After a stressful day at work, every one of us would love to experience a relaxed meditative state that relieves us from our truckload of tensions and worries. Yoga breathing or Pranayama aims at bringing the involuntary functions of the respiratory mechanism within human control.
'Prana' refers to the universal life force and 'ayama' means to regulate or lengthen. Prana is the vital energy needed by our physical and subtle layers, without which the body would perish. It is what keeps us alive. Pranayama is the control of prana through the breath. These techniques rely on breathing through the nostrils.
Prana flows through thousands of subtle energy channels called 'nadis' and energy centers called 'chakras'. The quantity and quality of prana and the way it flows through the nadis and chakras determines one's state of mind. If the Prana level is high and its flow is continuous, smooth and steady, the mind remains calm, positive and enthusiastic. However, due to lack of knowledge and attention to one's breath, the nadis and chakras in the average person may be partially or fully blocked leading to jerky and broken flow. As a result one experiences increased worries, fear, uncertainty, tensions, conflict and other negative qualities.
The ancient sages of India realised these breathing techniques. Some common pranayamas include Bhastrika, Kapalabhati, and Nadi shodan pranayama.
Regular practice increases and enhances the quantity and quality of prana, clears blocked nadis and chakras, and results in the practitioner feeling energetic, enthusiastic and positive. Practiced correctly under the right supervision prananyama brings harmony between the body, mind and spirit, making one physically, mentally and spiritually strong.
Why do we need fresh oxygen?
- Proper digestion of food
- Invigorating the endocrine glands
- Stimulating the functions of brain, heart, nerves and different other organs.
- Proper distribution of vital force throughout the body.
Warning: Since the Pranayama deals with the subtle force, it is important to practice them as taught in yoga classes. Do not experiment with them.
Times of India
24 Sep 2013