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pranayama

Pranayama is an aspect of Yoga that deals with breathing. It is the breathing process or the control of the motion of inhalation, exhalation and the retention of vital energy. Proper breathing is to bring more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and to control Prana or the vital life energy.

Anuloma Viloma - Alternate Nostril Breathing


This pranayama manipulates the flow of energy through the nadis (channels) in your body and ultimately brings about a balance of both stimulation and relaxation.

Anuloma Viloma

Sequence:

  1. Using your right hand close your nostrils:
    1. Tuck your index and middle fingers into the palm of your hand.
    2. Use your thumb to close your right nostril.
    3. Use your ring and little fingers together to close your left nostril.
  2. Breathe in through the left nostril closing the right.
  3. Hold breath, closing both nostrils.
  4. Breathe out through the right nostril keeping the left nostril closed.
  5. Breathe in through the right nostril keeping the left nostril closed.
  6. Hold the breath, closing both nostrils.
  7. Breathe out through the left nostril keeping the right closed.
  8. Count to two when inhaling, hold for the count of eight then exhale to the count of four.
  9. Start with eight rounds build up to sixteen rounds.

Caution:

  • Try to make the inhalation and exhalation of equal length.
  • Take care not to strain.
  • Try to make every breath soft and gentle.
  • Count to two when inhaling, hold for the count of eight then exhale to the count of four.

Benefits:

  • Anuloma Viloma restores the natural balance in your breathing.
  • It will remove tension, fear, and worry and will make the mind calm, poised and serene.
  • Through the practice of this Pranayama, happiness, health, vigour and melodious voice can be attained.
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Bhastrika Pranayama - Bellow Breathing


"Bhastrika" means the "bellows" in Sanskrit.Just as a blackcmith works his bellows, so are the abdominal muscles exercised during this practice in which air is forcefully drawn in and out.

Bhastrika

Sequence:

  1. Sit straight in a comfortable posture. padmasana is the best asana to adopt
  2. Let the left hand rest on the left knee and place the right hand next to the nose.
  3. Inhale and exhale quickly in short and shallow breaths through both nostrils from four to ten times.
  4. Close off both nostrils and apply both jalandhara and mool bandha while retaining the breath.
  5. Raise your head and exhale through the right nostril to cool the body down.
  6. Now apply uddiyana bandha directly after the exhalation.
  7. Begin your practice with three rounds of ten pumpings and then very gradually work up to a maximum of eight rounds of a hundred pumpings.

Caution:

  • Extending a series for so long can also cause dizziness.
  • Comfort and not reckless excess should guide your motives and manner of doing.
  • Excess in practice may induce dizziness, drowsiness and loss of consciousness.

Benefits:

  • This pranayama makes you relaxed and revitalized.
  • It revives and stimulates the nervous system and the circulatory system.
  • Bhastrika breathing clears the mind of confusion and enhance your powers of focus.
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Bhramari Breathing


In this breathing practice a soft "humming-bee" sound is produced during exhalation. So this pranyama is named Bhramari.

Bhramari Breathing

Sequence:

  1. Sit in a comfortable posture keeping the head, beck and spine erect.
  2. Place the right thumb against the right nostril but do not close it.
  3. Inhale slowly and deeply through both nostrils.
  4. Press the right nostril with the right thumbs.
  5. Retain the breath for a while, then exhale touching the lungs throat area and larynx.
  6. While inhaling and exhaling, concentrate the conscious mind on the throat and produce a humming sound like the buzzing of a bee.

Caution:

  • Take care not to strain.

Benefits:

  • It makes the voice sweet and gently, and helps clarity of speech.
  • It is useful for hypertension and depression and aids brain cells.
  • Breathing becomes deep and subtle.
  • The extended exhalation in this breathing exercise is very good for pregnant women in preparation for labor.
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Kapala Bhati Breathing


"Kapala" means "skull" (and by implication, the brain) and "Bhati" means "shines" in Sanskrit. This practice cleanses the nasal passages in the skull and other passages of the respiratory system.

