“Pranayama is control of Breath”. “Prana” is Breath or vital energy in the body. On subtle levels prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force, and “ayama” means control. So Pranayama is “Control of Breath”. One can control the rhythms of pranic energy with pranayama and achieve healthy body and mind.
The importance of Prana is emphasized throughout yoga. Many yoga masters illustrate this by demonstrating the importance of breath for sustaining life. A very effective illustration comes by comparing the time people can survive without food (a few weeks), water (a few days) with the amount of time one could survive without air (only a few minutes). Efficient and effective breathing is essential to take in the required amounts of oxygen in order to sustain daily activities.
IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS FOR PRANAYAMA
1. Place for pranayama should be clean, peaceful and airy.
2. Pranayama should not be performed under a fan on full speed.
3. Pranayama should be done in morning hours preferably before the dawn.
4. Body must be cleansed before sitting for Pranayama.
5. Duration of Pranayama should be increased gradually and gradually.
6. One should not sit for Pranayama after meals. At least a gap of 3-4 hours is essential.
7. Pranayama should be practiced after Asans and before Meditation.
8. One should not strain the body.
Pranayama (According to the Gita)
Apane juhvati pranam pranepanam tathapare; Pranapanagatee ruddhva pranayamaparayanah (Gita, Ch. IV-29.). Others offer Prana (outgoing breath) in Apana (incoming breath) and Apana in Prana, restraining the passage of Prana and Apana, absorbed in Pranayama. Pranayama is a precious Yajna (sacrifice). Some practise the kind of Pranayama called Puraka (filling in). Some practise the kind of Pranayama called Rechaka (emptying). Some are engaged in the practice of Pranayama called Kumbhaka, by impeding the outward passage of air, through the nostrils and the mouth, and by impeding the inward passage of the air, in the opposite direction.
What are the benefits
At the anatomical level Pranayama aims to improve the strength of the diaphragm and the capacity of the lungs to improve the efficiency of the respiratory system, helping to increase fitness and increase the amount of oxygen entering the blood stream per breath. This oxygen helps to provide essential energy for muscle and brain function.
On a more detailed level pranayama is though to:
* Open the Nadis and remove blockages to energy flow in the body
* Increase relaxation and calmness by releasing tension.
* improves focus and concentration
* Strengthen and gain control of the diaphragm – improving abdominal tone, singing capacity, and health.
Here are some tips to help along the way:
During the practice of yoga postures, shift your awareness frequently to the flow of breath. When you can hold a posture comfortably, let the breath become your primary focus and explore the effect of the posture on respiratory muscles and on breath flow.
Spend generous amounts of time in the crocodile pose, learning to fully relax tension in the abdomen and lower back.