Posted: Sunday, December 05th, 2010 | Posted by: vijay sj | Views: 16295
Share with Friends Rating: Your Rating: Report
The Art of Breathing - PRANAYAMA

We are all aware that life and breathing are synonymous. Yoga aims to make you aware of this fact in a conscious way. Mostly we tend to neglect our breathing pattern. We allow our breathing rhythm to change with our emotions. This is of course very natural - we breathe hard and fast when we are excited and slowly when we are relaxed. Our moods are connected to our breathing.

Yoga has several techniques of breathing that help you improve your physical health and also moderate your emotions. There is evidence that these techniques have cured many chronic diseases by its positive effect on the respiratory system, immune system, blood circulation, metabolism and various organs of the body.

Pranayama are breathing exercises developed by the ancient yogis for purification. Prana translates into life force energy and Yama translates into control or mastery of. Thus, Pranayama is used to control, cultivate, and modify the Prana in the body.
  • Kapalabhati Pranayama
  • Dirga Pranayama
  • Ujjayi Pranayama
  • Nadi Sodhana Pranayama
  • Anulom Vilom Pranayama
  • Surya Bhedana Pranayama
  • Bhramari Pranayama

Kapalabhati Pranayama
The breath of fire - invigorating, energizing, and purifying

This breathing exercise helps to rid body of toxins. It is recommended for emphysema and other respiratory ailments. It strengthens and increases blood circulation to the abdominal organs and muscles, including the diaphragm. It is also helps against high blood pressure and good tones the heart.

In Kapalabhati, the breath is short, rapid, and strong. We use the lungs as a pump, creating so much pressure as they expel the air that all the waste is removed from the air passages, from the lungs up through the nostrils.

Kapala means "skull," and bhati means "that which brings lightness." Kapalabhati is a good thing to do when we feel depressed or confused.

If we have problems with the sinuses or feel numb around the eyes, Kapalabhati can help to clear this area as well.

Sit comfortably on the floor in Padmasana posture or if you prefer sit in a chair. Keep your spine erect.

To exhale, the belly is sucked into the spine forcing the air out of the nose. Place a hand on your belly to feel the belly actively pumping. You could perform 45-60 exhalations/30 seconds.

You should keep a steady rhythm. Start with 2-3 rounds of 30 exhalations, and gradually increase the exhalations if comfortable.

You must be very careful with this technique because there is a danger of creating tension in the breath. You may also become dizzy when you breathe rapidly; for this reason you should always conclude the practice of Kapalabhati with some slow breaths.

It is important not to breathe rapidly too many times, but after a few rapid breaths take several slow ones.

Dirga Pranayama
Complete 3 part breath - calming and relaxing

Dirga Pranayama is called the three part breath because you are actively breathing into three parts of your abdomen.

Sit with your spine erect, or lie down on your back. Begin taking long, slow, and deep breaths through the nostrils.

First part of abdomen is the belly on top of or just below the belly button.

The second position is the lower chest or lower half of the rib cage, and

The third position is the low throat just above the top of the sternum.

The inhalation starts in the first position, the belly; then moves to the second position, the lower chest; then the it moves to the low throat,

The exhalation is reversed – from the throat the air moves to the low chest, and finishes in the low belly. When starting off, you could use your hands to rest on the individual positions to feel the breath rising and falling in each position.

When you have a good feel for the breath moving in and out of each position, practice with out the hands.

Repeat the cycle about 10 times.

Ujjayi Pranayama
The ocean sounding breath - aids in concentration

Ujjayi Pranayama is called the ocean sounding breath because you make an ocean sound by contracting the glottis (constricting the back of the throat) with the inhalation and exhalation.

Breathing is done through the nose, but it is helpful to begin practicing breathing through the mouth. To make the ocean sound, whisper the syllable 'H' feeling a contraction in the throat.

Keep this contraction engaged on the inhalation and exhalation. After a couple of breaths try to close the mouth, breathing through the nose while still making the ocean sound in your throat.

Repeat the cycle about 10 times.

Nadi Sodhana Pranayama
Alternate nostril breathing - Balancing, calming, anti-anxiety, and very relaxing

Nadi means channeland refers to the energy pathways through which prana flows. Shodhana means cleansing -- so Nadi Shodhana means channel cleaning.

This is simple form of alternate nostril breathing suitable for all.

