Yoga: Benefits of Pranayama
Article by Rajiv Deepak
Summary: Rajiv Deepak writes about importance of breathing exercises. He writes about types of Pranayama and tangible and intangible benefits of Pranayama.
One of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is Pranayama.
Pranayam is made up of two words Prana + Ayam.
Prana is the vital force present in whole cosmos. We have been provided Prana, the supreme source of energy by the creator. Proper utilisation of this free source of energy can make remarkable changes to our physical and mental health, vitality and self confidence. Prana is more subtle than air and can be defined as the energy essence that is within everything in the universe.Ayama means to control or to give a rhythm or a definite flow.
In this sense Pranayama may be defined as a process and technique through which vital energy can be stimulated and increased and this brings about perfect control over the flow of Prana within the body. Pranayama locks the scattering of pranic energy, consolidates it at the centre of your body-mind complex and laser-beams it to an intense awareness of the self. In simple language Pranayam can be said to be the right form of breathing technique to control our energy.
Breathing Technique: We can train ourselves to breathe more slowly and more deeply. We can reduce our breathing rate from about fifteen breaths a minute to 5-6 breaths a minute. Reduced breathing rate leads to slowing down the heart rate as more oxygen can be pumped even with less number of breaths. Time of exhalation should be longer than that of inhalation in the breath cycle.
Types of Pranayama:1. Bhastrika Pranayama2. Kapal Bhati Pranayama3. Baghi Pranayama4. Anulom Vilom Pranayama5. Bhramari Pranayama6. Udgeet Pranayama
Most of us are not well aware of tangible and intangible benefits of Pranayama. All benefits of pranayama cannot be written down, few of them are listed below:-
Healthy Heart: Heart is the key organ of our body which beats about 70 times per minute to pump blood non-stop all your life. The health of your heart indicates our life expectancy and quality of life in old age. More oxygen in the blood means more oxygen to muscles of the heart.
Better Blood Circulation: As a result of better breathing techniques, the freshly oxygenated blood travels from lungs to the heart. The heart pumps it via arteries and blood vessels to every part of the body, where in turn is absorbed by every tissue and cell. This improves the blood circulation and more oxygen energy reaches all parts of your body.
Stress Management: Pranayama is an excellent stress relief technique. Pranayama practice provides freedom from negative thought, anger, depression, lasciviousness, greed for money, arrogance etc. With pranayama fluctuations of mind are controlled and it prepares the mind for meditation. With practice of pranayama, we can experience lightness of body, feeling of inner peace, better sleep, better memory and better concentration whereby improving the spiritual powers/ skills. Mental peace and clarity of thought occur in our mind. Cheerfulness and enthusiasm is increased in life.
Functioning of Body Organs: By practice of pranayama all body organs gets more oxygen, toxins are removed from body; therefore onset of various diseases is prevented. Better functioning of autonomic system improves the working of lungs, heart, diaphragm, abdomen, intestines, kidneys and pancreas. Digestive system improves and diseases pertaining to digestive organs are cured with good appetite. General irritability due to lethargy/ fatigue vanishes. Pranayama strengthens the immune system. Pranayama reduces wear and tear of internal organs.
Longevity and Quality of Life in Old Age: Higher the breath rate, lower the life of creature in the world. Dog and monkey have higher breathing rate and lower life in contrast with elephant and tortoise taking four to five breaths in a minute and it lives up to 200 years or more. As a person with sedentary lifestyle reaches middle age, lung tissues tend to grow less and less elastic and lung capacity decreases. Pranayama can help to reduce the effects of following old age problems.
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