What is Pranayama

By | April 13, 2016

Pranayama one of the part of Yoga. It is combination of two Sanskrit words Prana and AyamPrana means breath and Ayama means control. This word itself has a deep meaning of controlling or regulation breathing habits.

We usually do not care much about our breathing pattern because we think it is automatic. Yes it is right that our nervous system required oxygen and it makes body to do it automatically and unconsciously. But have you ever thought that by changing our breathing pattern we can gain optimum health and peace of mind?

Pranayama is practiced as a part of different Yogas like Raj Yoga, Hatha Yoga etc. It is said that one can hardly make any spiritual progress without the practice of pranayama. It is also briefly explained in “Rajyoga” book by Swami Vivekananda.

Sitting Position:

While doing Pranayam, sit cross legs with straight back and head. There are two posture defined for doing pranayama:

1. Padmasana

In padmasana we sit with cross legged, feet placing on the opposing thighs. It is not easy for beginner to sit in padmasana comfortably for long.

2. Sukhasana

In sukhasana we sit comfortable with cross legged keeping one under another opposing thighs.

Consider having soft and good quality mat to sit upon for long practice. Do not use too much padded mat.
Padmasana and Sukhasana

Controlling of breath has following three stages:

  1. Inhalation (Puraka): Inhalation or Puraka is the process of breathing in. Inhalation should be done in a way that one can fill lungs with maximum air than normal.
  2. Exhalation (Rechaka):Exhalation or Rechaka is the process of leaving breath outside.
  3. Pause (Kumbhaka): Pausing breath or Kumbhaka is process of ceasing breath inside or outside. There are two types of pauses:
    1. Antar Kumbhaka: When breath is ceased inside.
    2. Bahya Kumbhaka: When breath is ceased outside.

Apart from breathing technique, there are three types of Bandha practiced in prayanayam.

  1. Mool Bandh (मूल बंध):  Shrinking the holes of the anus upward.
  2. Uddyaan Bandh (उड्डियान बंध): Pulling the intestines in the stomach backwards.
  3. Jaalandhar Bandh (जालंधर बंध): Moving head down and touching chin to the gill-follicle.

Types of Pranayam:

There are 50+ types of Pranayam practiced and advised to practice by different yoga teachers. Few popular, more effective and commonly performed Pranayam are:

Benefits of Pranayam

Pranayama prevents and Cures Cancer: It has been a big debate for years now if pranayam can prevent or cures cancer?

Before starting debate here again let we make first one thing clear that there could be countless types of cancers and reasons which cause cancer but one of the most common is lack of oxygen in cells. Dr. Warburg won his first Nobel Prize in 1931 for proving cancer is caused by a lack of oxygen respiration in cells and that gave birth to a variety of successful treatments based on oxygenating the tissues and that is what Pranayam does.

Pranayam for Positivity and Happiness: We all know that even if we had good sleep yesterday night, had great breakfast and got a tight hug from loved one before leaving home but we may not have great mood. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama and Anulom Vilom Pranayama are most common Pranayam used for gaining vital forces within our body. These pranayama circulate maximum oxygen to our blood and then blood carrying the same to brain, heart and other important parts of body which flows a new energy in our body making us happy and positive.

Pranayam Cures Asthma: Regular practice of several pranayama can cure Asthma. Asthma is caused by the tightening of muscles around airways and sudden increment in breathing rate could be extremely harmful. So patient should always take Yoga teacher advice and practice should be done under trainer’s guidence.

Pranayam for Steady Mind

Pranayam for Weight Loss

Precautions While Doing Pranayam

Every beginner should start Pranayam in supervision of Yoga teacher. People with heart related diseases, blood pressure issues, asthma or any other lungs related diseases must take advice of Yoga teacher before starting it. Also while inhaling, we should focus on filling air in lungs and stress should be on our lungs not on stomach. Women should take advice from Yoga teacher for pranayam while pregnancy and menstruation.

We conduct Yoga training which covers Pranayama classes as a large part. Join our classes and get yoga alliance international certification.