Bhagawad Gita in 6:1 -15 states “Let the practitioner of yoga constantly concentrate his mind on supreme reality, remaining in solitude and alone, self-controlled, free from desired and longings for sense experiences. Having the body positioned in the firm posture, let devote be one-pointed; controlling thoughts and senses, let that one practice pure contemplation in order to attain inward purity.”
We drive this inward purity from meditation and pranayama, a life force that’s the Parashakti or cosmic power. When we breathe, we also take in prana along with the oxygen. The oxygen gets diffused in the lungs and enters the bloodstream, while the prana floats in each cell generating with the new vibes or life.
Generally, prana is influenced by the different breathing patterns which might be suspended after exhalation or inhalation or when there is an interlude of internal pause. There is a rhythmic and harmonizing relation between the left body channel (ida) and the right body called pingala. Pingala is kindled by right nostril breathing promoting heat, masculinity, digestion, and extroversion while left nostril stimulates ida which boosts cold, introspection, femininity, and fertility.
Yogis suggest Kriya Pranayama to neutralize alternative flow of breaths through the cleaning process and directing life forces from the body to the brain. Through Kriya Pranayama, our mental faculty is cleaned and light of soul revealed.
Before you begin your pranayama yogis suggest these practices:
- Lie down on your back by placing your right palm straight on your lower abdomen and your left palm at the top of the chest.
- Exhale and release the air from your abdomen and chest.
- Inhale and feel your abdomen is filled with air and arisen above the chest up to the clavicle.
- Take a pause till you have inhaled as per your capacity and then inhale further.
- Exhale with the chest lowered. Air is released from the body and the abdomen will be emptied or contracted.
- Continue it for five cycles and once you have been able to achieve smooth rhythm, move on to pranayama exercises.
- Sit comfortably by keeping your back and neck straight
- Bring both your hands behind your shoulders with palms facing outward and away from each other and elbows pointed upwards.
- Bend your chin slightly and close your eyes. Inhale with the count of 2 and retain the breath with the count of 8. Next, exhale with the count of 4. This process opens the bronchioles of the lungs, expand the chest and increase the inflow of prana. This exercise is optional which can be done before practicing pranayama.
- Sit comfortably well after exhalation. Drop your chin to the level of the chest.
- Avoid placing any strain on the neck muscles but bring the chest to meet the chin in case there is a strain.
- Keep the muscles and throat relaxed.
- Retain the breath with the count of 2, come back into the normal posture and breathe. This exercise is practiced along with the pranayama to increase its benefits.
- The posture will compress the sinus receptors, which slows the heart rate and soothes the mind. It also regulates the flow of blood to the head, endocrine glands and heart. Besides swimming can also be done to complement the deep rhythmic breathing which is required in pranayama.
- You should also clear the nasal passage with warm salted water before pranayama.
Few Best Pranayama Techniques
Bhramari Pranayama: In this Pranayama technique we get the breathing sound like humming bee. By doing pranayama regularly the tone gets melodious, and soft, you are also free from stress and tension and from all kinds of throat diseases.
The procedure is very simple. Close your ears with thumbs, index fingers over the temple and close your eyes. Inhale through your nose and retain the breathing for few seconds. Close your mouth and slowly exhale by making a humming sound.
Kapalbhati Pranayama: In Pranayama you breathe out with force, involving slow inhalation and fast exhalation. When you exhale, the stomach muscles moves violently, pressing it closer to your back. Repeat this step for 2-5 minutes.
Kapalbhati balances the sugar level in the body, reduces fat, improve blood circulation and functioning of the abdominal organs like stomach, liver, pancreas and kidney.
Ujjayi Pranayama: This pranayama involves soft hissing sound. Inhale normally and exhale completely. Bend your head down, block the free flow of air and inhale. Hold it for 2 to 5 seconds. When you exhale, close your right nostril with right thumb and breathe out through left nostril. Repeat it ten times.
This pranayama technique builds your body heat, soothes your mind by making you more focused, clears the sound pipe and reduce snoring.
Bhastrika Pranayama: In this Pranayama technique breathing through nose appears like the flame. Take a deep breath with stomach expanded, while the air is exhaled with force, and suck your navel towards the backbone. While inhaling, your stomach should be expanded to the maximum. Perform this pranayama for 1-2 minutes.
This Pranayama technique strengthens your lungs, cures asthma, burns the excess fat, and increase the physical and mental ability.
This pranayama is performed by taking a deep breath but without making any sound. Close the index and the middle finger of your right hand. Close your right nostril with your thumb and exhale through the left nostril. When exhaled, inhale through the same nostril. Retain your breath for 2 seconds, and repeat the same on the other side. This process is done for 2-5 minutes.
This pranayama increases the memory, assists in the blood purification process and blocks the carbon dioxide from entering into arteries retaining the blood pressure, and helps in improving your eyesight.
Pranayama is a magical path ready to be discovered. If we search it conscientiously, we can discover our true self that’s hidden deeply behind the vagaries of our life, ready to immerse and make all our wishes comes true.