep better, improve energy levels and digestion, and fix your mood.