The Health Benefits Of Pranayama
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Pranayama is an ancient breath technique that originates from yogic practices in India. It involves controlling your breath in different styles and lengths. Nowadays, pranayama has gained lots of popularity due to its health benefits. In yoga, there is a relationship between breath and prana. So pranayama is a means to elevate the prana shakti or life energies. Yoga helps to improve mind-body coordination and consciousness, while pranayama improves breath control and mental clarity. Five types of prana are responsible for various pranic activities in the body; they are prana, apana, vyan, Udana, and Samana. Out of these, prana and apana are the most important. Pranayama is a combination of systematic exhalation and inhalation.
Pranayama is not a simple breathing process; it is more than exhalation and inhalation. The three simple steps of pranayama include puraka (inhalation), kumbhaka (retention), and recaka (exhalation). Those who practice pranayama regularly will get lots of benefits. There are positive impacts on the respiratory system, circulatory system, digestive system, and endocrine system.
Another important aspect related to pranayama is that it controls the functions of the nervous system and also tones up the kidneys. Kumbhaka, or retention of breath, helps the supply of oxygen or exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, thus facilitating better lung function and helping the brain work more efficiently. Pranayama affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate, glandular secretions, respiration, digestion, and blood pressure. It helps to stop stress, anxiety, and tension. It also eases depression, dullness, and lethargy. Thus, pranayama is good for physical, mental, and spiritual happiness.
Before practicing pranayama, following points you must keep in your mind:
- The important thing is that one should practice pranayama regularly to get the proper benefits.
- Pranayama should be performed under the guidance of a yoga instructor.
- Ensure a proper place, suitable time, mitahara diet, and proper light.
- The place must be well-ventilated from external disturbances. .
- Spring and autumn seasons are the best periods for practicing pranayama. .
- Do at least 15 minutes of pranayama to be fit and healthy. .
- Pranayama should be practiced at a place that is free from dust, pollutants, smoke, and filthy things. .
- The sitting ground should be flat and smooth.
- The suitable time for performing pranayama is early in the morning on an empty stomach. .
- You must ensure that breathing is done thru the nose, and it should be slow and rhythmic. .
- During pranayama, eyes should be closed to control the mind and body.
- Pranayama facilitates better blood circulation in the body when it is done after a bath. .
The five basic types of pranayama include:
- Bhastrika Pranayama
In this pranayama, the body gets the maximum amount of oxygen due to complete inhaling and exhaling.
- Kapalbhati Pranayama
It is effective in curing stomach disorders, obesity, digestive disorder, and many problems related to the stomach.
- Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
This pranayama is also known as Anulom Vilom Pranayama. The regular practice offers an energy boost in the body and releases stress and anxiety. It should be practiced in the morning in the fresh air with an empty stomach.
- Bhramari Pranayama
This type of pranayama is suitable for releasing agitation, frustration, and anger. It is the best breathing exercise for calming your mind.
- Sheetali Pranayama
Sheeta means cooling, which is exactly the effect of this pranayama. It is the best pranayama pose for stress, anxiety, and tension.
How to do: Sit comfortably on flat ground. Take a deep breath through both nostrils and fill the lungs with air and then exhale completely with a hissing sound. Repeat.
How to do it:Sit on a flat floor, folding your legs, keeping your spine straight, and closing your eyes. Keep the right palm on the right knee and the left palm on the left knee. Now take a deep breath, and exhale with all your force so your stomach will go deep inside. Do not stress on inhaling. Inhaling will be done automatically after each exhale.
How to do: Sit comfortably on flat ground. Now close the right nostril with your right thumb and breathe from the left nostril. Then close the left nostril with the middle and ring fingers and breathe out from the right nostril. Now, while closing the left nostril, breathe in deeply with the right nostril, then close the right nostril and breathe out with the left nostril. Do the repetitions.
How to do: Sit comfortably on flat ground. Place your index fingers on the forehead and with the remaining fingers close your eyes. Start inhaling through both the nostril deeply and slowly. By keeping your mouth close, exhale by making a humming sound like “hmmm”. While making a humming sound say ‘Om’ in soft humming sound. Repeat.
How to do: Sit in a comfortable position with the back and head erect, hands on the knees in Jnana mudra, and eyes closed. Make a puckered circle with your mouth then stick out your tongue and curl the edges inwards to form a tube. Inhale slowly and deeply through the tube as if sucking air through a straw to the count of 4. Fill up your abdomen and chest to full capacity. Retain the breath. Straighten your head and exhale through the nostrils until all air is expelled. Repeat.
The five basic types of pranayama are Bhastrika Pranayama, Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, Bhramari Pranayama,and Sheetali Pranayama.
The most significant health benefits of Pranayama according to Ayurveda are:
- Improves Cardiovascular health
Doing Pranayama increases the blood circulation and oxygen capacity of the blood, it helps to improve the cardiovascular function of your body. .
- Reduces risk of Hypertension
It is very effective to reduce stress and tensions which helps in bringing down hypertension.
- Improves Lung function
Another important health benefit of pranayama is that it helps to improve your lungs' functioning properly. It is very useful for people who have breathing problems or asthma.
- Treats Depression
Doing pranayama is the best technique to get mental strength practicing pranayama regularly will help treat depression and anxiety.
- Weight loss
Pranayama not only improves the functions of internal organs but is also effective for external organs. Regular practice of pranayama also helps to reduce your body weight. .
- Removes Toxins
Pranayama is an excellent method to remove all accumulated toxins from your body. .
- Strengthens Immune system
One of the most important health benefits of pranayama is that it helps to strengthen the immune system.
- Cures Digestive problems
Practicing Pranayama daily helps in removing digestive problems and also helps reduce bloating.
- Fight Sinusitis
Pranayama treats sinusitis effectively. Practicing the pranayama technique known as Bhastrika is the best option to treat or prevent sinusitis.
- Clears Nasal passages
Pranayama helps in clearing out the nasal passages and stuffy noses.
- Improves Mental Concentration
Through pranayama, you can regain Mental Concentration. .
- Good for Skin health
To get a good skin complexion,do regular Pranayama. It can remove the blemishes and wrinkles from the skin and provide fresh oxygen, thus giving a good and fair look.
The most significant health benefits of pranayama include improving cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of hypertension, improving lung function, treating depression, removing toxins, strengthening the immune system, relieving digestive problems, fighting sinusitis, clearing nasal passages, improving mental concentration, and being good for skin health.
The Above-mentioned information related to Pranayama is based on various yogic resources. Pranayama should be performed under the guidance of a yoga instructor.