Introduction of Pranayam Yoga
The word Pranayam is made of two words Pran + Ayam, Pran means life and Ayam means length or age. The yogic practice which increases the life span is called Pranayam. In the Yogic practice, the definition of Pranayam is to control Pran, that is why before knowing Pranayam we should understand Pran. Now the question is What is Pran?
Pran means the power of consciousness which is omnipresent in the entire universe and present in our body, that is called Pran, because the mind and all the sense work, this is the subtle form of Pran. There are five Pran air and five sub-pran air:
The purpose of the Pranayam is to take Pran to all parts of the body and make them healthy, thus we can say that there is a close relationship between the Pran and Air. There are three sequences of each pran that are:
Rechak: To expel breath
Poorak: To breathe in
Kumbhak: To hold your breath. Kumbhak is also divided into three categories:
- Inner Kumbhak – Breathe in and then stop the breath.
- Outer Kumbhak – Breath out and then stops breathing.
- Kaivalya Kumbhak - Stop the breath wherever it may be.
The ratio of these sequences should be 1:4:2, but for beginners, it should be 1:2:2. Before starting the Pranayam one should know about the Nadis and Bandh, there are 72,864 nadis (tubes) in the body, in which three are very important. These are:
Ida Nadi (Chandra Nadi) – Breath which is flowing from the left nostrils is called Chandra Swar, it cools the body.
Pingla Nadi (Sun Nadi) - Breath which is flowing from the right nostrils is called Surya Swar, it heats ups the body.
Sushumna Nadi – This is between both Ida and Pingla nadi and goes down the base of the spinal column.
There are three types of bandhs, which should be done while doing Pranayam, these are:
Mool Bandh – In this bandh the anus muscles are pulled up as much as possible, that is called Mool Bandh. This bandh helps to treat ailments like piles, hernia, and nightfall.
Uddiyan Bandh – In this bandh the stomach is pulled inwards and the navel upwards, this is known as Uddiyan bandh. This bandh helps treat stomach disorders, indigestion, and strengthens the lungs.
Jalandhar Bandh - The chin is held down tight and pressed onto the heart after contracting the throat, that is called Jalandhar Bandh. This bandh helps to improve your voice and remove throat ailments.
When do we have to do these Bandh?
Poorak – Mool bandh and Uddiyan bandh should be done during Poorak.
Kumbhak – Mool bandh and Jalandhar bandh should be done during Kumbhak.
Rechak - Mool bandh and Uddiyan bandh should be done during Poorak.
Pranayam Types, Benefits, and Method
All Pranayams we can do at home, are listed below with their type, benefits, and method. You can start with Anulom-Vilom.
This pranayama helps to purify Nadis that is why it is known as Nadi Shodhan Pranayam. This Pranayam helps to learn to inhale and exhale Pran Vayu (Air). This Pranayam can be done in any season.
Benefits – It helps to purify the Nadis or tubes of the body, purify the blood, lungs become strong, eyesight improves, and mind concentration enhances.
Method – Sit on the floor on a Yoga mat in a Padmasan pose, close your eyes, and join the index finger and middle finger of your right hand and join the ring finger and small finger. Keep the thumb separate and put the thumb on the right nostril and breathe out from the left nostril. Then breathe in from the left nostril and close the left nostril with the ring finger and small finger and do the inner Kumbhak.
Now remove the right thumb and slowly release the breath, after a few seconds do the outer kumbhak, now inhale from the right nostril and close the nostril and do the inner kumbhak, then slowly exhale. In the starting so only 5-6 repetitions, then gradually increase.
Bhrahmri means Goddess of Bees, or drone, the name derived from an Indian black bee called Bhrahmri, it is also called humming bee. This Pranayam should be done at bedtime.
Benefits – It helps to lower blood pressure, gives relief from hypertension, increases concentration, releases tension, increases sleep quality, and soothes nerves.
Method - Sit on the floor on a Yoga mat in a Padmasan pose or Sukhasan pose, put the upper two fingers of both hands on the forehead, gently press the forehead with the third finger, and press the nose. Rest fingers should be put on the lips. Now inhale through the nose and do inner kumbhak for a few seconds, then release the breath by making the sound of a humming bee. Do this 4-5 time then gradually increase, when you are making a sound of a humming bee, it creates a vibration in the body that pacify the brain and the nervous system.
Ujjayi Pranayam is also known as Ocean Breath, the word Ujjayi is made of two words Uch + Jayi, which means to control pran. It is done to control the body’s respiratory system; it can be done in any season.
Benefits - It helps to remove lung ailments, cough, cold and tonsils, indigestion, dysentery, and control high blood pressure.
Method - Sit on the floor on a Yoga mat in a Padmasan pose or Sukhasan pose and close the eyes, touch the tongue with the upper portion of the mouth, inhale, and while exhaling makes a sound from the mouth. Do this 10 times and then gradually increase the repetition.
Bhastrika is a Sanskrit word that means “bellow”, in this pranayama the air is sucked in and expelled as is done by the bellows of a blacksmith. That is why it is called Bhastrika Pranayam. This pranayama can be done in all seasons, avoid doing this pranayama if someone has a heart and high blood pressure problem.
Benefits – It helps to clean the windpipe and removes the aliments related to Vata, Kapha, and Pitta, it also helps to remove cold and sinus problems.
Method - Sit on the floor on a Yoga mat in a Padmasan pose or Sukhasan pose, and keep the chest, neck, and head straight. Close the mouth tightly then close the right nostrils, now breathe in and breath out with force by the left nostril ten times making a sound of the bellow of the blacksmith. The stomach should go inward while breathing out and go outward while breathing in. Do the same with the right nostril and increase the repetition gradually.
Surya Bhedi Pranayam
Surya Bhedi Prayayam is warming pranayama, it is made of two words, Surya (Sun) + Bhedi (Piercing), that work on the central nerve and activates the Surya Nadi, that is why it is called Surya Bhedi Pranayam. It should be done in winter.
Benefits – It increases the heat in the body and helps to give relief from cough, cold asthma, and from diabetes.
Method - Sit on the floor on a Yoga mat in a Padmasan pose, close the left nostril with the ring finger and small finger joined together of the right hand. Inhale with the right nostril and do kumbhak for some time. Then release the breath with force from the right nostril, start five times and increase gradually.
Chandra Bhedi Pranayam
Chandra Bhedi Pranayam is known as left nostril breathing in English, it is made of two words Chandra (Moon) + Bhedi (Piercing), in this pranayama, the poorak is done by the left nostril through the left swar. It should be done in summer.
Benefits – It helps to cool the body; the heat of blood subsides. It is beneficial for skin ailments like acne, pimples, and boils.
Method - Sit on the floor on a Yoga mat in a Padmasan pose, then close the right nostril by the right thumb of the right hand, inhale the left nostril, and hold your breath as much as possible. Repeat the same with the other side. Do 5-10 times a day then increase the repetition gradually.
Precautions while doing Pranayam
- Always do Pranayam in a clean and green environment.
- Do not do Pranayam for two hours after a meal.
- The best time for doing Pranayam is before sunrise.
- One should not do Pranayam in case of pregnancy, sick, or weakness.
- Do not do Pranayam in bed.
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