While we rush about our day-to-day activities, we tend to take half-breaths most of the time. This stops the required amount of oxygen from reaching our system. A large amount of oxygen has to be absorbed by the lungs and passed on to the blood stream. The blood then ensures that the oxygen is spread evenly throughout the body as required. Taking deep breaths ensures that the system is functioning correctly. Pranayam helps us in the intake of the necessary quantity of oxygen which is also called the life force or prana.
Pranayam or Pranayama is a breathing technique. It’s a way of handling one’s life breath or prana by regulating one’s breathing. There is a method of inhaling and exhaling that brings about the maximum absorption of oxygen while chucking out all unnecessary things in one’s body including diseases. The ancient method is all about breathing while seated in the correct posture.
What you need to take care of while doing Pranayam:
1. The best time to do Pranayam is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. If there is no time, ensure that there is a gap of at least two to three hours after a meal before you sit down for the breathing exercise.
2. You can sit in Padmasan, Sukasan or in a chair with your legs crossed at the ankles while you are doing this. Sit in the posture most comfortable to you.
3. The flow of breath – both in and out – must be continuous. Never hold your breath midway and break the rhythm.
4. Begin with three minutes of Pranayam and go on to 15 minutes per day.
5. There is nothing like, ‘I have been there, done that’ syndrome while doing any kind of Pranayam. It is like breathing or drinking water and is best done throughout your life.
6. If you do not understand the breathing techniques when you read the instructions, please learn it from a proper teacher as doing it wrongly can adversely affect a person’s health.
There are six types of Pranayam practices. Bhastrika Pranayama, Anulom Vilom Pranayama, Kapal Bhati Pranayama, Bahya Pranayam, Bhramari Pranayama and Udgeeth Pranayama. The simpler ones are the first three. The others are best learnt from a master.
Sit in a comfortable posture with your hands upturned on your knees and close your eyes. Bring your thumbs and forefingers together with the other three fingers pointing straight. Breathe in slowly through both your nostrils and fill in your lungs and abdomen. At this point, you should be able to feel both your chest and stomach expanding. Now breathe out uniformly but with more force then while you were inhaling. The exhalation time (ET) will be less than the inhalation time (IT). This is one cycle. Breathing in and breathing out may be continued for three minutes on Day One and may be increased to as much as 15 minutes gradually.
Tip: Do this as long as five minutes for seven days in a week and your life is made.
Kapal Bhati Pranayama:
Sitting posture is same as above. Inhale air through your nostrils normally and exhale forcefully. The ET should be way shorter than the IT. You can feel the pressure on your abdomen when you exhale. You can do this for three minutes on Day One and up to five minutes over a period of time.
Anulom Vilom Pranayama:
Sit in the same posture as before. Close the right nostril gently with the right thumb. Inhale slowly through the left nostril and fill your lungs and abdomen fully with air. Now, close your left nostril with the middle and ring fingers of the right hand and open the right nostril. Exhale through the right nostril slowly and fully. Now, inhale through the right nostril, close it with your right thumb, open the left nostril and exhale. This is one cycle. Begin with five cycles on Day One and continue till you reach a duration of about five minutes.
Doing the Pranayam on a regular basis builds up a person’s body resistance and also cures a number of ailments. If you are suffering from any kind of chronic illness, it is better to consult your doctor before doing this.
The two nostrils on our nose represent the sun and the moon. The right belongs to the sun while the left to the moon. When you have a headache, close your right nostril with your right thumb and breathe evenly through your left nose – both inhaling and exhaling. After doing this for a few minutes, you will find your headache vanishing.
When you are tired and sleepy in the middle of your work, do the reverse. Cover your left nostril with your index finger and breathe evenly through your right nostril. After a short while, you will feel refreshed and wide awake.