Yoga

Pranayama Yoga – The Power Of Breathing And Its Benefits

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Pranayama is a Sanskrit word which means an extension of prana or breath control. Pranayama benefits are extensive and easy to understand and inculcate in your daily routine. Yoga and Pranayama go hand in hand. Yoga can never be complete without doing Pranayama. Most of the problems of the body are resolved internally if we breathe right and that is what pranayama deals with. Yoga and Pranayam together work as magic healing your body internally and improving your flexibility thereby keeping you fit and diseases at bay.

Pranayama Yoga

Many people believe that performing pranayama is much more beneficial then to spend hours hitting machines. Pranayama keeps you calmer, and many working people opt for it because of mental relaxation. Pranayama not only keeps us healthy, it meditates our mind, also cures many diseases that too without any application of medicines. Pranayama also teaches us how to gain our self-control. It builds our concentration power much stronger. You can do pranayama at anytime of the day or anytime feasible. With pranayama, even yoga asana is helpful as you will get more results with that. Many pranayama experts say that there are a few basic asanas which provide immense development benefits to the children as well as for adults.

What is Pranayama Yoga?

Among all the yoga exercises, the simplest form of yoga is pranayama. Yoga Pranayam (also spelled as Pranayama) may be defined as a process and technique which purifies our whole nervous system including the brain. It brings stability to our mind. Everyone desires to have these qualities, but very few do possess. Pranayam is done before starting any asanas. It can be said as a warm-up exercise before starting the asanas. It removes laziness and drowsiness of the body and gives a peaceful feeling experience to our body. It energizes our mind with new vigor and peace.

The term Pranayam has been constituted by two words: Prana (energy) + Ayama (flow). Prana is the principle of development and sustenance both of the nervous and cellular tissues of the body and the mind. Pranayam is a similar process of natural breathing. It hardly offers any scope of artificiality. In this yoga pranayama exercise, we breathe allowing the airs to enter through the nose and depending on one’s general health and strength of the lungs; it is retained inside and then is exhaled. This natural intake and outflow of the breath go on continuously.

The difference between this natural process and the ‘Pranayam’ is that in the former the inhalation and exhalation are not necessarily connected with the mind. In pranayama, air continues to own the natural functioning of the heart and lungs. The inhalation and the exhalation are not done with any set duration of time. In some people, the inhalation process takes a longer time than the exhalation, and even the opposite may occur in some other people.

Practicing these breathing exercises regularly helps in the removal of the waste materials which are normally carried out by our digestive system, urinary system and of course through the skin.Yoga Pranayam includes pressure changing process which improves our circulation benefiting our intestines and kidneys in the same way as do the other abdominal viscera. For mediation and relaxation we often spend hours in spas/ massage parlors, but even doing pranayama for few minutes relieves us from our stress and keeps us calm. So instead of opting for spas, few minutes of pranayama also works.

Few Pranayama Yoga Benefits:

  • Pranayam is suitable for all aged people.
  • It keeps the person balanced in all the conditions and situations, a high standard of health, vigor,and vitality.
  • It even increases concentration power.
  • Pranayam helps our body to get an adequate supply of oxygen and allows carbon dioxide to expel efficiently along with purifying the blood from the toxins.
  • It allows people to recover from anxiety and depression and is also beneficial in treating other stress-related disorders.
  • Pranayam, when done regularly every morning, is very beneficial in the treatment of different levels of blood pressure is it low or high and also cures heart disease.
  • It manages psycho-physical diseases, relieves stress and cerebral tension lowering other problems like anger, anxiety, insomnia.
  • It makes our mind more alert and perceptive and works excellent for pre-meditation.
  • It gives inner strength and brings confidence plus it removes the sensory distraction of mind.
  • It speeds up the healing power of our body.

Types of Pranayam:

For doing all the asanas, we first need to know about a few yoga asanas or postures for sitting. Basically, every asana works completely when they are performed accurately. So for performing all the pranayama types, we first have to sit in Sukha Asana. Sukha asana is the easiest and the most comfortable posture for meditation where our head, neck,and trunk should be kept in line without a curve. There are a total of seven types of Pranayama yoga poses which are explained in detail below along with the Pranayam yoga images.

1. BHASTRIKA PRANAYAM (Bellows Breath).

Bhastrika pranayama is an exercise for breath in yoga; it purifies and balances the entire incorrect imbalance in the body. The ancient yogis called this pranayama as the ‘Breath of Fire.’ The inhalation and exhalation both are done through nostrils. It is an energetic and powerful breathing exercise in yoga. Due to this pranayama, we get full oxygen in the body, and we feel energized and fresh.

Pranayama Yoga

How to Practice:

  • A person should sit in Sukha Asana or Dhyanasana and breathe in deeply so that your lungs get full with fresh air and force your abdomen out. This will make your chest to expand with your collar bones rise.
  • Breathe out quickly dropping the collar bones, chest deflating, and abdomen shrinking as the lungs collapse. Repeat the process.
  • When correctly done, your chest will expand when you breathe in and deflate when you breathe out.
  • Speed up your breathing with more practice.
  • It gives relaxation and calms our mind.

Benefits:

  • The immune system is improved
  • It helps the common cold
  • Three dos has properly balanced
  • Lungs are strengthen
  • It helps in asthma, thyroid, tonsil, and allergies
  • It is also helpful in low blood pressure
  • It refreshes mind and body
  • It improves memory
  • It purifies blood and toxins are removed

2. KAPAL BHARTI PRANAYAM (Shining Forehead Breath):

Kapal bharti pranayama releases all the toxins from the body through outdoor breath. It is very powerful breathing which not only helps in weight loss but also balances the entire system. With this pranayama, you will surely have shinning forehead from the outside but also from inside with sharp and refined intellect. Due to a hectic schedule and long working days are you feeling lifeless and dull? Here is a way to rejuvenate your soul inside out with the help of Kapal Bharti pranayama.

Pranayama Yoga

How to Practice:

  • A person should sit in Sukha Asana or Dhyanasana and take a deep breath.
  • Inhale normally keeping your inhalation slow but unforced. Allow the lungs to expand, and the abdomen move out; then feel your chest expand with your collar bones rising last.
  • Exhale from nose forcefully by pulling in your stomach muscles.
  • Exhalation should take much less time than it took to inhale.

Benefits:

By doing this Kapal Bharti Pranayam for 15 minutes or more every day, one can cure

  • Diseases like obesity, indigestion, acidity, gas-related problems
  • Cures breast cancer and all other abdominal related diseases
  • It helps in the removal of dark circles and stress from the eyes.
  • It energies your nerves and brain
  • It uplifts your mind and soul
  • It will glow your face and activate your body
  • It helps in weight loss
  • Cleansing of airway inside the body
  • Improving muscle tone
  • Relaxation

3. BAHYA PRANAYAM (External Breath):

Bahya means ‘Outside,’ and this pranayama focuses on breathing outside. You have to exhale the breath completely in this pranayama and then hold all the chakras or bandhas in the body. This pranayama helps in curing all reproductive organs system. Therefore, it increases digestion and reduces constipation. It helps in the evolvement of ‘kundalini power.’ Bahya pranayama can be practiced 3 to 4 times in starting later can be increased upto 21 times maximum.

Pranayama Yoga

How to Practice:

  • A person should sit in Sukha Asana or Dhyanasana and inhale deeply through the nose.
  • Exhale forcefully using your stomach and diaphragm to push the air away from your body.
  • Now slowly try to touch your chin to your chest and pull your stomach in completely. Here the goal is to leave a hollow below your ribcage so that your front muscle wall of the abdomen is pressed against the back.
  • This position and your breath should be held for as long as it is comfortable. Then slowly lift your chin up and breathe in slowly so that your lungs get full of air.
  • Repeat this process 3 to 5 times.

Benefits:

  • By doing this Bahya Pranayam, one can cure all problems related to abdominal and intestines.
  • It helps the person suffering from diabetics as bandha help in the improvement of reproductive organs the insulin is controlled and therefore the diabetics.
  • Organs like spleen, stomach, intestine, uterus, kidney, etc. get fresh blood supply when all the bandhas are released.
  • It helps in getting more focused and concentration
  • It also helps in sharpening the memory.
  • It also helps in urinary and sperm-related problems.
  • It helps in gaining self-enlightenment and tranquility.

4. ANULOM VILOM PRANAYAM (Alternate Nostril Breath):

Anulom vilom pranayama is one of the core practices of Pranayama. Also known as alternative breathing practice, it was evolved by ancient yoga is to activate higher consciousness, purify energy body and balance the nadis.

How to Practice:

  • A person should sit in Sukha Asana or Dhyanasana and take a deep breath with one nostril open and the other closed by the use of your fingers.
  • Press the right thumb against your right nostril to block it.
  • Inhale slowly through the left nostril so that your lungs get full with fresh air.
  • Slowly remove your thumb from your right nostril and keep your right hand beside your nose.
  • Exhale completely in a slow process with the right nostril so that your lungs get free from all air. Once you finish your exhalation process, keep your left nostril closed.
  • Use your ring or middle finger close to your left nostril. It is easier to continue using the same hand to block either nostril for some people, but you can switch hands depending on which nostril you’re blocking. If your arm gets tired, you can also switch them alternatively.
  • In short, Inhale through the right nostril. Fill up your lungs with fresh airs. Close the right nostril first then open the left nostril.
  • Continue for 15 minutes. You may take a minute’s rest after every five minutes of exercise. Breathe out slowly through the left nostril.

Benefits:

Practicing Anulom Vilom Pranayam for about 15 minutes a day one can cure diseases like:

  • It helps in migraine pain and hypertension.
  • It relieves from tension
  • It has infinite healing power
  • Helps in curing diseases like asthma, blood pressure, arthritis, bronchitis
  • It also improves heart health

5. BHRAMRI PRANAYAM (Bee Breath):

“Humming bee breath” is another word for Bhramari pranayama. The primary purpose of doing this is to calm our nervous system. The name itself says humming; the name is derived from the black bee called bhramari in India. If you get hyper anytime in a day or at an awkward place, you can do bhramari pranayama and calm yourself instantly. It is a simple practice which can be done anywhere.

How to Practice:

  • A person should sit in Sukha Asana or Dhyan asana then close his/her eyes.
  • Block your ears by placing your thumbs on them; keep your index fingers over your eyes blocking the light to enter in your sight, and the remaining fingers along the sides of your nose. Keep each small/ring finger near a nostril.
  • Breathe in deeply through the nose allowing the diaphragm to move down so that the lungs can expand and force the abdomen out; then feel your chest expand with your collar bones rising last.
  • Use your small/ring finger to partially close each nostril to keep your lungs filled with air.
  • Breathe out through the nose while humming. It is vital to originate the humming sound in from your throat, not allowing it to sound like a result of your partially-blocked nostrils. Repeat three times.

Benefits:

  • It can cure all diseases related to eyes, ears, nose, throat and nervous system.
  • It helps in paralysis
  • It relieves anxiety, anger,and tension
  • Insomnia people can get relieved with this exercise
  • It helps in concentration and memory building
  • It also builds confidence
  • It helps in reduction of the migraine problem

6. UDGEET PRANAYAM (Chanting Breath):

It is one of the simplest pranayamas. It is also known as ‘Omkari Japa,’ which simply means the chanting of the pure word ‘OM.’ This pranayama should be practiced daily as the primal sound will awaken the mind to its fullest potential. It is best practiced early in the morning or when emptied 5 hours between the meals. It is the art of conscious breathing and slow breathing also.

How to Practice:

  • A person should sit in Sukha Asana or Dhyanasana then close his/her eyes.
  • Breathe in deeply through the nose and exhale very slowly while saying OM. When you slowly pronounce OOM, allow your syllable to draw out as slowly as it can be possible.
  • You should keep it in your mind to pronounce the O long and the M short (‘OOOOOOmm’).
  • Repeat 3 times the process for about 15 minutes.

Benefits:

  • It can cure all diseases related to throat and nervous system.
  • It helps in relieving tension, anxiety,and anger
  • It is the best exercise for breathing
  • It provides stability and calmness to the mind
  • It helps problems like sleep and a bad dream
  • It improves concentration and memory power
  • It helps in curing acidity and problems related to the digestive system
  • It controls disorders of the kidney
  • It keeps control of high blood pressure also.

7. Pranav Pranayam:

Concentration on your inhalation and exhalation after doing yoga is called Pranav pranayama. It is the simplest pranayama of all others. It can be practiced before or after all the pranayama as a start and end to all the yoga exercises. It can be called as the simplest type of meditation.