Bhastrika

Sequence:

  1. Sit firmly in a cross-legged posture with the spine, neck and head held erect.
  2. First, exhale completely and then take a few deep breaths.
  3. Relax the abdominal muscles.
  4. Inhale without taking a deep breath; make a short and forceful expulsion of the breath through both nostrils producing a hissing sound and, simultaneously, contract the lower abdomen by a rapid and vigorous thrust of the abdominal muscles.
  5. Release the contraction of the abdominal muscles quickly and the lungs will automatically take in air. Follow at once by another forcible expulsion of your breath, contracting the abdomen in the same manner and letting it relax outward as the air is drawn in again.
  6. Repeat the exercise a number of times in quick succession, concentrating your mind on the region of the abdomen below the navel.
  7. After you complete a round and make the last exhalation, take in a deep and slow breath and then resume normal breathing to afford rest to the lungs.
  8. Increasing the number and speed gradually, try to do two expulsions a second (120 a minute) in each round which should be the maximum.
  9. Perform three rounds in each sitting, with sufficient pause between the rounds, when normal breathing should be done.

Benefits:

  • Kapala Bhati flushes out stale residual air in the lungs and helps a fresh supply of air to reach them.
  • It lends elasticity to the diaphragm and increases the capacity of the lungs.
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Moorchha Pranayama


"Moorchhha" means "fainting" or "swooning breath" in which the breath is inhaled slowly and retained for an extended period.

Bhramari Breathing

Sequence:

  1. Sit as usual in a comfortable position with the head, neck and spine straight.
  2. Concentrate the conscious mind between the eyebrows, which is called the centre of intuition.
  3. Inhale gradually and deeply through the mouth.
  4. Let the conscious mind merge into the center of intuition.
  5. Touch the chin tightly to the throat cavity (jugular notch).
  6. Relax the jalandhara banda.
  7. Then exhale slowly.
  8. This creates a favourable experience, so it is called Moorccha Pranayama.
  9. Begin with nine times and increase with time up to fifteen minutes.

Benefits:

  • This exercise promotes happiness of mind, achievement of bliss and removes lustfulness.
  • It also helps the mind to draw inwards.
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Sheetali Breathing


"Sheetali Pranayama" or "cooling breath" - a pranayama technique that lowers the body temperature by inhaling through the mouth while letting the breath flow in over the tongue.

Sheetali Breathing

Sequence:

  1. Sit in a comfortable posture, keeping the hands on the knees as a gyana mudra.
  2. Extend the tongue and roll up each side to make a channel like a bird's beak.
  3. Suck the air over the tongue and the fill the lungs completely.
  4. The pressures on the diaphragm should extend down to the navel.
  5. Withdraw the tongue and close the mouth.
  6. Hold the breath for a while and then exhale gradually through the nostrils.
  7. Continue this practice from one to five minutes.

Caution:

  • In order to be sure that the tongue remains moist, roll it back as far as possible against the palate.

Benefits:

  • Sheetali Pranayama quenches thirst.
  • It improves the efficiency of the liver and reduces bile.
  • It also reduces high blood pressure.
  • It increases coolness, brightness and peacefulness.
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Ujjayi Breathing


"Ujjayi Pranayama" - a kind of breathing technique which produces a light sonorous sound.

Anuloma Viloma

Sequence:

  1. Sit erect at ease on the carpet in padmasana or sidhasana.
  2. Inhale slowly, deeply, steadily and evenly through both nostrils while slightly closing the glottis.
  3. A sweet sound should be heard like a baby snoring during respiration.
  4. Retain the breath, applying both jalandhara and moola Bandhas.
  5. Exhale slowly, steadily and evenly through both nostrils, openong the glottis partially and producing a frictional sound gently and continuously.
  6. After the breath has been exhaled apply uddiyana bandha.
  7. Start with three pranayamas, extending this to twenty-seven; nine in the morning, nine at noon and nine in the evening per day.

Benefits:

  • Ujjayi pranayama strengthens the nervous and digestive systems.
  • It is a powerful cure for phlegm.
  • Ujjayi Pranayama balances high blood pressure and the mind.
  • It removes mucus and relieves swelling of the tonsils, coughs and colds.
  • It makes the voice sweet and pacifies the mind.


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