Pranayama: Breathing Yogic Exercises

written by Aashita Gupta, medically reviewed by

07 Oct,2017


Pranayama: Breathing Yogic Exercises

 

Pranayama is a yoga practice which essentially involves breathing exercises. ‘Pranayama’ the word, is a combination of prana, i.e. life force and ayama, meaning to regulate. Hence, Pranayama is basically working in the dimension of prana.

 

Understanding Prana

Prana is the life force that nourishes mind and keeps the body active. It flows through thousands of subtle energy channels called ‘nadis’ and energy centres called ‘chakras’. One’s state of mind is determined by the way prana flows through the nadis and chakras. If it is high, continuous, smooth and steady, the mind remains calm and positive. But, the nadis and chakras in the average person may be partially or fully blocked due to lack of knowledge and attention to one’s breath, thus leading to negative qualities like stress, fear and conflicts. 

 

Types of Pranayama

  1. Nadisodhana or Anuloma Viloma

(Alternate nostril breathing)

 

Ratio and timing:

 

  • For beginners, the duration of inhalation and exhalation should be equal.
  • Gradually make 1:2; inhalation: exhalation.

Technique:

 

  • Sit in any meditative posture.
  • Keep the spine and head straight with eyes closed.
  • Relax the body with few deep breaths.
  • Keep the left palm on the left knee in Jnana The right hand should be in Nasagra mudra.
  • Place the ring and small fingers on the left nostrils; fold the middle and index finder. Place the right thumb on the right nostril.
  • Breathe in from the left nostril; then close the left nostril with the small and ring fingers and release the thumb from the right nostril; exhale through the right nostril.
  • Next, inhale through the right nostril.
  • At the end of inhalation, close the right nostril, open the left nostril and exhale through it.
  • This complete process is one round of the Nadisodhana or Anuloma Viloma Pranayama.
  • Repeat 5 rounds.

 

Benefits

The main purpose of this pranayama is to purify nadis, hence nourishing the whole body. Nadisodhana induces tranquillity and helps to improve concentration, thus increasing vitality and lowering stress and anxiety. This pranayama is also helpful in elevating cough disorders.

 

  1. Bhramari Pranayama

 

Techniques

Type-I

  • Sit in any meditative posture with eyes closed.
  • Inhale deeply through the nose.
  • Exhale slowly in a controlled manner while making a deep, steady humming sound such as that of black bee. This is one round of Bhramari.
  • Repeat 5 rounds.

Type-II

  • Sit in any meditative posture with eyes closed.
  • Inhale deeply through the nose.
  • Close the eyes with index fingers, mouth with ring and small fingers and ears from respective thumbs. This is also called Sanmukhi
  • Exhale slowly in a controlled manner while making a deep, steady humming sound such as that of black bee. This is one round of Bhramari.
  • Repeat 5 rounds.

 

Benefits

The practice of Bhramari relieves stress and helps in alleviating anxiety, anger and hyperactivity. The resonance effect of humming sound creates a soothing effect on the mind and nervous mind.

 Caution:

Bhramari pranayama should not be practiced in case of nose and ear infections.

 

A regular and sustained practice of Pranayama can significantly change your life. It enhances the quality of life by keeping you calm and free of stress. Our breathing pattern is directly linked with our emotional states; we breathe differently when we are angry, nervous, tired or excited. Thus, we can calm or energize ourselves by changing our breathing patterns. 

 

Related Article: All You Need To Know About Yoga

 

References:

Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), Government of India, ‘Common Yoga Protocol’, PDF(accessed on June 9, 2017)

 

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. 

 


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