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Pranayama – 8 Effective techniques for beginners
Pranayama – 8 Effective techniques for beginners

Pranayama – 8 Effective techniques for beginners

Yoga, a modern practice that rooted in Indian texts and traditions for over 5000 years ago, is gaining popularity internationally. Patanjali, the father of the Yoga philosophy does not give any particular directions about pranayama, but later on other yogis found out various things about this Pranayama and made it a great science. Patanjali has only mentioned that ‘simply throw the air out and draw it in and hold it for some time, that is all. By doing this the mind will become calmer’ in his Yoga Sutra. In this article I have mentioned what exactly Pranayama isits typesbenefits and how you can practice at home and gain profit from this particular old science.

WHAT IS PRANAYAMA?

Brain during pranayama

Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are the 8 limbs of yoga according to Patanjali. These limbs are basically like ladders which help you reach the ultimate goal of your life. Nowadays people get bonded to only one thing which is Asana and they feel that yoga is all about Asana but it’s not true as it is only one of the keys of yoga.

Pranayama is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Prana’Prana doesn’t exactly mean breath, though it is usually translated by many people for easy understanding but it doesn’t actually mean breath. Prana is the sum total of the cosmic energy. Whatever you see in the universe, whatever moves or has life is a manifestation of this PranaPrana is the life force or vital forces. A vital spark which is identified as being you and me, that essence which you can’t quite put your finger on or describe but you can feel its presence and that is Prana“Yama” means extension. It is believed that ancient people used to practice only Pranayama for the extension of their life.

Meditation

The motion of breath is also caused by Prana and through Pranayama we seek to control this motion. By doing Pranayama you are not only restraining your breath but you are also enhancing the life force energy within you. We begin to control our breath as it is the easiest way of controlling Prana.

There are 4 sorts of motion in this Pranayama –

  1. When we draw the breath in
  2. When we throw it out.
  3. When the breath is held in the lungs
  4. Restraining the breath

HOW DOES PRANAYAMA INCREASES CONCENTRATION?

It is believed that Chitta (Knowledge / Mind) is made up of Sattva particles (spiritually subtle pure component) and usually Rajas and tamas particles (spiritually subtle impure component) keep forming layers around Sattva particles which leads to decrease in concentration and other mental problems. So, when you practice Pranayama daily it helps in removing those layers around Chitta formed by Rajas and Tamas particles. In this way Pranayama increases concentration.

BENEFITS OF PRANAYAMA

Deep meditation
  1. Nowadays majority of people are actually taking shallow breath which means they are using very less of their lung capacity. When you practice Pranayama daily initially you are expanding your lungs due to the expansion you are allowing lungs to take more oxygen.This results in more oxygenated blood for the body and I guess I don’t need to explain how important oxygen is for each part of our body.
  2. With the help Pranayama people are curing so many diseases like cancer, mentalhealth disorders like depression and anxiety, heart problems, Asthma, nervous system related problems and many more.
  3. Mind and body are aligned with each other. You might have observed when you are sad or angry your breath becomes either shallow or very fast. When you are relaxed especially when you are asleep your breath expands, your duration increases, it’s very slow, deep and calm. Your mind has a connection with your breath. With the help of pranayama, you can control your breath and mind. It also helps to withdraw your senses from the external object.
  4. Pranayama increases patience and concentration
  5. You can gain profit through pranayama only when you practice it daily. You gain profit in a step wise manner first you achieve physical benefit, then mental benefit and then spiritual benefit is achieved. Consistency is very important in Pranayama.

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as a mean to take hold of your mind again”

TYPES OF PRANAYAMA

I am not sure if there is a correct number of Pranayama’s known. As I have a belief that we would have lost the knowledge of several Pranayama techniques over ages, though a few common Pranayama techniques are taught by several gurus.

Almost 800 years ago a sage named Swami Swatmarama Suri wrote a text named Hatha Yoga Pradipika. This text had mentioned 8 types of classical Pranayama. Swami swatmarama commonly used the word ‘Kumbhaka’ instead of Pranayama. Kumbhaka means only Restraining the breath.

These 8 types of Pranayama mentioned in Hatha Yoga are commonly practiced by the people. I have mentioned below which are those and how you can practice those at home. Each technique of pranayama has many variations. I have mentioned the one suitable for the beginners.

IDEAL TIME FOR DOING PRANAYAMA

  1. Early morning on empty stomach
  2. If you had meal then after 3-4 hours you can practice pranayama
  3. If you had tea or coffee then after 45 minutes you can practice pranayama
  4. If you had water then after 15 minutes you can practice pranayama

PRANAYAMA TECHNIQUES

  1. SURYA BHEDNA PRANAYAMA

Surya Bhedna Pranayama is one of the main pranayama. Surya means sun. In our body the right nostril channel represents the sun (A) also known as Surya Nadi or Pingala Nadi. It is related to Prana, the bodily function and its energizing by creating heat. The left nostril channel represents the moon (THA)Chandra Nadi which is cooling and it is associated with mind. When you bring A and THA, together its ATHAThe process of this is to bring about the union and to integrate both so that you can live in peace and harmony.

