Pranayama Benefits, Significance, Importance and Meaning

Pranayama, a form of Yoga breathing

Pranayama is not a simple breathing exercise yet it is a scientific breathing process where control over prana is achieved.  Pranayama is the connecting link between physical (asanas) and mental (meditation) yogic practices.

Pranayama Meaning

Pranayama is a Sanskrit word which consists of prana and ayama. Prana means self-energizing life forces and ayama means extension. Pranayama may be defined as expansion and control of prana through various yogic techniques. In a simple way, we can say that pranayama is a combination of systematic exhalation and inhalation.

Significance & importance of Pranayama

Pranayama is one of the important vital components of Yoga that directly or indirectly affects the proper functioning of different systems of the body.  If you practice pranayama regularly, it shows beneficial impacts upon respiratory system, circulatory system, digestive system and endocrine system. Pranayama ensures more oxygen to lungs and good for hearts too. Pranayama tones up kidney and control the functions of nervous system. Kumbhaka or retention of breath helps supply of oxygen or exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide thus facilitates better work of lungs and helps brain to work more efficiently.  Pranayama affects autonomic nervous system which controls heart rate, glandular secretions, respiration, digestion and blood pressure.

Difference between Pranayama and breathing

There is a difference between pranayama and breathing process. Pranayama is not a simple breathing process; it is much more than exhalation and inhalation. Pranayama is a regulated breathing, which comprises pukara-slow and prolonged inhalation, kumbhaka-retention of breathe, and recaka-slow and prolonged exhalation.  While breathing involves inhalation and exhalation. Pranayama is always performed in specific posture, especially sitting in padmasana while in case of breathing, it is not so like that.  Breathing provides physical benefits while pranayama involves physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

How to do Pranayama?

Before practising pranayama, certain precautions and essentials are to be taken.  For pranayama practices, one has to ensure proper place, suitable time, mitahara diet and proper light. Pranayama can be practiced to any place that is well-ventilated from external disturbances.  Spring and autumn seasons are the best periods for practicing pranayama as these seasons are favourable to the body and mind to keep them synergizes with the outside environment. To be fit and healthy, 15 minutes of pranayama is good. It is also suggested that pranayama should be performed under the guidance of a yoga instructor.

Pranayama Precautions

Pranayama should be practised at a place which is free from dust, pollutants, smoke and filthy things. The sitting ground should be flat and smooth. The suitable time for performing pranayama is early in the morning on empty stomach.  To have the proper benefits, one should practised pranayama regularly. Pranayama facilitates better blood circulation in the body when it is done after bath. One should ensure that breathing should be through nose and it should be slow and rhythmic.  During pranayama, eyes should be closed to control the mind and body.

Types of Pranayama

There are Eight types of pranayama as per the ancient scriptures.

  1. Suryabhedhana
  2. Ujjayi
  3. Sitkari
  4. Sitali
  5. Bhastrika
  6. Bhramari
  7. Murccha’
  8. Plavini

Top benefits of breathing exercise Pranayama

  1. Pranayama control ageing.
  2. Pranayama makes oxygen circulation smooth, helps in weight regulation by melting fat as more oxygen burns more fat.
  3. Pranayama is the key of Intelligence.
  4. It provides lightness to the body; acts as diseases destructor, brings vigour and power.
  5. Pranayama helps in lungs expansion thereby improves its efficiency and makes it healthy.
  6. It also helps in contending blood pressure and heart diseases; makes digestion smooth.
  7. It cures the phlegm, mucus and tonsillitis problems. Makes your gums and teeth healthy.
  8. Pranayama brings stillness and calmness to the mind, increased concentration and stability of mind. Pranayama is good for physical, mental and spiritual happiness.
  9. I t makes you free from constipation and indigestion problems.
  10. Pranamaya stimulates autonomic nervous system, sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous systems. It helps to ease stress, anxiety and tension. It also eases depression, dullness and lethargy.

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