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Pranayama is the fourth constitute of yoga in Ashtanga yoga. It is best to practice only after perfecting Asana. In general, the flow of breath is unrestrained and irregular. Refining the mind to control the inflow, outflow, and retention of the breath in the regular, rhythmic patterns is known as pranayama. Pranayama is the regulation and coordination of breathing in and breathing out with retention.
Pranayama is mainly to control breath and to strengthen the connection between body and mind.
The Meaning of Pranayama
Pranayama consists of two words: "prana" and "ayama". Prana is the energy that vibrates in the body as well as in-universe such as heat, light, gravity, power, vitality, life, and spirit are some forms of energy. In yoga, pranayama is drawn in energy so that it maintains and boost up the entire human system, comprising respiratory, circulatory, nervous, excretory, digestive and reproductive system along with them to work them efficiently and in a fixed harmony.
In pranayam inhalation, nasal filters cleaned the breath we take in, and in exhalation sufficient time is given to the system to absorb and draw in energy so that it may mingle with blood. This leads to proper purification and nutrition of blood which is made of chemical properties and hormones. This energy gained from absorption and reabsorption of breath provides one a perfectly healthy body, clarity of mind, and equipoise of spirit.
Types of Pranayama
Regulated inhalation, exhalation, and retention are the first three components of pranayama, and these all three should be performed, prolonged, and refined as per the capacity of the aspirant.
Retention is also of two types, these are the interruption of the breath flow following either the in or out-breath. And this movement of breath and the pause between breath is regulated and stay hold according to the capacity of lungs of an individual, duration, and measured regulation of the breath and degree of refinement and subtlety of the practitioner. Mastery is achieved by practicing in harmony, with rhythmic regulation.
The fourth type goes beyond the regulation and modulation of breath flow and retention , transcending the methodology of the previous method. when the movement of earth functions without one's volitation or effort then it is to consider that the fourth stage has been reached. At this phase movement of consciousness and mind is cease.
Measures of Pranayama
In the context of duration:
- Breath in equal to 12 blinks of the eye.
- Breath out equal to 24 blinks of the eye.
- Retention equal to 48 blinks of the eye.
Based on count:
- Breathe in until the count of 12.
- Breathe out until the count of 24.
- Retention until the count of 48.
Based on the site of concentration of mind:
- Breath in inspiration until Mooladhara Chakra.
- Breath out until the measure of 12 figures from the nostril.
- Retention until you've stabilized the seer power or Prana in Manipura Chakra (near the heart).
Benefits of Pranayama
- Improve respiratory health and overall nutrition level of body constituents.
- Increase concentration and memory power of an individual.
- Helps to improve hypertension by normalizing heart rate and high blood pressure.
- Improves digestive system function- pranayama is performed with belly breathing so it activates the diaphragm (the dome-shaped muscle under the lungs) and it causes the diaphragm to rise and fall and this movement creates a gentle massage for the stomach located below to it.
- Improve immune system as the coordinated movement of oxygenated air in the mucosal lining of respiratory and diaphragmatic movement leads to the stimulation of movement of lymph which forms our major part of our immune system.
- It creates ease and desires healthy eating habits thus lead to weight maintenance or weight loss.
- Strengthens the respiratory system by improving lung health and capacity as it has the nature of exercise to that taking part in it so it is beneficial in asthma and COPD (chronic destructive pulmonary disease) patients.
- Increases GABA which reduces anxious nature and tends to relax the body and mind.
- Reduces chronic stress, mood imbalances, and symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Can help improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia.
- Pranayama is an excellent addition to a sleep meditation practice.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Babu Nath Chouhan on September 08, 2020: