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Home Yoga Teacher Training Article Pranayama: An Energetic Practice of Hatha Yoga for Enhancing Vitality

Pranayama: An Energetic Practice of Hatha Yoga for Enhancing Vitality

Pranayama is one of the important sadhana of Ashtanga Yoga for the accomplishment of the higher dimensions of Yogic practices such as concentration and meditation. Hatha Yoga explains this technique with varieties in order to bring the purification of the mind and body. It is a technique used to channelize the pranic force for the free flow of energy in the subtle energy channels. The regular practice of pranayama brings wonderful health to the practitioner. It is one of the most fascinating techniques loved by many students of Yoga Teacher Training Course in India.

Pranayama, According Patanjali yoga sutras, is defined as the practice of the regulation of the speed of the breath both in the process of inhalation as well as exhalation. The practice involves the components of inhalation, exhalation and retention of the breath. This approach takes with the place, time and frequency of each round of the technique so that the breath becomes subtle and longer.

The Curriculum of Classical Hatha Yoga texts, such as Hathapradipika of Swatmarama explains the technique of pranayama for the mind control. There is strong relationship between the patterns of the breath and thoughts. The stability o the mind is the result of the stability of the breath, hence, a yoga practitioner is called to control the breath in order to control his mind. This control needs to be with a strong discipline in the practice as the improper practice becomes harmful to the practitioner.

Swara yoga explains the science of pranayama in beautiful way. The flow of energy in system takes place through thousands of nadis. There are three important nadis. They are ida,pingala and shushumna.The behavior of the mind and body will be different during the change in the volume of the air in each nostrils. This uni nostril dominance has been the scientific explanation for the shift in the activities of our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Functions of Prana and their locations in the body
The vital force in the body is distributed in different locations with different names. They are called as panca pranas. Five organs of actions along with these pancha prana form the pranamaya kosha which is called as sheath of vitality according to the taittiriya Upanishad. Each of these pranas are responsible for specific functions in our body, They are ;
1. Prana - It is the chief of all the pranic forces, located between the throat and chest, this prana is responsible for the functions of the cardio respiratory systems.
2. Apana - This is downward moving force located below the navel region and perineum. This is responsible for the functions reproductive and excretory systems.
3. Samana - This is balancing force located in the navel region. The functions of the digestive systems are cared with support of this prana, the functions of absorption and assimilation of the nutrients in the body talks place through the proper function o the samana.
4. Udana - It is an integrating force in the body, this prana located in the region of head above the neck. This brings the coordination between the sense organs and motor organs.
5. Vyana - It is the backup force, Pervading throughout the body, Takes part in the support of the above four pranas when they find imbalance or depletion in energy levels. There are five sub pranas to sustain the functions of these pancha pranas
Preparation to the practice of Pranayama
The practice of pranayama is an intense sadhana hence it is important to consider the good preparation for aching the safety in the practice. The following practices and principles will be of great help in the progress in the techniques of pranayama without much difficulty.
1. Practice of cleansing techniques If the body is having the imbalance in the three humors, viz;Vata,Pitta and Kapaha it is good to practice the cleansing techniques like, Kapalbhati, Neti, Nouli and Dhouti. The purification of the body helps to get rid of the toxins, Allows the free flow of the breath.
2. Mastery in the practice of Asana It is recommended to achieve the proficiency in the practice of different yoga poses. This will help to train the lungs and associated systems to develop the progress without any kind of undue strain during the practice. It is also helpful to maintain stable and comfortable posture for a prolonged period of practice.
3. The Practice of Bandhas and Mudras Bandhas and Madras are very useful techniques in the practice of pranayama as they will be helpful to redirect the pranic force and helps to sustain the practice with the safety and support. The three important locks are chin lock, abdominal lock and the root lock.
4. Food and lifestyle The practitioners of pranayama are required to lead the healthy lifestyle and discipline in the dietary habits. The moderation in quantity and quality of the food plays a prominent roe in the success of the practice.
Types of Pranayama
The classical texts explain the following eight pranayama. They are of dynamic as well as tranquillizing in nature. Nadi sodhana is the preparation for the practice
1. Surya Bhedana - Right nostril breath
2. Ujjayi - Victorious breath / psychic breath
3. Sitkari - Cooling breath
4. Shitali - Cooling breath
5. Bhramari - Humming bee breath
6. Bhastrika - Bellows breath
7. Murchha - Swooning or fainting breath
8. Plavini - Gulping breath
Health Benefits
Health benefits of pranayama
The sustained practice of pranayama with all necessary preparations brings numerous health benefits. Few of them are as follows.
1. Improves digestion: The rhythmic massage during pranayama on the abdominal muscles and diaphragm improves the efficiency in digestive organs contributing for better absorption and assimilation of the nutrients.
2. The reduction of impurities brings the purification of the mind and body.
3. One - pointedness developed on account purified mental essence helps to enhance the concentration, memory, attention and other cognitive abilities
4. Increases lung capacity, this is helpful for the exchange of the gases.
5. Brings balance in the disorders in Dosha and Dhatus of the body resulting in the good health.
6. Enhances the vital energy of the practitioners which is helpful for dynamism.
7. It develops the stable autonomic nervous system with slight dominance of parasympathetic activity.
8. Effective in relaxation of mind and emotions as well as stress management.
9. Improved blood circulation in the practice harmonizes the functions of the endocrinal and biochemical secretions.
10. Stimulates the metabolism.
11. Therapeutically useful in the treatment of the diseases like mood swings, depression, insomnia, hypertension, cough, cold and other respiratory disorders
12. It is the preparation for the higher Yoga practices such as concentration and meditation techniques.

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