Surya bhedna pranayama
Surya bhedna pranayama 2


DIRECTIONS :

  1. Move your one hand in a mudra such that your index and middle finger is bend. If you feel uncomfortable you can even keep those fingers on your forehead.
  2. Now keep your back straight and close your eyes.
  3. If you are using your right hand than with the help of your ring finger close the left nostril.
  4. Now take a deep breath through your right nostril.
  5. Fill the air in the abdomen, chest and neck region.
  6. Moving your ring finger away slowly exhale from your left nostril.
  7. In Surya Bhedna, inhalation should only be done from the right nostril and exhalation from the left.
  8. You can repeat this for 5 minutes.
  9. Try inhaling through 4 counts and exhaling for 6-8 counts. If you can exhale longer, then better.

BENEFITS :

  • Migraine
  • Mental problems
  • Asthma
  • Cold
  • Gastric problems
  • Increases concentration

2. SHEETKARI PRANAYAMA

Whenever we breathe through our nostril, we can’t discriminate whether the air is hot or cold. But when we try to breathe through our mouth, we can discriminate whether the air is hot or cold. Sheetkari pranayama or the hissing sound breathing, cools down the body temperature. This is very useful in summer when several people experiences restlessness due to heat. Practicing this pranayama not only cools down the body’s core temperature but also the mind, thus making one feel serene, peaceful and calm in the moment. It has great energizing, soothing, relaxing and cooling effects on the whole body.

Sheetkari pranayama

DIRECTIONS :

  1. Keep your back straight and close your eyes.
  2. Clench your teeth and keep your lips apart.
  3. Now breathe slowly only through your mouth making a hissing sound with your teeth.
  4. Fill the air in your abdomen, chest and neck region.
  5. Now seal your lips and bend the neck forward to do the chin lock also known as Jalandhara Bandha.
  6. Hold the breath for few seconds or minute whatever feels comfartable to you.
  7. Now raise your head and unlock the chin.
  8. Exhale slowly through your nose.
  9. This was one round of Sheetkari.
  10. Now practice it for 5 minutes.

BENEFITS :

  • Steaming acidity
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Aggression
  • Anger
  • Stress
  • Cools down the Nervous System

 3. SHITALI PRANAYAMA

‘Shitali’ word is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Sheetal’ which means cooling. It also means calm and passionate. As the name indicates this pranayama cools the mind – body system. It is designed to reduce the body temperature. Practicing this pranayama brings harmony in the body system and calms the mind.

DIRECTIONS :

  1. Keep your back straight.
  2. Sit in any comfortable position.
  3. Close your eyes and keep your hands on your knees.
  4. Now roll your tongue and shape it in the form of a tube.
  5. Inhale through your tongue, maximum you can.
  6. Now take your tongue inside and seal your lips.
  7. Some people are unable to roll their tongue due to genetic reasons. They can just press their tongue behind their lower teeth and now take deep breath with your mouth open just like sucking water from a straw. Allow the cool air to draw into your body .
  8. Fill the air in your abdomen chest and neck region.
  9. Now seal your lips and bend the neck forward to do the chin lock also known as Jalandhara Bandha.
  10. Hold the breath for few seconds or minutes.
  11. Now raise your head and unlock the chin.
  12. Exhale slowly through your nose.
  13. This was one round of Sheetali.
  14. Now practice it for 5 minutes.

BENEFITS :

  • Purifies the blood.
  • Cooling effect on body and mind
  • Gulma (chronic dyspepsia)
  • Spleen related problems
  • Beneficial for skin and eyes
  • Polydipsia (excessive thirst)
  • Polyphagia (excessive hunger)

4. BHRAMARI PRANAYAMA

Bhramari pranayama was named after a black Indian bee Bhramari. Because when you perform the exhalation it makes a humming sound like a bee. This pranayama gives you instant relief from frustration, agitation, stress, etc. and also calms your mind. It helps sooth the nervous system and helps to connect us with your inner self.

Bhramari pranayama

DIRECTIONS :

  1. Keep your back straight.
  2. Sit in any comfortable position.
  3. Place your three fingers on your eyes, index finger on your forehead and thumb closing your ear.
  4. Now take a deep breath through your nose with your lips sealed.
  5. And then exhale slowly through your nose making a humming sound like a bee with your mouth.
  6. Try to make your exhalation for a longer duration.
  7. Continue this process for 5 minutes.

BENEFITS :

  • Relief from headache.
  • Reduces blood pressure.
  • Improves concentration and memory
  • Helps mitigate migraine

5. BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA

Bhastrika pranayama has a lot of similarity with the Kapal Bharti Pranayama. But both these are two different techniques. As a beginner you can’t practice this pranayama alone. You require a lot of guidance in the beginning for practicing this pranayama. So, I would suggest you to practice this pranayama under the guidance of a guru. Hence, I haven’t mentioned the directions of this pranayama in this article.

