Yoga is a healthy and peaceful way of livelihood to be incorporated into everyone’s daily life for a better living. It works on all phases of the person: the material, fundamental, psychological, emotional, supernatural and sacred. Pranayama is the soul of every yoga asana to control the breath.
Prana means “life force or essential energy” which is alive in everything, whether living or non-living. Ayama means “to extend or draw out”. With that being said, Pranayama is all about controlling Prana, the most essential energy required by both physical and sensitive layers without which the body would perish. It is very healthy and beneficial to buy an eco friendly yoga mat before starting pranayama.
Pranayama drives extra oxygen to the lungs and also authorizes the flow of oxygen to NADEES, the energy channels of the body. While you practice pranayama, you triple the lung capacity of inhaling oxygen. And as the oxygen intake is increased, the metabolic rate gets increased and all the body parts will get benefited.
Prior considerations of practicing Pranayama:
- Make sure to sit in a room with optimum temperatures i.e., neither too hot nor too cold. Too cold temperatures contracts lungs, making it difficult to breath
- Incase if you’re suffering from cold, it’s advised to skip pranayama as inhaling forcefully may tense the body. Hence, you can practice Pranayama as long as the airway is clear.
How to sit while practicing Pranayama?
It all depends on your flexibility. While the best way is to sit with the feet crossed. Depending on your flexible you can either bring the front foot on the hip joint or can move into a complete lotus position. This posture keeps the spine erect and is the idlest posture for pranayama.
While practicing pranayama, make sure you sit facing towards east direction.
You can choose to sit in a chair incase if you’ve any problems with your legs or if you’re aged, but make sure that the chair has a straight back support. If you’re practicing Pranayama in the chair, then the feet should touch the ground completely.
Types of Pranayama:
Nadi Shodhan Pranayama:
- Sit down cross legged on the floor and close your eyes.
- Raise your right hand and keep your thumb finger on the right nostril, index finger and middle finger on forehead and the little finger and ring finger on the left nostril. While the left palm rests on the left knee facing the sky.
- Close your left nostril and inhale deeply through the other. Close the other nostril as well with the thumb and hold your breath as long as you can. Release left nostril and exhale through your left nostril and hold your breath outside.
- Now, inhale through the left nostril, close both nostrils and hold on as long as you can. Open your right nostril and exhale.
- Repeat these steps for 5 minutes.
Benefits: Nadi Shodhan Pranayama has great importance in any yoga regiment. It calms your mind while the deep breathing cleanses your system.
- Sit down in the lotus position and close your eyes.
- Take a deep breath and use your stomach muscles forcefully to expel your breath.
- Again, take a deep and slow breath and expel again forcefully.
- Continue doing the same for 5-10 minutes.
Benefits: Kalpalbhati Pranayama supplies rich oxygen to the body and clears sinuses. Strengthens stomach and abdomen muscles.
- Sit down in the lotus position with your eyes closed.
- Place your right elbow on your left palm and close your left nostril with your right hand ring finger.
- Breathe slowly and deeply through your right nostril slowly and deeply then exhale slowly.
- Continue to take deep and slow breaths.
Benefits: Suryabhedan Pranayam helps to renew your energy levels and makes you feel energetic and full of life.
- Sit down in the lotus position and eyes closed.
- Place your right elbow on your left palm and close your right nostril with your right hand thumb.
- Breathe slowly and deeply with the left nostril.
- Do this for about 5-10 minutes.
Benefits: Chandrabhedan Pranayama helps to calm the mind and relaxes your body. It’s more helpful for people suffering from insomnia.
Lom Anulom Vilom Pranayama:
- Sit down in the lotus position.
- Close your left nostril with the right hand ring finger. Take a deep and slow breath through your right nostril.
- Now close your right nostril with thumb and release the breath through your left nostril. Now, take a deep breath through your left nostril and then release it through the right nostril.
- Do this for 10 cycles in the beginning and increase it gradually.
- Finally, come back to the lotus position.
Benefits: Lom Anulom Vilom Pranayam Calms your mind. It is excellent for reducing stress.
Surya Bhastrika Pranayama:
- Sit in the lotus position
- Place your right elbow on your left palm and close your left nostril with the ring finger. Take a deep rapid and forceful breath through the right nostril and expel it forcefully.
- Continue doing this for a while. Take a deep, rapid and forceful breath through your right nostril and expel it forcefully.
- Take a deep breath and close both your nostrils and tuck the chin into your collarbone.
- Hold in this position and breathe for as long as you can.
- Release you breathe and come back to the lotus position.
Benefits: It helps to clear congestion and fills you with energy and vitality.
Pranayama for Longevity: Pranayama is the process of controlling the breath. While you master at controlling the breath, you can live longer.
Pranayama for Emotional Health: Today we are facing a lot of health issues either physically or mentally. When you can control the mental behaviors, the physical issues can be controlled automatically. So people with emotional problems like heart problems, high and low blood pressure can be easily cured with pranayama.
Pranayama for Psychological Health: When you say psychological health, it means everything related to the mind. These days, everyone’s lives are filled with stress, pressure and anxiety, irrespective of age and gender. The best way to handle psychological illness is to practice Pranayama every morning. Though you may do hard fitness exercises, which only help you to get strong muscles which means physical fitness. With pranayama, you will relax your mind and muscles, which helps in handling the stress hormones and makes you a lively person.
You may start off with a couple of minutes at the beginning and then slowly move on increasing to 10-20 minutes. You can choose to practice pranayama several times a day as certain pranayama poses relax your body while some others will energize your body.
The best way to understand the benefits of Pranayama is to practice it and make it a part of your daily activities.