Control Your Life Force
Prana is a Sanskrit word that means life force and Yama means controlling. So, “pranayama” translates to the control of the life force. It is also known as the extension of breath. Every cell in our body needs oxygen to function properly. So, it’s no surprise that research shows that regular practice of controlled breathing can decrease the effects of stress on the body and improve general health.
When practiced daily, Pranayama may be developed to positively affect our autonomic nervous system which controls and governs essential functions of the body such as the heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure.
Here are six classic Pranayama exercises that may be practiced daily, and we will consider the the procedure and benefits of each:
1. ANULOM-VILOM PRANAYAMA - also known as Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing).
Close your eyes and sit in Padmasana. Use the right thumb to close the right nostril. Inhale slowly through the left nostril, taking in as much air as you can to fill your lungs. Remove the thumb from your right nostril and exhale. While exhaling, use the middle finger to close your left nostril and inhale with our right nostril. Remove the thumb from the right nostril and exhale.
Repeat a few times. In my clinical experience of 19 yrs, I have noticed that many patients have reaped multiple benefits from this pranayam.
This Pranayama helps normalise blood pressure, helps in blood purification, reduces risk of heart disease and also improves sight.
2. BHRAMARI PRANAYAMA - derives its name from the Bhramari, the black Indian bee. The exhalation resembles the typical humming sound of a bee.
Close your ears with your thumbs and place your index fingers on the temple. Close eyes with the other three fingers. Gently inhale through the nose and hold for a few seconds. Keeping the mouth closed, exhale by making a humming sound. Repeat a few times
It calms your mind down instantly and is one of the best breathing exercises to de-stress as it clears the mind of frustration, anxiety, anger or agitation. Helps in concentration. I too have clearly experienced the benefit of this pranayam. It helped me improve my powers of concentration.
3. UJJAYI PRANAYAMA - also known as victorious breath or ocean breath. This breathing technique involves a soft hissing sound during inhalation.
Begin by inhaling and exhaling naturally. Bend down leading with your head, blocking the free flow of air and inhale as long as you can, making a sound from your throat. Hold for 2-5 seconds. Close your right nostril with your right thumb while exhaling and breathe out through the left. Repeat a few times.
The sound vibrations that are a part of this pranayama sharpen the focus of your mind and help cure thyroid problems and reduce snoring. More than 80 percent of my patients with complaints of snoring and thyroid issues benefited with regular practice of this Pranayama.
4. KAPALBHATI PRANAYAMA - this strong deep breathing is known as the skull shining breathing technique.
This breathing technique involves passive inhalation and active exhalation. So inhale normally, breathing in as much air as you can, and exhale forcefully. Try and pull your stomach muscles as closely as you can towards the backbone during exhalation. Repeat a few times.
This pranayama can improve the functioning of all abdominal organs, reduce belly fat, help in quick weight loss and balance sugar levels in your body. Recently one of my patients, who had tried all other means for weight reduction, had wonderful results in a short time.
Pranayamas – for physical and mental health
5. BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA - the forceful breathing exercise that clears up your respiratory system and is characterized by sounds like a flame burning below a furnace.
Take a deep breath in, inhaling as much air as you can, and expand your stomach. Exhale the air out with force and try to pull your navel in towards the backbone. Repeat a few times.Benefits:
Perform this breathing technique to strengthen your lungs, burn excess fat, improve physical and mental ability and clear the mucus in the windpipe. In my clinical practice I regularly advise this Pranayama to my patients who suffer from recurrent colds and coughs.
6. SHEETALI PRANAYAMA - also known as Cooling Breath, is a breathing practice that very effectively cools the body, the mind, and the emotions.
Stick your tongue out and roll the lateral edges upward so that your tongue forms a tube. Inhale through the curled tongue, as if breathing through a straw. Then, slowly exhale through the nostrils. Repeat a few times.
Balances excess pitta. Cools the body and clears excess heat. Kindles the digestive fire and promotes optimal digestion. Mitigates hyper acidity in the digestive tract. Calms and soothes the mind, supporting mental tranquillity, reduces blood pressure. This is one of my favorite prescriptions for a summer regimen as it helps cool the body naturally. I also recommend it to patients suffering from hyperacidity as it helps them heal naturally.
NB - like any technical procedure, these practices are best learned from a qualified teacher, and you will reap maximum benefit with regular practice.
Forthcoming Yoga, Meditation, and Pranayama classes
Next month we will start online Yoga, Meditation, and Pranayama classes. For more information just enter “2. Health and Wellbeing appointment (online)” reason on our and write “Yoga, Meditation, and Pranayama classes” in the message and we’ll send you advance details about our online master classes.