We all know about the process of breathing but only a few know about the benefits of breathing, apart from the fact that it is the most important function carried out by a human mechanism. In order to reap the mystical benefits of respiration, practice pranayama yoga.
Can anyone tell what is the single most activity done by every creature on earth, be it homo sapiens or animals? It is the act of breathing. Yes, the vital energy in our bodies without which we cannot imagine our lives. It is a continuous process that takes place automatically. The first and foremost reason for survival is the act of respiration. Scientific research indicates that the process of breathing is the secret to better health and productive mind.
It has been observed that the rate of breathing changes according to the mood and feelings experienced by a human being. Short and shallow breaths occur when a person is stressed while deeper breaths happen when the person is relaxed. The vital force alters every time we sob, laugh or yawn. We all have probably understood that our breathing depends on how we feel. But, we haven’t learnt that we can change our feeling and mood with the use of breath. This is a miracle! The mind faces a terrible time telling itself what to do, especially when sad and, this is where breathing comes in. Several respiration techniques control our mind and help us calm and stabilize.
The next question that tickles the mind of several entities is ‘What are the various breathing techniques and, which art form comprises of these inhalation and exhalation practices and, so on?’ The answer is found in the roots of the traditional art of yoga. The science of yoga and breathing is interlinked. The breath forms the main component of yoga practice. The conscious breathing during yoga classes assists the individual to connect with the subtle energy. When the practitioners concentrate on each breath, they let go of the past worries and, reside in the present moment. It affects our biological health and state of mind. In yogic wisdom, the breathing technique is known by the Sanskrit name ‘Pranayama’.
Pranayama is composed of two words ‘Prana’ and ‘Ayama’ meaning ‘life force or breath’ and ‘control or implication’ of breathing techniques respectively. Collectively, it means working in the dimension of prana. The universal force prana nourishes the mind and keeps the body alive. The pranayama is the fourth limb of Ashtanga yoga outlined by the sage Patanjali. The fourth limb is further categorized into four stages known as Puraka (Inhalation), Abhyantara Kumbhaka (The pause after inhalation), Rechaka (exhalation) and Bahya Kumbhaka (the pause after exhalation).
The prana flows through thousands of energy channels called ‘nadis’ and power centers known as ‘chakras.’ The state of your mind is determined by the flow of prana through the nadis and chakras and its quality and quantity. In order to maintain continuous, smooth flow of prana that enables calm and positive mind, practice pranayama yoga for mindfulness.
Have a look at four yoga poses for pranayama:
1. Sukhasana or cross-legged pose:
Sit on the yoga mat with stretched legs. Bend both the legs at the knee and, place the right foot under the left thigh and, left foot under the right calf. You can also place the foot using your hands. Ensure that the spine is erect; the upper body is straight and motionless during the practice. While remaining in the pose, practice breathing and meditation techniques. If not comfortable on the floor then you can practice the asana in a chair.
2. Siddhasana or Adept Pose:
Begin in seated position and stretched legs. Bend the right knee and place the right foot on the floor and, similarly bend the left knee and place it on top of the right calf such that the left sole touches the right thigh. Now,pull the right toes between the thigh and calf of the left leg and the left toes between the right thigh and calf. Keep the body straight and if you face any difficulty, place a cushion.
3. Vajrasana or Sitting on the heels pose:
Kneel down with legs together and big toes of each foot touching each other. Point the heels outwards, bend the upper body forward and sit in between the heels. Straighten your arms and place the hands upon thighs.
4. Padmasana or Lotus Pose:
Sit down with straight legs. Bend the right leg and locate the foot on the left thigh near to the body and, likewise bend the left leg and keep the left foot on top of the right thigh touching the body. Ensure the upper body is upright and the knees touch the floor.
Practice pranayama yoga postures for various body and mind benefits that balance the entire mechanism and results in heedfulness.