To live, we have to breathe. Air is the most important part of life on this whole universe. Prana is the fundamental force and bio-energy responsible for the life. Pranayama is one of the major aspects of Yoga. It is derived from the words Prana and Yama. Yama word indicates the control and thus Pranayama is the method of controlling and balancing the Prana or breathing through some specific techniques.
Pranayama consist of Puraka (inhalation), Kumbhaka (retention) and Rechaka (exhalation). It is important to perform all the three processes in proper way. Inhalation fills the lungs with oxygenated air, then Kumbhaka helps in raising the temperature of internal air as well as good absorption of oxygen. In the last process, during exhalation deoxygenated air is expelled out. While performing Pranayama, sitting in Jnana mudra aasana is considered as important. In this Mudra, the index fingers are folded in such a way that they touch the top of their respective thumbs.
Figure 1 –Benefits of Pranayama
Some Pranayama exercises:-
- Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Person should sit erect and comfortably. Both eyes should be closed and left hand should be kept in Jnana Mudra. After closing the right nostril with the right thumb, person should inhale slowly through the left nostril till count of 5. After the inhalation, both nostrils should be closed to retain the air in the lungs for another count of 5. Then proceed further by pressing the left nostril with the ring finger of the same hand and close the left nostril. Then remove the thumb from the right nostril, exhale slowly for a count of 5. After complete exhalation, repeat the process by switching the sides.
Figure 2 – Benefits of Nadi Shodana Pranayama
Person should sit comfortably in Jnana mudra. Inhalation should be done through both the nostrils and then exhale the air by contracting the middle and lower abdomen portions. Exhalation should be done quickly and by little force. Inhalation should be passive.
It helps in cleaning the capillaries of all the parts of the body. Purifies the frontal portion of the brain and cleans the nasal passages. It is very beneficial in diseases like asthma, diabetes, bronchitis, nervous disorders etc.
Bhramari (Humming Bee Breath)
Person should sit comfortably and erect. Gently plug the ears with the respective index fingers and close the eyes. Then inhale slowly and deeply through the nose. The he should take a deep breath and exhale slowly through his nose making a loud humming sound and focusing his attention on the areas between the eyebrows by keeping his eyes closed
Feel the sound and vibrations produced during this breathing technique. It helps in clearing voice, throat and nasal passage. Several studies reveal that humming acts as a sonic cleanser. It stimulates vaso-dilation and increases the air conditioning, cilliary movement thus facilitating the better drainage of the nose and para-nasal sinuses. It also produces positive impact on the mind.
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2. Sri Ananda, The Complete Book of Yoga, Harmony of Body & Mind, (1985), New Delhi: Orient Paperbacks.
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4. Swami Shankardevananda, The Effects of Yoga on Hypertension, Bihar School of Yog.