We have seen in one of the previous articles as to what is Pranayama. The meaning of Prana and that Pranayama is much wider and deeper than we know. However, what it means at a mundane level is to control, regulate and manage your breath or breathing patterns. This process helps control and calm the mind; a calmer mind in turn assists in regulating breathing. So a pattern is set up when we regularly practice Pranayama.
Benefits of Pranayama:
Pranayama has many benefits at both physiological and psychological levels. It improves functioning of all major internal organs. It aids the rhythmic expansion of the lungs and greatly improves oxygen intake. The circulatory systems improve greatly. In addition, it helps eliminate many diseases and also strengthens immunity. Pranayama helps quieten the mind and senses. This assists in reduction of desires and brings a feeling of bliss. It helps drive away fear from the mind and improves the functioning of the brain in all respects. The list is practically endless of the benefits of Pranayama. This is the reason why it has become very popular these days.
Types Of Pranayama:
There are many types and methods of Pranayama. Most of these are to be practiced only under supervision or after practicing asanas for at least a year. This is because breathing is a subtle yet high impact process. A lot of damage can occur to the mind and body if done incorrectly. Most of the Pranayamas are advanced in nature but many have been simplified by gurus and acknowledged Yogis like Madhavdasji, Shri Yogendra, Swami Kuvalyananda, Swami Sivananda, Shri Krishnamacharya, Shri Iyengar and many others.
4 Main Types of Pranayama:
-Puraka; inhalation -Kumbhaka; retention after inhalation -Rechaka; exhalation & -Shunyaka; suspension after exhalation There are guidelines around each of these and one should prepare properly before practicing any of these.
Preparing Yourself For Pranayama
If you have no experience with asanas, pranayama or have not been practicing for a while, there are three pranayamas or breathing techniques that are very beneficial for everyone. These have no side effects at all and can be done by everyone. We have forgotten how to breathe properly over the years. We breathe normally and correctly till the time we are children. Once we hit puberty, we start breathing incorrectly. We need to train ourselves to breathe correctly through daily practice. This will brings us great benefits.
This is a type of breathing technique, isolates the diaphragm and only makes use of our abdominal muscles. Initially, one may find this exhausting but when the diaphragm starts functioning correctly, you will breathe like a baby.
In this type of breathing we do not move the diaphragm and shoulders at all. We only make use of the chest cavity and intercostal muscles to breathe. We do this by expanding our muscles sideways and not outwards or upwards.The following video explains this.
The clavicular muscles are the least utilized muscles for breathing. These are really tiny and require some training to function when required. When a great amount of oxygen is required, these muscles come into play. The video below demonstrates this technique. Practice ten rounds of each, twice a day, seven days a week for a few months and you will feel the difference in your life.