BENEFITS :

  • Highly suggested for diabetic patients
  • Improves digestion
  • Cough, congestion
  • Helpful for swimmers, dancers, athletics
  • Weight loss
  • Helpful meditation

6. MURCHA PRANAYAMA

Murcha means ‘fainting’ in Sanskrit. Murcha pranayama is often translated as ‘swooning breath or fainting breath’. The aim of this pranayama is bringing energy into your third-eye chakra and connecting with your intuition. While practicing Murcha Pranayama it makes the mind devoid of senses at that time and gives the feeling of lightheadedness to the person. It swoons the mind and provides comfort.

Murcha pranayama

DIRECTIONS

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Make sure your back, neck and head are aligned in one straight line and focus at the center of your eyebrows.
  3. Close your eyes and place your hands on your knees
  4. Now inhale slowly and take a deep breath through your nostrils. Then open your mouth and exhale loudly. Continue taking deep breath through your nose with mouth closed and then open your mouth and release your breath loudly through your mouth.
  5. – OR –
  6. Tilt your head upwards facing towards the roof and then take a slow deep breath through your nostril. Then bring back your head facing front and exhale slowly through your nose with your mouth closed.
  7. Carry out any one of the practices whichever you are comfortable with for 5 minutes.
  8. After doing Murcha Pranayama meditate for some time. Breathe normally and concentrate at the center of your eyebrows.

BENEFITS :

  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Increases concentration
  • Increases stamina
  • Mental peace and mental strength
  • Glowing skin
  • Clears mind, thoughts and gives you inner peace

7. UJJAYI PRANAYAMA

Ujjayi means ‘to be victorious’ or ‘to conquer’ in Sanskrit. It is also often referred to as “Victorious Breath”. Because of the sound it makes when performed correctly. This breath is also sometimes known as“Ocean Breath” or “Hissing Breath”Ujjayi Pranayama is particularly beneficial for calming the mind. It is known to be beneficial for those suffering from stress, insomnia, and mental tension.

DIRECTIONS :

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Make sure your back, neck and head are aligned in one straight line and focus at the center of your eyebrows.
  3. Close your eyes and place your hands on your knees.
  4. OCEAN SOUND – Imagine a glass in front of you and you have to fog it with your breath. Generally, people will make a ‘haaaa’ sound with their mouth. Now you have to do the same thing but with your mouth closed. Doing this causes a small constriction to your throat and it almost sounds like a soft sound of ocean.
  5. So first take a deep breath through your nostrils with mouth closed.
  6. Bend the neck forward to do the chin lock also known as Jalandhara Bandha.
  7. Try to hold the breath for few minutes or seconds.
  8. Now raise your head and unlock the chin.
  9. Exhale out through your nose making an ocean sound with your mouth closed.

BENEFITS :

  • Highly recommended for Asthma and thyroid patients
  • Helps improve lung capacity
  • Helpful in all respiratory disorders

8. PALVINI PRANAYAMA

There are more than 38 variations of Palvini Pranayama. Palvini pranayama is derived from the sanskrit word Palvini which means floating. While performing this technique you can experience the feeling of floating on a river or any water body. In Plavani pranayama you actually drink air like water and fill your stomach with it, which results in the stomach getting inflated. The abdomen produces a peculiar sound on mild tapping.

Palvini pranayama

DIRECTIONS :

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Make sure your back, neck and head are aligned in one straight line and focus at the center of your eyebrows.
  3. Close your eyes and place your hands on your knees.
  4. Relax your shoulder and abdomen muscles
  5. Now take a deep breath through your nostrils and let the air fill your lungs, neck and especially the abdomen region.
  6. Bend the neck forward to do the chin lock also known as Jalandhara Bandha.
  7. Hold the breath for few minutes.
  8. Now raise your head and unlock the chin.
  9. Exhale slowly through your nose.
  10. This was one round of Palvini Pranayama
  11. Repeat it for 5 times

BENEFITS :

  • Improves blood flow
  • Helpful for swimmers and athletics
  • Cleanses breathing
  • Relaxes brain cells
  • Improves digestion
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss

In yoga you first need to learn how to control your mind, senses and body with the help of Yama and Niyama. And then you go to Asana. After Asana, its Pranayama. Like I explained you earlier about Pranayama it helps in enhancing the life forces. It helps in cleaning your Pranic body which means surrounding your auric body.

The ultimate goal of life or yoga is Samadhi. To reach Samadhi no matter how many Asanas you do you can’t reach to Samadhi until and unless you have a control over your mind, breath and have a healthy auric body. And this is achieved only through Pranayama. When you achieve this, the next door opens automatically.

For practicing meditation or pranayama you should have a healthy body.10 food habits to include in your daily life

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Author : Easminara shaikh

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