What is Pranayama?
Pranayama – expansion of life-energy force by breath control. Prānāyāma is the 4th limb explained in the Ashtanga Yoga system. The Upanishads and Vedas emphasis very much on Prāna. Pranayama uses various techniques to accumulating, controlling and channelling the Prāna.
Simple principle – Pooraka (prolonged inhalation), Antar Kumbhaka (internal retention of breath), Rechaka (prolonged exhalation), and Bahaya Kumbhaka (external retention of breath). This Breathing provides physical benefits, purify Nadi system (nervous system), arrest the prana for healing and samadhi.
Bandha are an important and part of Pranayama. The practitioner is only doing deep breathing exercises without using bandha. Results in not able to arrest the prana. There are 3 bandhas explained in Hatha Yoga Manual:
Bandha: Body locks – Moolbandha (Root lock), Uddiyan-bandha (abdominal lock) and Jalandhar-bandha (throat lock) are very important to control, keep and regulate the flow of Prāna Vāyu (Life-energy force) in the body. It helps to prepare the kundalini awakening. 4th body-lock is Mahabandha (great lock) combination of all 3 bandha.
Mudra: There are 10 main mudras explained in Hatha Yoga Pradipika (The manual of Yoga). Some sacred (secret) mudras and others combining hand and fingers mudras. It channels Prāna vàyù ((Life-energy force) in special Nadi system – Idá, Pinglá and Sushmná.
Pranayama Positive Effects
Research finds that Pranayama has positive impacts on the Central nervous system (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). It influences the Autonomic Nervous System and the Somatic Nervous System. The direct impact on the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous system is extremely positive. Here are more general benefits:
- It reverses the heart, lungs and brain diseases.
- Develops High immunity.
- It balanced the three dosha – vāta, Pittā and Kaphā.
- Releases from stress, anxiety.
- Brings calmness and increased awareness and focus.
The glory of Pranayama from Ancient Scriptures
“A yogi dispels flippancy by Asana, sins by Pranayamā and mental disorders by Pratyahara” (Yoga Cūdamanya Upanishad 2.2)
“There is an intimate relation between prana and mind With the stabilizing the prana, the mind concentrates automatically.” (Yoga Darshana 2.52, 53)
“With the Prānayama done methodically all the diseases are eradicated and all diseases can develop by doing the Prānayama in an improper way” (Hatha Yoga Pradipika)
and much more…
Students learn controlling prana while doing asana in my Prana Yoga class. It is an ancient and authentic Yogic method of yoga. Holding a pose (Asana) and holding a deep breath with body lock is an intense and powerful way to experience the positive effects of Yoga.