We talked about the definition of Pranayama and Pran-sakthi in the previous article In this article, we will talk about the types of Pranayama, the procedure to practice Pranayama and of course, the benefits.
Pranayama is a scientific method of breathing. Take deep and long breaths through the nose. Before starting Pranayama, one should take 5 to 6 long and deep breaths through nose in order to relax the material body.
Exhalation or (Rechaka)
While exhaling, the abdominal muscles help to evacuate the lungs by raising the diaphragm. Greater volume of fresh air should enter the lungs. Unless we first breathe out fully, it is impossible to breath in correctly.
Having emptied the lungs, the next step is to fill them up to the maximum possible extent. The total volume of air which the lungs are able to contain is known as the vital capacity, which is about six liters. Before one can contemplate to increase this capacity, full use must be made of what is already available. Scientific breathing enables the practitioner to do this.
Adequate supply of oxygen is essential for the proper functioning and vitality of the cells. It is therefore, vitally important to breath correctly so that every cell can receive oxygen.
Holding breath, systematically, both before inhalation and exhalation is called Kumbhaka. Before exhaling, holding the breath for few seconds is known as Antara Kumbhaka and before inhaling, holding the breath for few seconds is knows as Bahaya Kumbhaka.
The practice of breath hold out in midst of Pranayama enables the increase of heat in the body and thereby longevity. It also enables increase of concentration beside physical and mental power. Kumbhaka should not be practiced by those below 15-16 years of age and those suffering from hypertension, heart diseases, asthma and ulcer.
- Naadi Shudhi-purification of subtle perception paths
- Sit erect in Padmasana or any other meditative posture exhaling completely.
- Right hand’s thumb must be lightly placed on the right nostril. Take long, deep and steady breaths from the left nostril. Feel that breath is passing into you.
- Now place the right hand ring finger on left nostril. Lift up the right thumb from right nostril and empty out the breath. Make a round, intake from left and breathe out from the right nostril.
- Inhalation and exhalation should be of same duration. Combine Kumbhaka with this in the ratio of 1:4:2. If you inhale in four seconds, retain the breath for 16 seconds and then exhale in 8 seconds. The above can always be improved with more and more practice.
- Initially, 5 to 9 rounds is recommended, but after more practice, one can go upto 20 to 25 rounds daily.
- Early morning and late evenings are good time for the above practice.
The benefits of above practice may be seen in 4 to 6 months time. This leads to purification of Nadi’s. There are supposed to be 7.2 million nadi’s in the body. This is very beneficial before sitting in meditation as it helps to improve concentration. It also lightens the body, improves brightness of eyes, and digestion system. It helps to reduce hypertension and anxieties.
In Sanskrit, Bhastrika means bellows. Just as a blacksmith blows his bellows rapidly, the same way one has to blow the breaths.
Sit in a calm meditative posture with straight backbone. Inhale breath with force and speed from both nostrils. The stomach and chest will balloon up and shrink fast too. Practice this for ten times. Inhale deep, retain the breath, as long as comfortable and exhale. This will complete one round. One can easily go unto ten rounds. Take 2-3 deep breaths after each round to avoid tiredness. This type of Pranayama leads to high speed circulation of blood with increased heat. The further progress on rounds should strictly be done according to one’s own capacity and comfort levels. Patients of hypertension and heart should not practice this.
The benefits are plenty. Inflammatory diseases of the nose and chest, asthma, gas wind etc. can be cured or prevented. It creates extra strength in the body. If combined with Kumbhaka, it regenerates vital energy of the body. It also purifies the nervous system.
Sitali (Beak tongue pranayama)
Fold the tongue like a tube lengthwise and push it out of mouth. Inhale, through the tongue with a hissing, Siiiiiiiiii, sound. Both the cheeks swollen like balloon with breath retained as long as comfortable. In order to help hold breath, one may lower chin so as to touch throat. Lift up the chins, and release breath slowly through nostrils. The remaining breath may be vented out through mouth. Practice this for six times. This can be done even while standing.
Sadant (Breath through teeth Pranayama)
Press the upper teeth on the lower ones. Slowly breath in through gaps of teeth’s with a hissing sound like Siiiiiiiiii. While breathing in, feel the coolness of air taken in. Allow the breath to stop automatically. Exhale through both nostrils. Repeat the cycle as much as one can do, comfortably.
Both Sitali and Sadant are cooling pranayama. The cool feelings helps to calm down the mind by removing tension and anxiety. The respiratory system becomes more vigorous. It helps to reduce pyorrhea and hypersensitivity of gums. It is particularly useful during summer season. These Pranayama may not be practiced in extreme winter and humid weather.
Bhramari (Bee sounding pranayama)
Sit in padmasana or any other meditative posture. Breath in long and deep, through both nostrils. Hold breath for some time as according to one’s capacity. Exhale slowly through nostrils, very slowly so as to produce a humming sound like a female bee. Repeat the cycle several time.
There will be vibrations in the entire body including ears and face. With continuous practice, the vibrations spreads like a ring around the body and thereby helps in relaxing body and easing tension. It also helps in improving concentration. It is also known as door step to meditation. In public meditation, the humming sweet sound, generated out of this pranayama from different people sitting around, help increase concentration. It helps reduce anger and fear. Everybody can do this pranayama including BP and heart patients.
Pranayama is a key methodology towards good and balanced health. It is advisable that the starters must do it under guidance until they become perfect.