Introduction To Pranayama

Pranayama is the technique of breath control. In introduction to pranayama, you can learn more about this technique of bringing vital life force (prana = life) under control. The literal translation of pranayama can be 'restriction' or 'control' or breath. It basically has three phases - puraka or intake of breath, kumbhaka or retention of breath and rechaka or discharge of breath. Various forms of pranayama let you practice all these three phases.

There are several explanations for pranayama. All these explanations are positive. Pranayama is one of the principles of yoga. Breath control or pranayama is a part of several asanas. You are required to control inhalation and exhalation while performing various asanas. This has several benefits. Breath control helps you maximize the benefits of the poses. It also helps you concentrate. It also prepares you for meditation.

The most important pranayama practices are Naadi sodhana, Ujjayi and Deergha pranayama. They are performed as preparation for meditation, to calm the mind down and improve focus. You can practice them almost anywhere and any time. With some practice, you will know what to expect from pranayama. The exact methods are different for the three kinds of pranayama. Your breathing should be smooth, continuous and easy. You should not try too hard. Stop it before you get an uncomfortable feeling in any part of your body.

When designing yoga for beginners, instructors take extra care to include pranayama. Practicing it early can calm your mind, improve breathing and expel accumulated toxic materials from blood. While you practice yoga poses by difficulty, breathing becomes as important as the poses themselves. The connection between pranayama and yoga are always among frequently asked questions.

In yogic parlance, pranayama has spiritual meanings. It is an important part of meditation. In fact, meditation starts with the practitioner concentrating on his/her breathing process. This develops into growing self awareness. As the self-awareness grows; the practitioner experiences a union of self with the center or universe. By controlling breathing, you can control prana. By controlling prana, you can control the whole universe. That is the hierarchy.

The Physical & Mental Benefits Of Pranayama Or Yogic Breathing

You normally won't think about the breathing process. During normal breathing, only a small capacity of lungs is used. By just concentrating on your breathing, you can improve your breathing. With yogic breathing, you can utilize the capacity of the lungs.

You breathe slowly and deeply. This increases availability of oxygen to the blood. It also helps body expel toxic wastes accumulated in different parts of the body. It normalizes blood pressure and relieves stress.

It improves concentration. You mind learns to relax quickly. You will be relatively free from negative emotions like anxiety, fear and anger. It also develops a sense of self control, better understanding your physical & mental beings and helps you understand others.

Although pranayama appears to be a simple process, it shall not be forced. Forcing it can even cause mental breakdowns. There are a set of procedures to practice pranayama and meditation. Both have to be practiced under a trained instructor.

If you practice pranayama the right way, it can help you get a healthier and peaceful life.