Many of us are unaware of the importance of breathing properly. We use only a fraction of our potential respiratory capacity. So what is special about Yogic Breath or Pranayama? Pranayama is made of two words Pran and Ayama. Pran is the life force energy that resides in our human body and mind. Ayama includes stretch, extension, expansion, regulation, restrain, control. Pranayama works on all these aspects of breath. Pranayama cleanses the blood vessels and helps with ailments of the sense organs. While Deep breathing is beneficial, Pranayama can be powerful. Inhalation and exhaustion is a continuous process, the retention of breath is very important. But how long should we retain? It depends on the breathing technique. This blog will breakdown the multiple benefits and techniques of Pranayama as well as sanskrit translations.
Pranayama has 3 aspects:
Inhalation called PURAKA
Exhalation called RECHAKA
Retention called KUMBAKA.
Some mental benefits include:
Improves concentration and creates clarity of thought.
Increased ability to deal with complex situations
Better emotional equilibrium
Reduce anxiety and stress.
Some physical benefits are:
Proper oxygen circulating to the cells
Very effective for asthma, allergies, cold, cough etc.
Allows the body to get rid of internal toxins naturally.
Let's break down a few breathing techniques!
1. Anuloma Viloma.
Begin seated in any comfortable posture with a straight spine.
Exhale slowly and completely through both nostrils
Immediately inhale through your abdomen.
Do not make noise or strain
Complete inhalation do not retain any air, start exhalation.
Important point keep your exhalation longer than inhalation.
This is the simplest of Pranayama. It helps tone the nervous system and releases recurring headaches.
2. Ujjayi Pranayama
Sit in a comfortable posture with spine straight.
The air in the lungs should be exhaled first through both the nostrils and slowly inhale through both nostrils. ( 3 to 4 seconds abdominal breathing)
As soon as you inhale perform the Mula Bandha (contracting the pelvic floor while simultaneously holding the BREATH in the lungs by pressing the Chin to Chest).
Retain this breath( Kumbaka) for 10 to 15 seconds.
Release the Bandha and start exhaling 8 to 10 seconds. The exhalation should be do need with Left Nostril while Right Nostril will be closed by Right Thumb. Please note in
Ujjayi Pranayama the Inhalation is always through Both Nostrils while the Exhalation is ONLY through the LEFT NOSTRIL.
3. Bhamari Pranayama (Brahman means Bee. While breathing the sound resembles the buzz of a Bee).
Sit in Vajrasana (hero pose) or any comfortable sitting pose.
Close both ears with Thumbs
Cover your eyes with Index finger and Middle finger.
Ring finger touches the edge of your Nostril (not close the nostril)
Pinky to edge of your lips.
Other techniques include:
Surya Bhedana (activate nervous system)
Chandra Bhedana (reduce body heat)
Nadishodana (cleansing blood vessels and arteries)
Kapalbhati (skull or head clearing)