How to Practice:

  • First of all sit in Padmasana, Sukhasana or Vajrasana pose quietly.
  • Normally breathe in concentrating your mind on inhaling and exhaling.
  • It is important to imagine that God is everywhere and is present in every particle.
  • Make it a routine to practice this asana for 3 minutes to 1 hour as per your available time.

Benefits:

  • This yoga asana gives physical and spiritual energy to our body.
  • Practicing this yoga asana gives relief from mental stress and helps us overcome the other physical disorders.
  • Gives good health and helps in strengthens the mind.
  • Meditation.
  • Increases concentration.
  • It helps in building a spiritual development and widens our perspective viewpoints.

Few Important Instructions to be Followed During Asana:

  • Practice the asanas over a blanket spread on either floor or in the garden.
  • Avoid wearing spectacles while practicing asanas. They may be broken, or they will injure your eyes.
  • Wear comfortable clothes when you practice asanas.
  • Maintain a routine for doing pranayama. Those who do not practice it on a regular basis will not derive any benefit.
  • The best time to perform the asanas is in the morning; though if you cannot take out time in the mornings just remember to practice it with an empty stomach or at least three hours after food.
  • Never change the asanas. If you do one set of asanas today and some other tomorrow and so on, you cannot derive any benefit. You have to perform the same asanas everyday though you can add new asanas in your routine and perform it regularly with the other asanas.
  • The more steady you are on the asanas, the more you will be able to concentrate and meditate. You cannot get on well in your meditation without allowing your mind to be one-pointed and have a steady posture. So follow a regular routine of asanas.
  • Do not force yourself or your body to do any yoga or pranayama that makes you uncomfortable. It may cause you an injury, and you may not be able to continue.
  • You should try and practice pranayama with a qualified instructor and not by yourself in the beginning as you make not know the correct posture and hurt yourself.
  • It is always recommended to sit for 5 minutes after every yoga session at the end to bring you in your normal life back.

Pranayama means Hatha Yoga, which is nothing but an Indian tradition, which makes use of different pranayama techniques. Pranayama is the way which leads to the preparation of the mind for the state of meditation and concentration. Ideally pranayama should be done for 30 minutes in the morning and one must ensure that the right pranayama is done at the right time and avoid doing pranayama after meals. Hope this article helps you with yogic pranayama and harmonizes your mind, body and spirit,please do share your feedback.

Frequently Asked Questions And Answers:

1. How long should I practice pranayama in a day?

There are many pranayamas which are easy and can be done by anyone. Some of them are anulomvilom, deep rhythmic breathing, etc. You can increase the duration of Pranayama as per your convenience and can increase upto 30 minutes of each of these. If you experience any discomfort while doing any of these, you can stop. Pranayama helps you overcome any problem which is related within.

2. What’s the best time to do Pranayama?

If you want the best results, you should do pranayama early in the morning before the sunrise. The oxygen will be highest in the morning without pollution. The other thing is that you will be fresh early in the morning with no thoughts lingering in your mind.Initially, the benefits are less but as it gets a routine or becomes a way of life it will be very obvious.

3. What is the difference between Pranayama and yoga?

Pranayama consists of exercises that can clear your physical and emotional in your body to release the breath and let the prana flow inside. Whereas yoga is a pure form of physical exercises that improve flexibility, balance, increases strength, endurance.Yoga controls the body while Pranayama controls the breath. Yoga should be done first, and then you should lie down in savasana and then later do pranayama, you should not force your body for anything.

4. Can you achieve fitness with yoga?

It is not enough to do yoga or asanas to reduce weight and stay fit. Thus a healthy lifestyle, appropriate yoga routine (meditation, pranayama, asanas) and the knowledge given during the course will help you keep fit. All these things are effortless and natural to do. Yoga will help you with all the external problems in the body. It is best to do yoga with a well-trained yoga trainer to get the best results and stay fit.

5. Do you need to go to the gym if doing yoga regularly?

If you are hitting the gym, you can do yoga to release muscle and stress afterward. It helps the body from burning out and do not let you get excessively fatigued. The muscles get toned by doing this. This will compliment your gym schedule and helps you keep the body from burning out.