What are the Top 20 Wonder Facts about Pranayama?

20 wonder facts about Pranayama

  1. Pranayama, in simple words, can be understood as the breathing technique by which breath is regulated and controlled to activate the prāṇa within the body and mind. However, Pranayama is not a simple physiological respiratory process; instead, Pranayama goes beyond the physiological dimension. It also penetrates the mental and the more subtle prāṇic functioning of human life.

    What are the Top 20 Wonder Facts about Pranayama?
  2. Important Yoga traditions like ‘Pātañjalayoga’, ‘Haṭhayoga’ and ‘Tantra-sādhnā’ emphasise the practice of Pranayama. In Mahaṛṣi Patañjali’s ‘Aṣṭāṇga-yoga (eightfold path of Yoga)’ Pranayama is the fourth step. Mahaṛṣi Patañjali mentions that Pranayama helps the light to shine by removing its covering and makes the mind fit for concentration (Dhārana).
  3. In the current scenario, various research on Pranayama validate its worth and value in health. It is pretty helpful in the prevention and management of various psychosomatic disorders. The modern medical system also has recognised the health benefits of Pranayama. Consequently, people from all walks of life are keen to have a deeper understanding of the concept of Rich literature available on Pranayama but mainly in Sanskrit. The said knowledge is not, therefore, readily available to all. This encouraged the Institute to create a concise monograph/booklet on ‘Pranayama’.
  4. The word Pranayama is the combination of two Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyāma. Prāṇa means subtle life force (prāṇaśakti), and āyāma means expansion, control and extension.
  5. Pranayama is a precious exercise for properly functioning the human body and its systems. Regular practice of Pranayama influences the respiratory, circulatory, digestive, and endocrine systems.
  6. From the modern perspective, the practice of Pranayama can be explained in the following way: Pūraka,  a slow, deep and prolonged inhalation enhances oxygen intake. In pūraka, inhalation is very gentle and deep with full awareness.   This helps the chest expand more in its clavicular (upper) region, coastal (middle and lower) part from front to back, and sideways. Kumbhaka means retention of breath inside or outside. Kumbhaka, performed along with bandhas (Mulabandha, Uddiyanabandha and Jalandharbandha), helps in the metabolism process and a more efficient exchange of oxygen-carbon dioxide. Through regulated breathing, Kumbhaka ensures sufficient oxygen supply and thus allows the brain to work efficiently. Rechaka, an act of exhalation, is done very slowly. Rechaka assists in the more efficient release of carbon dioxide. The duration of rechaka is supposed to be twice the duration of pūraka.
  7. Pranayama ensures a sufficient supply of blood enriched with more oxygen, which is one of the necessary conditions for proper functioning of the brain, a control centre of the body. The brain controls all bodily functions. The brain has a network of nerves connected to the brain at one end and associated with different body parts at the other. For efficient functioning, the brain requires a constant and adequate supply of oxygenated blood, which is ensured by efficient respiration.
  8. Pranayama also affects autonomic nervous system (ANS) functioning, which is responsible for involuntary functions such as heart rate, glandular secretions, respiration, digestion and blood pressure.
  9. Pranayama’s practice is vital for an individual’s physical, mental and spiritual health. Pranayama must be practised under the supervision of an expert. The practitioner should take certain precautions to get the optimum results. Before practising Pranayama, one needs to ensure a suitable place, proper time, moderate diet (mitāhāra), sufficient light, patience and persistent practice with zeal, ease, earnestness and purification of nāḍī.
  10. Practising Pranayama correctly and systematically is necessary by properly following the rules. If Pranayama is done incorrectly and unsystematically, it will cause more physical disturbances. Irregular or incorrect practice can be harmful; therefore, it is better to practice only if done with proper technique.
  11. Pranayama involves physical, physiological and mental aspects, so one must take care of these things before practising Pranayama. A Sādhaka should be physically fit, and the attitude towards the practice should be positive. The Sādhaka must be enthusiastic, energetic and devoted.
  12. For Pranayama, the clear nasal passage is significant. For cleaning the nasal passage, jalaneti and sūtraneti are to be practised. These practices also stimulate the brain’s respiratory centre, which helps recondition breathing.
  13. The age of the sādhaka is also essential for practising Pranayama.  However, the Practice of Pranayama could begin after the age of 12 when almost all the systems, especially the respiratory system, are fully developed to meet any resistance or pressure in kumbhaka.  However, even at six, one can start learning Pranayama, but it should be gradual and moderate.
  14. Food has been the primary concern of human beings, especially the Yoga practitioner because it plays a vital role in yogasādhana. The purity of food leads to purity of mind. Therefore, one who takes a pure and moderate diet succeeds in Yoga.
  15. Pranayama should be performed in a clean and airy place. Pranayama should be practised in a well-ventilated area and free from insects, dust, smoke, foul odour or too much wind.
  16. Pranayama should be practised early, before sunrise or after sunset. Spring and autumn are the best seasons for beginners to start the Pranayama.
  17. Pranayama should be practised on an empty stomach. The bowel and bladder should be evacuated before practising Pranayama.
  18. There should be a gap of three to four hours after a full meal and two hours after light refreshment, etc. Soft food may be taken after half an hour of practising Pranayama. Moderate food (mitāhāra) is advised for better results. Oily and spicy food, smoking, and drinking liquor should be avoided.
  19. During the practice, there should be no strain on the eyes or ears or stiffness in muscles of the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, thighs or feet. Breathing should be slow and rhythmic.
  20. Pranayama should be practised in sitting postures (āsana) with appropriate bandha and mudrā. Shavasana should be performed after the practice of Pranayama. It will remove fatigue and relax the mind and body. Śavāsana can also be done during the practice session in case the individual gets tired.


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