Demystifying Pranayama: A breath revolution

Baba Ramdev explaining 5 pranayamas (breathing exercises) which every individual should practice.

There is of course no equivalent word in English which defines the word “Pranayama” in complete sense. However we can describe it as control of the vital forces. The word “Prana” means Life Energy and “Yama” means control. Prana has 10 different manifestations in human body. But for the sake of understanding let us bring it down to 5. These 5 are referred as “Pancha Vaayus”.

These are:

  • Prana Vaayu
  • Samana Vaayu
  • Udhama Vaayu
  • Apaana Vaayu
  • Vaana Vaayu

These Pancha Vaayus are incharge of different dimensions of what happens in human mechanism. The word “pranayama” in true sense is a method to take charge of these 5 “Pancha Vaayus”. The way our body and mind functions is determined by these energies. It is an intelligent energy in a way it carries a certain amount of memory. The cosmic memory of an individual is imprinted on this energy. So in each individual the prana functions in a different manner. It is indeed unique in each individual.

If somebody takes charge of their prana, irrespective of the external atmosphere, influence due to reverberations, waves or emotions; psychological balance is cent percent guaranteed. If your psychological balance is in an extremely good state 10% of your physical problems are not even problems. Most of the times all little thoughts embracing your mind are not big things, but what reactions your mind reverberates suddenly becomes a big thing.

One of the most precious gifts in today’s world that the tradition of yoga has bestowed mankind is the science of pranayama. It is not just breath; it is subtle. Different pranayamas are devised by Maharashi Patanjali – the father of Yoga and Pranayama. which are incharge of different dimensions of human life. However to keep it simple there are 5 pranayamas which can be practiced by each individual on a daily basis.

  1. Bhastrika – In this pranayama we take a deep breath and release it with a sense of joy and happiness. Patiently drawing a deep breath up to the diaphragm and make sure not in the stomach. There is no part in the stomach which can absorb oxygen with a feeling of purity, divinity, power and  cosmic energy. We are inhaling deeply and exhaling. The pressure during inhalation and exhalation should be the same. Inhale deeply and exhale with full force.

Benefits:

  • The heat produced by the rapid movement of abdominal organs in bellows breath increases the digestive capacity, which is directly interlinked with navel chakra.
  • As inhale and exhale both in this breathing is active, it clears accumulated toxins and hence energy pathways (nadis) got purified.
  • Rhythmic exhalation & inhalation of bellows breath create compression and decompression on the brain. It has a similar effect as someone is massaging your head.
  • Helps in balancing out the three doshas i.e. Vatta, Pitta and Kapha.
  • Rapid breath of bellows strengthen the lungs.

2. Kapalbhati – Unlike Bhastrika pranayama where we are inhaling and exhaling In this pranayama we only exhale. While exhaling the stomach muscles are contracted and impure breath is expelled from the body. The stomach will automatically go inside same as when we blow our nose. Push the breath out of your body with full force, strength and might and relax. Initially we can start it by doing 30 times. After relaxing we can start Kapalbhati pranayama again. Kapaal is the forehead and bhaati means glow. By doing this pranayama one can experience a glow that is extremely beautiful. This mighty pranayama is very useful in increasing the facial glow of the person.

Benefits:

  • Massaging effect help to calm and relax your mind for more extended periods and in adverse conditions.
  • Kapalabhati pranayama is a cleansing technique of the Respiratory System of the body. It strengthens the lungs and increases its air intake capacity.
  • Regular & consistent practice of kapalbhati increases the circulation of oxygen-rich blood in the body. This blood helps to cure acne, wrinkles, dark circles, and other skin disorders completely.
  • Kapalbhati is great for focus and checks forgetfulness.
  • “Kapalbhati has spiritual paybacks as well. It activates the chakras in the body and helps in achieving a higher, greater awakening,” shared Anju.
  • Kapalbhati is one solution for different abdominal problems like acidity, gas, and indigestion. 

3. Baahya – This pranayama should be performed 3 times after Kapalbhati. Inhale deeply to the maximum and then exhale. There will be three bandhs. Put your chin close to your throat. Suck in your stomach to touch the back. Pull the part of the abdomen below your navel upwards.We will hold our breath after exhaling. Then apply the three bandhs. After Jalandar bandh we inhale then release the three bandhs. Then we will exhale and again employ the three bandhs.

Benefits:

  • Helpful in all abdominal complaints (like Constipation, Acidity, Gastric problem, Hernia) and cure it completely.
  • It cures the reproductive organs related complaints.
  • Improves the concentration of the mind.
  • Improves the digestion.
  • Beneficial for diabetes patients.
  • Completely cures the urinary and sperm-related problems.
  • Very helpful to achieve the tranquility and self-enlightenment.

4. Anuloma Viloma – In this pranayama we lift your right hand and close the right nostril and inhale slowly through the left nostril. Inhalation is now complete. Now close the left nostril with the middle and the little finger and exhale through the right nostril. Now inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left. Let this go on for 5 mins. Inhale completely through your lungs. Do not inhale through your stomach.

Benefits:

  • Anulom Vilom Pranayama cleans the pranic channels and makes the prana flow freely in the entire body. The nadis or the pranic energy channels are purified. Hence this pranayama is also called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.
  • Purification of the energy channels ensures proper supply of pranic energy to all the organs enhancing the overall health of the body.
  • Anulom Vilom Pranyama balances the two main energy channels – Ida and Pingala. It balances the two hemispheres of the brain, bringing about peace and tranquility.
  • When the Ida and Pingala nadis are balanced, it awakens the central channel called Sushumna Nadi.
  • It removes toxins from the body.
  • Prolonged practice of Anulom Vilom Pranayama leads to next stage of yoga, which is Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses. This enables the practitioner to progress towards higher practices of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

5. Bhraamari – In this pranayama we close our ears with our thumbs. The part of the ear that is raised upwards we will close our ears by folding that part onto it. Once closed the index fingers will rest on our forehead. The rest of the three fingers should be together. Put the first finger in the foundation of the eyes and nostril.

Benefits:

  • It relieves tension, anger and anxiety.
  • Effective against hypertension.
  • Cures sinus problem.
  • Bhraamari Pranayama controls the high blood pressure and cures it.
  • Helps to stay calm and brings stability to mind.
  • Cures the problem related to nervous system.
  • During pregnancy it is very helpful for pregnant women for easy and trouble free.

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