Pranayama is one of the branches of yoga. Besides improving healthy breathing and it is our most vital function on many occasions to which we give less importance.
In India, Yogis thousands of years ago recognized the importance of breathing. So, therefore, developed techniques that today you can benefit from to improve your health.
I explain what Pranayama is and what its benefits are.
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What Is Pranayama?
Pranayama is the science of breathing in the practice of yoga. Also and is the fourth of the 8 branches of Yoga described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjalí.
The Pranayama form a set of exercises and breathing techniques. Also, the main objective is to slow our breathing automatically, increasing thus the level of oxygen in our body. Besides and it is very important also, increasing the removal of metabolic waste carbon dioxide.
Also Read: Ayurveda In India – An Ancient Medicine
Origin of Pranayama
Pranayama is a word that comes from Sanskrit and made up of prana, which means ” vital energy” and Ayama, which means ” extension or expansion.
Therefore the word pranayama means “the extension or expansion of vital energy.
Pranayama practiced for thousands of years. Also, the great Yogis in the Himalayan mountain ranges considered it the secret to keeping your mind calm and in optimal health.
Some writings mention Pranayama techniques as early as the 15th century. Besides one of the best known is “Hatha Yoga Pradipika.”
The Stages Of Pranayama
According to the science of Pranayama, our breathing cycle must consist of 4 steps: inhalation, exhalation, internal and external retention.
For beginners in this practice, the focus should be on breath and air. So once the practitioner is advanced, the focus is on conservation. Also, Retentions are the pure magic of Pranayama practice.
Inhalation Or Pooraka
It should be deep, slow, uniform, and following the patterns of yogic breathing (full breathing).
Internal Breath Retention Or Antar Kumbhaka
After inhaling, we pause the breathing process and retain air in the lungs.
So the main objective is to achieve better oxygen metabolism. However, It can take anywhere from 3 to 15 seconds for beginner practitioners to several minutes for advanced.
Exhalation Or Rechaka
This process responsible for expelling air and metabolic carbon dioxide waste.
So during exhalation, we are purifying the body of impurities. Also, the breath should be deep and last longer than the inhalation (the goal for an advanced practitioner is for the expiration to last twice as long as the inhalation).
External Breath Retention Or Bahir Kumbhaka
After exhaling, we stop the process of breathing and hold with empty lungs (only for advanced Pranayama practitioners ).
Types Of Breathing
There are different types of breathing depending on the body area that we use for this process. So that directly affects the depth of breathing.
Abdominal Or Diaphragmatic Breathing
This is the most common breath applied by itself. So when inhaling, the lower part of the lungs filled with air, and as a consequence, the diaphragm descends, and the abdomen swells.
Thoracic, Costal, Or Intercostal Breathing
It is the breath in which the rib cage expands, and we do not let air pass to the abdominal area. But
breathing capacity and oxygen intake with this technique are less than abdominal breathing and, therefore, less efficient.
It occurs when we fill the upper part of the lungs with air. So this process causes a movement of the clavicle.
I must add that this type of breathing is the least efficient if we apply it by itself and can cause health problems if we abuse it.
Yogic Or Complete Breathing
It is the combination of abdominal, thoracic, and clavicular breathing. This is the breathing that we want to obtain automatically with continued practice of pranayama exercises.
Types Of Pranayama
There are various types of Pranayama with different goals and benefits. Here I indicate the best known when you start this practice, and in the next articles.
I will explain in detail each of these types of Pranayama, what they consist of, and their benefits.
Kapalbhati: In Sanskrit, it means “clean or illuminated skull.” It provides an intensive cleaning of carbon dioxide in the body, improves circulation, digestion, and brings clarity to the mind.
Bhastrika: In Sanskrit, it means “bellows.” It provides us with an intense dose of energy and invigorates the rejuvenation of the mind and body.
Nadi Shodana: In Sanskrit, Nadi means “channel,” and Shodana means “cleanse-purify. This exercise balances the nervous system, synchronizes the two hemispheres of the brain, reduces the heart rate, and purifies our energy channels. It provides a lot of tranquility and well-being.
Ujjai : In Sanskrit, it means “victorious.” It brings relaxation and calms to mind and heart functions. Very good in times of stress.
Bhrameri: In Sanskrit, Bhramar means “bee” and referred to as the “sound of the bee” pranayama. It gives us a strengthening of the immune system and is very relaxing.
Sheetali: In Sanskrit Sheet means “cold” and Sheetal “calm.” It provides us with regulation of body temperature, muscular and mental relaxation as well as generating a feeling of satisfaction.
Benefits Of Practicing Pranayama
- Improves the body’s oxygenation.
- Improves circulation.
- Aids in the regeneration and rejuvenation of body cells.
- Balances the nervous system.
- Calm the mind by reducing anxiety.
- Improves concentration.
- Stimulates well-being and the feeling of peace.
- Heart rate reduction.
- Improves digestion and absorption of nutrients.
- The lungs are strengthened and purified.
- Helps remove toxins from the blood.
- Helps relaxation of muscles and mind.