Pranayama- The Elixir to Living Longer and Healthier
Apr 13, 2019
Have you ever wondered how Pranayama helps us in living longer and healthier? Let us under understand Pranayama before proceeding further.
Pranayama is a traditional aspect of yoga which consists of Sanskrit word “Prana” meaning "life force" and “ayama” meaning "control."
When you understand the meaning of breath in terms of life force, then a connection is build up between controlling your breath and your life. Pranayama is the most important part of yoga. It is indeed a game of breath.
Breathing is something which we cannot miss; we do it all the time and on a daily basis. The body breathes involuntarily whether we are awake or sleeping. It is a vital function of life. Pranayama is also known as an extension of breath. Every cell in our body needs oxygen to function properly.
It is observed that regular practice of controlled breathing can decrease the effect of stress on our body and increase overall physical and mental health.
Let us read some of the Pranayama exercises which can be regularly practiced:
Sitali Pranayama- The Cooling Breath
This pranayama is helpful during summers. The Sanskrit word “Sitali” means cooling; it can affect our mind and body instantly. This breath encourages in clearing the heat from the body and brings coolness.
Roll your tongue, touch the outer edge, form a tube. If you can’t roll your tongue, then make an oval shape with your mouth, keep your tongue flat. Inhale through your mouth, taking in all the air; it may cause a hissing sound. After inhaling bring the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and close your lips. Feel the coolness while inhaling in your mouth and then exhale through your nose.
The Right Time to Do: If you are feeling overheated, or waiting impatiently in hot weather. Sitali is a great pranayama exercise to cool and relax.
Kapalabhati Pranayama- Skull Shining Breath
Kapalabhati is a cleansing technique. This breath will help in clearing mucus in the air passage, reduce bloating, and relieve congestion. It is an invigorating breathe which produces heat in the body.
Sit in Sukhasana, keep your spine straight and exhale completely. Inhale briefly through both nostrils and then exhale sharply. Pull your navel in towards your spine. The inhalation is short and quick, but very active, while the exhalation is short and passive. Do at least one round of 30 counts of exhalation and rest for a minute with some deep breaths in between.
The Right Time to Do: Practise this Pranayama early in the morning. You may try this when you are feeling congested or bloated.
Precaution: Avoid doing it on a full stomach. Do not practice if you are pregnant or suffer from blood pressure issues or heart conditions.
Ujjayi Pranayama- Victory Breath
Ujjayi Pranayama is also known as “ocean breathe” due to the sound it creates. This breath used while practicing the asanas, especially in Ashtanga and Vinyasa classes. It expands the lungs, and by focusing on breathe, it assists in calming the mind.
Sit in vajrasana or sukhasana, keep your spine straight. Take a steady breath through both nostrils. Inhale until you reach your capacity, now hold your breath for few seconds, and constrict some of the breath at the back of your throat and exhale slowly through your nostrils. You will feel the air on the roof of your mouth as you exhale. Repeat up to 20 times.
The Right Time to Do: Victory breathing can be practiced any time of day. Try it with asanas as well.
Anuloma Viloma (Nadi Shodhana)- Alternate Nostril Breathing
This pranayama is very relaxed and balancing breath which is used to calm the nervous system and it also cures insomnia. It increases the amount of oxygen taken into the body. This breathe purifies the blood, calm the mind, reduce stress and anxiety and improves concentration level.
It can be done in both ways either by sitting or lying down. To start, empty all the air from the lungs. Using the thumb of your right hand, block your right nostril and inhale through your left nostrils only. Be sure to inhale from your belly, not from your chest. Now, do the same from the left nostril, block the left nostril with the ring finger of the same hand, Keep your right nostril closed, and hold the breath for a moment. Perform up to ten cycles and notice how your body react. You will feel relaxed and calm.
The Right Time to Do: It can be done any time in a day as it is calm and soothing breath. Try this pranayama when you are nervous, anxious or having trouble while sleeping.
Pranayama is a breathing technique which will help you pause from daily stress. The more you practice, the longer you will be able to perform the exercise. Focus on these breaths, and you will feel rejuvenated.