Pranayama is a compound word of “prana” and “ayama”. The word “Prana” means an essential force around which the entire universe or cosmos pervades. With context to the human body and its existence, “Prana” is the core energy which leads to the development and sustenance of nervous as well the physical system of a human body. On the other hand “Ayama” can symbolize a flow or a rhythm.

Thus by practicing Pranayama, the human body can stimulate and circulate vital energy within the while controlling it in better manner as well. Pranayama is a definite technique which has been studied in great depth in order to regulate the breathing activity to attain better health conditions.

In Yoga, Pranayama has a fixed set of breathing processes which involve systematic regular of both inhalation as well as exhalation processes. Inhalation is called as “Puraka” while exhalation is called "Rechaka". On the other hand the natural inhalation process in called “Swashna” and in the case of induced inhalation and exhalation which involves extension of time and mental awareness can be called "Deerghaswashana"

Main Pranayam Practices

  • Bhastrika – In Bhastrika, you are supposed to breathe deeply and fill your lungs with fresh air. Hold the air for a few moments and release it through the nose.
  • Kapalbhati Pranayama – Deep breathly and exhale out the air by pushing the stomach inwards. While the inhalation process has to be subtle, exhalation has to slightly vigorous. Ideally for best results Kapalbhati is done 200 times or say 10-15 minutes daily. Kapalbhati is a time tested and trusted cure for stomach related ailments such as acidity and gas, obesity and indigestion.
  • Anulom-Vilom: Yet another type of controlled breathing exercise which involves breathing through one nostril and exhaling through the other. Breathe in through the left nostril while keeping the right nostril closed, followed by opening the right nostril for exhaling while keeping the left nostril closed. Ideally you should practice this for 15 minutes for best results. Practice Anulom-Vilom for getting rid of hypertension or high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, bronchitis and migraine.
  • Brahmari – First breath in deeply, press the inside edges of the eyes using the middle fingers. Whilst breathing in, you should sound like a honeybee and while exhaling, “Omkar” should be chanted. Ideally you should do it 21 times, beginning with 11 times in the initial stages. Brahmari effectively solves problems related to the nervous system especially the eyes, ears, nose and throat.
  • Udgeet – This form of pranayam involves chanting of “OM” while concentrating on inhaling and exhaling. So gently and subtly it should be practiced that not a sound or slight movement is experienced.
  • Meditation: think of your religious deity and simply breathe with total concentration. Become oblivion to the existing world and its issues, just deeply breathe and bathe into the spiritual energy. Though total concentration through meditation takes time to attain, nevertheless regular meditating session helps in attaining higher levels of energy – spiritual, mental and even physical.

Major Benefits of practicing Pranayama

  • Accelerates the thinking process
  • Makes you feel confident and always in control
  • Helps you to combat diseases internally
  • Helps in curing psycho physical diseases
  • Elevates the mental state to a higher plane