Pranayama are breathing exercises which clear the physical and emotional obstacles in our body to free the breath and so the flow of prana - life energy. Through a regular and sustained practice of pranayama you can supercharge your whole body. The way that we move, think, act and especially breathe contributes to the flow and vitality of prana - the universal energy that runs through us and everything around us. Your body is like the wick of a candle and the mind is like the glow all around it. ‘Prana’ is the vital energy needed by our physical and subtle layers, without which the body would perish. It is the prana or life force in us that nourishes the mind and keeps the body alive. ‘Prana’ refers to the universal life force and ‘Ayama’ means to regulate or lengthen. Pranayam means working in the dimension of prana.
According to Sri Sankaracharya," Pranayama is the control of all life-forces by realizing naught but Brahman in all things as the mind, etc." Pranayama is the method of breath control. Proper breathing and awareness of the breath is very important. Swami Yogananda says, "Breath is the cord that ties the soul to the body". Your breathing directly affects the mental states. Breathing exercises help to control bodily functions. A regular, deep breath enables one to feel calm and an irregular breath can make you feel anxious. Yoga Breathing helps to re- charge the cells in the body and re- energizes the brain cells; thus, the body is rejuvenated.
- Easy Breathing Exercise
Sit cross-legged as in padmasana. Close the right nostril with the right thumb and inhale very, very slowly through the left nostril. Then with the little and ring fingers of the right hands close the left nostril. Retain breath as long as you can. Then exhale very slowly after removing the thumb. This stage constitutes one process.
Again, inhale through the right nostril, retain the breath and exhale through the left nostril. This ends the process. One can do 20 in the morning and 20 in the evening.
This breathing exercise cleanses the body of diseases.
It steadies the mind and helps in concentration.
It improves digestion.
It increases appetite.
- Abdominal Breathing
Sit erect in a chair with spine, neck and head erect. Keep your eyes closed and rest your hands on the knees. Then exhale slowly, pulling your stomach inwards simultaneously. After full exhalation, hold for a second and then start to inhale slowly and deeply stretching the muscles of the abdomen.
Do not use any force or tension; breathing should be slow, deep, continuous and rhythmical. Again, after inhaling, hold for a second and exhale contracting the abdominal muscles. Repeat the process 10-15 times. Do not get up immediately on finishing this Pranayam.
It activates all the organs of the digestive system.
It cures acidity, indigestion, constipation and gas related problems.
It makes one cool, calm and free of tension.
- Pranayama In Savasana
Take any comfortable position. Relax all the muscles and nerves. Inhale slowly through both the nostrils and retain the breath as long as you can with comfort. Then exhale slowly through both the nostrils.
Repeat the process 10 times in the morning and 10 times in the evening. One can mentally chant ‘Om’ during the practice.
It relieves one of mental tension.
It gives relief, comfort and ease.
It is suitable for old people.
Sit cross-legged and place the feet on the thighs. Now exhale with mouth closed. Exhale from the heart, throat, and the head.
Then, inhale with a hissing sound until it touches the heart. Inhale and exhale with force, repeatedly. This keeps prana in constant circulation in the body. Then, exhale through the right nostril. Repeat this process 15 times and relax
It has a calming influence on the mind.
It strengthens the lungs and improves the respiratory system.
- Relaxation Exercise
Regular practice of yoga slows down the action of the sympathetic nervous system. This means the release of stress hormones is controlled. It improves the functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your ability to relax.
One must learn the art of relaxation. Relaxing all the muscles of the body from head to feet will bring rest to body and mind. Holding tension in any part of the body means dissipation of energy. So, one must practise relaxation.
Take a few deep breaths and lie flat on your back. Relax the muscles of the body. Roll from one side to another. One can relax each part of the body separately. In addition, one must have a mental picture of calmness and strength.