Pranayama (Sanskrit: प्राणायाम ) is a Sanskrit word translated as “breath control”.The word is composed of two Sanskrit words: prana meaning life force and either ayama are to restrain or control the prana, implying a set of breathing techniques where the breath is intentionally altered in order to produce specific results. It is a yogic way and its origins in ancient India. It serves as the link between the consciousness and the mind. It was believed that once the breath starts to wander, the mind also becomes unsteady. Once the breath is still, your mind is still as well.
Importance Of Pranayama
Pranayama plays a very important role in Yoga that directly or indirectly affects the proper functioning of different systems of the body. If you practice pranayama regularly, it shows beneficial impacts upon the respiratory system, circulatory system, digestive system and endocrine system. Pranayama makes sure more oxygen to lungs and good for hearts too. Pranayama tones up kidney and control the functions of nervous system. Kumbhaka of breath helps the supply of oxygen or exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide thus facilitates better work of lungs and helps the brain to work more efficiently. Pranayama affects autonomic nervous system which controls heart rate, glandular secretions, respiration, digestion and blood pressure.
Patanjali Yoga Sutra Knowledge Sheet 85
Contd. from knowledge sheet 84
“Tasminsati shwasaprashwasayorgativicchedaha pranayama’’ (II Sutra 49)
“In that state of being in asana or posture, breaking the movement of inspiratory or expiratory breath is regulation of breath.”
There, in that state of asana, obstructing the flow of breath that is natural. You are blocking the natural flow because your flow is not natural at all. We have made our breath so unnatural, is unnatural. So whatever is natural is now unnatural. We have to revert backward. How do you revert back? It’s not just by accepting what is. “However the breath is going, I accept it”. No. Gati vichchedaha – break its movement. Break the movement of the breath by consciously breathing long, subtly and with counts and having attention at different places.
The next sutra:
“Bahyabhyantarastambhavruttirdeshakalasankhyabhihi parid rash to dirgha suksh maha’’ (II Sutra 50)
“Internal and external breath and total restraint of breath is regulated by place, time and number and thus the breath becomes long and subtle.”
This one sutra has described all the pranayamas, just one sutra. Breath in, hold and breath out with different counts; while having attention on different parts of the body. In one sentence, in one sutra, all the pranayamas are summed up.
There is one more pranayama which happens automatically. When all the thoughts, ideas in the mind and the objects are cleared, there is a natural pranayama which starts. It throws out all the impurities from the mind. That is the fourth pranayama.
“Bahyabhyantaravishayakshepi chat rt haha’’ (II Sutra 51)
The fourth type of pranayama happens when the regions of internal and external breaths have been gone beyond of.
Types Of Pranayama
- Quiet Breathing, Deep Breathing, Fast Breathing
- Tribandha and Pranayama
- Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama
- Ujjayi Pranayama
- Bhramari Pranayama
- Pranayama from Hatha Yoga (Surya Bhedan, Bhasrika, Ujjayi, Shitali, Sitkari, Bhramari, Murchha & Plavini Pranayama)
Benefits of Pranayama
- Pranayama creates oxygen circulation smooth, helps in weight regulation by melting fat as more oxygen burns more fat.
Pranayama is the key of Intelligence.
- It provides lightness to the body; acts as diseases destructor brings vigor and power.
- Pranayama helps in lungs expansion thereby improves its efficiency and makes it healthy.
- It also helps in contending blood pressure and heart diseases; makes digestion smooth.
- It cures the phlegm, mucus and tonsillitis problems. Makes your gums and teeth healthy.
- Pranayama transfers stillness and calmness to the mind, increased concentration and stability of mind.
- Pranayama is good for physical, mental and spiritual happiness.