We start breathing much before we are born and the inhaling exhaling process stops only when the life force goes out. Thus, breathing is the most important process in our body. In fact, it is breathing that is the key to all our mind and body can do. It provides oxygen which is essential for a living being. In yoga breath is known as prana.
Pranayama – The way to learning to breathe the correct way
Breathing the right way is essential for health and, Pranayama is the process prescribed by Patanjali in Yoga sutras. It comes after the first three steps of Yama, Niyama and Asana in Ashtanga Yoga. Pranayama has one more step, breath retention (Known as Kumbhaka in Yoga) added to normal exhaling and inhaling. If we break down the word Pranayama, it simply means Prana – Breath and Yama – Control.
The importance of Pranayama for the mind control is explained in classical curriculum of hatha Yoga text, Hatha Yoga Pradeepika of Yogi Swatmarama which says that,
“As long as breathing is unsteady, the mind remains unsteady. When breathing becomes steady the mind also becomes steady”.
The ancient Ayurvedic texts have detailed descriptions for the practice of this breath control technique. It helps to increase energy levels in the body and reduce anxiety and stress. The effect of Pranayam is better blood flow and oxygen retention which also slows down the ageing process.
Effect of Pranayama on Mind and Body
Pranayama is very effective in controlling the blood pressure and helps to improve the working of internal organs. When in stress and when angry the breathing is generally done forcefully and through the diaphragm which is harmful to the body. This process helps calm down the process of breathing making it smooth and slow and making maximum use of lungs. Rhythm is associated with breathing, which really makes the internal organs work better. Every organ in the body has a vibration and Pranayama aims to match the vibrations of the internal organs.Regular Pranayama practice induces relaxation, regularity and integration of the body’s rhythms and processes so that they work together in harmony.
Note: The best effect of Pranayama is always under a trained yogi. It is also better to follow the steps and start practising Pranayama after mastering Yama, Niyama and Asana.