Place the right hand in Vishnu Mudra (Hold your right hand up and curl your index and middle fingers toward your palm).

RIGHT INHALE - Place your thumb next to your right nostril and your ring finger and pinky by your left. Close the left nostril by pressing gently against it with your ring finger and pinky, and inhale through the right nostril. The breath should be slow, steady and full.

LEFT EXHALE - Now close the right nostril by pressing gently against it with your thumb, and open your left nostril by relaxing your ring finger and pinky and exhale fully with a slow and steady breath.

LEFT INHALE - This time you inhale deeply and steadily through the left nostril keeping the right nostril closed with the thumb.

RIGHT EXHALE - Keeping your left nostril closed with the ring finger you exhale from the right nostril.

Repeat this cycle as many times as possible starting off with about 20 rounds.

Anulom Vilom Pranayama
Alternate nostril breathing - restores, equalizes and balances the flow of Prana in the body.

Anuloma Vilom produces optimum function to both sides of the brain. This will make both sides of the brain, the left side which is responsible for logical thinking and the right side which is responsible for creative thinking to function properly; leading to a balance between a person's creative and logical thinking. This is considered the best technique to calm the mind and the nervous system.

Please note that one should not confuse this technique with Nadi Shodhana - alternate nostril breathing; it appears similar but it is very different in reality. Please observe the difference by reading and comparing the steps.

You inhale through one nostril, retain the breath, and exhale through the other nostril in a ratio of 2:8:4. You start the exercise with the left nostril inhalation.

  1. Inhale through the left nostril, closing the right with the thumb, to the count of four.
  2. Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of sixteen.
  3. Exhale through the right nostril, closing the left with the ring and little fingers, to the count of eight.
  4. Inhale through the right nostril, keeping the left nostril closed with the ring and little fingers, to the count of four.
  5. Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of sixteen.
  6. Exhale through the left nostril, keeping the right closed with the thumb, to the count of eight.
Surya Bhedana Pranayama
Breath of sun- Burns calories; obesity cure

Surya means sun, referring to the right nostril. When you inhale solely through this nostril, heat is created in the body and the impurities that block the flow of Prana are dispelled.

Inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left, holding the inhaled breath as long as possible before exhaling.

Press the index and middle finger of the right hand against the palm of that hand (Vishnu Mudra)

Use the thumb to close the right nostril and the ring and little fingers to close the left nostril.

If you are left handed, you may reverse this procedure. When both nostrils are open, the fingers rest on the bridge of the nose.

You may start your practice by repeating Surya Bhedana ten times and slowly build up to forty.

Chandra Bhedana Pranyama
Passing thru the Moon - This is a cooling pranayama; regulates high blood pressure

Chandra means moon and is synonymous with the left nostril. When you inhale solely through the left nostril the body is cooled.

Inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right, holding the inhaled breath as long as possible before exhaling.

Inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril.

NOTE: Avoid practicing BOTH Surya and Chandra on the same day.

Bhramari Pranayama
The bee (humming) breath - relieves mental depression and anxiety

Bhramari is described as involving rapid inhalation producing a high humming sound like that of a male bee and slow exhalation producing a low humming sound like that of a female bee.

Sit in a meditation pose with a straight back. Place the hands on the knees and close the eyes. Inhale deeply through the nose and hold the breath.

Lean a little forward so you are supported by straight arms, placing the weight on the knees. Now bend the head so the chin touches the chest (chin lock). Hold the breath a while in the pose.

The exhalation takes place through the nose, while the mouth is closed (but the jaw is held so relaxed that the teeth don't touch each other). A smooth, deep and relatively strong humming sound, like that of a bumble bee, is produced during the exhalation.

Become one with the sound vibrations and let them fill your whole head, maybe even the whole body. After the exhalation breathe normally.

In this technique you breathe both in and out through both nostrils and producing a snoring, buzzing or humming sound in both directions.

The sounds differ from inhaling, which has a higher pitch, than from exhaling, which has a lower pitch.

Repeat 5-10 rounds, making the buzzing noise louder as you progress. Afterwards, sit still with closed eyes.

NOTE: You are advised to get PRACTICAL guidance for this technique.

A.K. Naveen, Yoga Trainer
5-60 Manipal Cross Road, Alevoor, Guddeangadi, UDUPI 574133.
PHONE: 0820 - 3200851
Please login to add your comments.