Pranayama – A Yoga Breathing Exercise


Breath and Prana
Breathing is a vital process which starts at the time of birth and stops at the death. The important Oxygen is provided to all the parts, organs and cells of the body. The maximum time a person can survive without oxygen is about 4 minutes. All the metabolic processes require oxygen. Oxygen is life, a vital force. This vital energy is called Prana(the sprit of life)

Definition of Pranayama:
The process of controlling the Prana(life) is called Pranayama. So pranayama is the science related to vital force supplying energy and controlling the body mind complex.Two Sanskrit words are combined in the word ‘Pranayama’ – Prana and Ayama. ‘Prana’ means life or life force. ‘Ayama’ means development or control. Therefore Pranayama is the development and control of life force. It is a form of breathing exercise, very important in yoga. It goes along with the asanas or exercise.

Breath is the life force that sustains life. Nobody can survive more than a few minutes without air. When the breath stops, life ends. The Forefathers of Yoga developed a special system- ‘Pranayama’ to increase, develop and control this life force. Normal breathing use only a fraction of our potential respiratory capacity. Pranayama helps to control this life force in a superior and extra ordinary way to reap maximum benefits.

Breathing is the process of taking in this vital energy and removing the waste products out of our body and mind. Generally breathing includes inhalation and exhalation but pranayama includes retention of breath (known as “Kumbhaka” in Sanskrit) as well. This is a very important process. The air can be retained in the lungs or out of the lungs. The ancient texts say that retention of air, increases the level of prana (energy) in the body, also it regulates the flow of pranic energy through out the body. So pranayama helps remove all the ailments and also can stop the aging process of the body.

All the inside activities of the body are due to the ever going process of combustion or oxidation in the body. And this process of combustion works with the help of the respiration and the blood circulation. Therefore, the moment there is internal or external movement of the body, it affects the process of blood circulation and respiration. As a result of this increasing the speed of the breathing provides the needed oxygen for the concerned movements.

Mind and breath
The mind, consisting of thoughts and emotions is closely related to the breath. When the mind is calm and relaxed, the breathing is smooth and slow. If you are stressed breathing is fast & shallow but mostly through chest. When one gets angry, the breathing becomes fast and forceful, in depressed states sighing, when in pain gasping, in anxiety shallow and rapid. In this way, the mental and emotional states affect breathing.

Since we want to control the breathing after studying the process or system of respiration, it is better to try deep breathing as the first state in that direction. We do not control the process of quiet breathing. But the control is to be exercised while practicing deep breathing. For this, two things are to be considered chiefly:First, the movements concerned with inhaling and exhaling are to be controlled in order to further slow down the breathing, at the same time the need of oxygen for the body is to be lessened, so that the speed of breathing can further, slowdown. The constitution of the body is such that if the need or use of oxygen is not reduced, it becomes difficult or rather impossible to control the process of breathing. The easy way to reduce the need of oxygen is to stop the movements of the body and try to relax all the muscles. Obviously, while practicing deep breathing, it is necessary to keep the body in the stable and relaxed position.

Rhythmic Breathing is Pranayama 

All the processes and organs like heart, brain, digestive organs, endocrine glands in the body have rhythms. Also the breathing has specific rhythms. Pranayama is Rhythmic breathing, bringing the breath in natural rhythm by controlling the process of inhalation, exhalation and retention.

After examining and understanding these basic systems of breathing, we may turn to the supplementary types of breathing: The breathing passage in the nasal cavity is divided into two owing to the mid partition between two nasal cavities, viz. the left and the right.

In Yoga, the left nasal cavity is called Chandra Nadi (The moon passage) or œIda Nadi” and the right nasal cavity is known is “Suryanadi” (The sun passage) or “Pingala Nadi”. Inhaling (Puraka) and Exhaling (Rechaka) can be done either through one of these nasal cavities or with both of them.

Physiology of Yogic breathing

In process of breathing, one uses diaphragm, intercostals muscles in the chest. The diaphragmatic breathing is called vertical breathing and is considered a more efficient way to inhale air than inhaling while expanding the chest which is called horizontal breathing. .
In pranayama, one should utilize the diaphragm efficiently to get more oxygen without making more efforts. The diaphragm is attached to the organs like heart and lungs, also the liver, spleen, pancreas and stomach from the bottom side. Efficient movement of the diaphragm makes the functioning of these organs more efficient.

There are various types of Pranayama. Some of the popular forms are Ujjayee, Shitali, VilomaKapalabhati, Anuloma, Suryabhedana Bhastrika etc. There are variations in performing different Pranayamas. Some of them can be done in a sitting position while others in a standing line or sitting position. Some of the Pranayama are difficult and complicated to perform while others are easy.

Pranayama can be mastered only gradually. It may take months or even years before the practitioner mind becomes receptive to the regulated flow of breath and he experiences the full benefits of pranayama. Proper practice of pranayama can control almost any disease but improper practice may give rise toall sorts of respiratory ailments. So one should take care to acquire control over his breath gradually.

Click to see:->

*Yogic Breathing & Pranayama
*The Proper Technique Of Brahmari Pranayama
*All About Power Pranayama
*Breathing Is An Integral Part Of Pranayama
*How To Do A Brahmari Pranayama
*To Beat The Heat, Practice Pranayam
*7 Steps To Complete Pranayam
*Different Types Of Pranayams : The Correct Way To Perform Them
*Eight Supreme Benefits Of Pranayam


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3 thoughts on “Pranayama – A Yoga Breathing Exercise

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