pranayama
Regulate the breathing, and thereby control the mind

B.K.S. Iyengar

By Pranayama many people understand breathing exercises, but actually, it is more than that.

The word pranayama is composed of prana – life force and ayama -to lengthen with overotone of control. Pranayamas are techniques for controlling prana.

Pranayama practice aims to extend the dimension of prana within ourselves.

breathing

But in modern terms it is usually described as breathing exrcises to gain extra oxygen, but being a benefit, it is not the main aim of pranayamas. Pranayamas aim to absorb prana  and increase its flow through the body both physical and astral. The control of the prana is attained through breathing exercises.

Our breathing rhythm shows our emotional state. And as the vice versa is also true, by consciously controlling certain brething rhythm we can control our emotional state and calm the mind. Steady and quite breath leads to quite mind.

Pranayamas are practiced with empty stomach, bladder and intestines. During the practice there must be no discomfort or strain. The body should be relaxed, with straight head neck andspine. The best poses for pranayama are considered to be siddhasana and padmasana.

NADI SHODHANA PRANAYAMAnadi shodhana pranayama

Sit in any meditative pose, relax the body, close deeply, and be conscious of the natural flow of the breathing for a few minutes. Place the index and middle fingers of the right hand on the forehead, between the eyebrows. Then place the thumb on the right nostril and the ring finger on the left nostril. Close the right nostril with the index finger and inhale and exhale only with the left nostril five times at normal speed. Then release the thumb on the right nostril, press and close the left nostril with the index finger, and breathe in and out the right nostril five times at normal speed. This process should be repeated 25 cycles. Each cycle is five full breaths through each nostril.

This is the first stage. After 10-15 days practice the second stage: alternative nostril breathing.

Close the right nostril and breath in through the left nostril. At the end of the inhalation close the left nostril and breath out through the right nostril. Then breathe in through the right nostril, close it at the end of the inhalation, and breathe out through the left nostril. The duration of the inhalation and exhalation should be equal. If you breathe in at a count of five, the exhalation should also be at the count of five.

After 10-15 days practice the third stage: breath retention at the end of the inhalation

Close the right nostril with the index finger and breath in with the left nostril. At the end of, the inhalation close both nostrils with thumb and index fingers and retain the breath. Then breathe out through the right nostril and breath in with the same nostril. At the end of the inhalation close both nostrils and retain the breath. Open the left nostril and breath out through the left nostril and inhale through it. The inhalation, breath retention, and exhalation should be equal. After several days of practice, you can change the ratio to 1:2:2. E.g. If you inhale at the count of five, hold the breath for ten and exhale for ten.

After this comes the fourth stage: Breath retention at he end of the inhlation and at the end of the exhalation.

Close the right nostril, breath in through the left nostril and hold the breath. Close the left nostril and breath out through the right nostril and hold the exhalation. The ration at the beginning should be 1:4:2:2, correspondingly inhalation – retention of the inhalation – exhalation – retention of the exhalation. With practice, the duration should be increased keeping the ratio the same. Breath retention should be done without any discomfort or strain.

Nadi Shodhana pranayama clears the nadis and equalizes the flow of the Prana through the Ida and Pingala Nadis. The body absorbs extra oxygen. It helps to clear the blood system from the toxins.

The pranayama should be practiced consciously and under expert guidance.

KAPALBHATI PRANAYAMA kapalbhati pranayama

Sit in Siddhasana or Padmasana. Put your hands on your knees palms facing up. Close your eyes and relax. Then, exhale rapidly with a single movement. When you exhale the abdomen will be drawn to the spine. Concentrate only on exhalation and let the inhalation be as a reflex. Keep doing the exhalation and imagine that with each exhalation all the toxins, all negative emotions, and thoughts are leaving your body, and your mind becomes calmer and purified.

In the beginning, practice for 4- 5 minutes but with regular practice, the duration can be increased up to 15 minutes.

This pranayama helps to
  • regulate blood sugar
  • burn excess fat in the abdomen area
  • reduce the amount of phlegm in the body
  • get rid of constipation
  • cure throat diseases
  • cure skin problems

People with heart diseases and back pains should do the exhalation slowly. Pregnant women should avoid practicing this pranayama.

UJJAYI PRANAYAMA ujjayi pranayama

Sit comfortably, relax, and breathe softly by contracting the glottis of the throat. You will hear the ocean-like sound. The breathing should be done only through the throat, not nostrils. This pranayama is very beneficial for the whole body. It has a calming effect on the nervous system. It reduces the heartbeat and can be beneficial in cases of high blood pressure, as well as is helpful for people who suffer from insomnia.

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