Pranayama : breathing control Kriya inhale, exhale, purak, rechak, kumbhak

Our breathing is involuntary action. It occurs automatically, spontaneously, naturally. Though it is simple and obvious we often take it for granted, ignoring the power it has to affect body, mind and spirit. Slowly we develop unhealthy and wrong habits of breathing without being aware of it.

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Today our breathing is too shallow and too quick. We are not taking in sufficient oxygen and we are not eliminating adequate toxics.

Breathing is the only means to supply our bodies and its various organs with the supply of oxygen which is vital for our survival and purifies the blood stream, removes waste products and toxins from the body. Breathing also affects our state of mind. It can make us excited or calm, tense or relaxed. It (oxygen) is essential for the integrity of the brain, nerves, glands and internal organs. So deep and long breathing is the secret of vitality and rejuvenation. Yoga permits us to tap into this vital nutrient.

Pranayama is mainly a Kriya (exercise) with air. The Sanskrit word ’prana’ means breath or life force, while ‘ayama’ means regulation or control. Pranayama is a scientific method of controlling the breath, leading to better health for both mind and body. Pranayama is the fourth part of the Astang Yoga (eight limbs) described by Patanjali in the Yogasutra, this is the most authoritative book on yoga. The eight limbs of yoga mentioned in Patanjali’s system are:

 Yama,  Niyama, Asana,  Pranayama,  Pratyahara, Dharana,  Dhyana and  Samadhi.

According to Patanjali, the sage who formulated the yogic principles, the practice of pranayama develops the power of concentration and clarity of thought. It also increases the mental and physical powers of endurance. 

As we know air possesses several unique qualities. It contains life force pran shakti. It also has absorbing activating and massaging capacity. Because of these qualities, the air is regarded as a great purifier as well as giver of life to the inner organs of the body. The body makes good use of these qualities of air during pranayama.

By controlling the prana, one can control all the forces of the universe such as gravity, magnetism, electricity and nerve currents. Thus prana refers to energy as the basis of all life. Thus the objective of Pranayama is to stimulate, communicate, regulate and control the vital life force that exists in the body. 

 

 Purak, Rechacka and Kumbhaka

 The breathing process chiefly involves two activities, viz., inhaling and exhaling. Of these the former is called “Puraka” and the latter “Rechaka”‘ in Yogashastra. The state when these two activities are made to halt is given the name “Kumbhaka” in Yoga Studies. The halt after inhaling, i.e., Puraka is called “Abhyantara Kumbhaka” and after exhaling, i.e. rechaka. It is called “Bahya Kumbhaka”.

 

Meanings of these three terms,

Purak : Inhalation of breath

Rechacka :Exhalation of breath

Kumbhaka : Retention of breath

 

Nadi Shodhan Pranayama: Nadi purifying Pranayama

Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Nadi purifying Pranayama) –

Balancing the Ida and Pingala, the mental force and vital force is one of the main objectives of Pranayama. Left nostril (Ida) and right nostril (Pingala) if balanced can awaken Sushumna (the psychic nadi or channel carrying kundalini) nadi. Swami Swatmarama recommends Nadi Shodhan Pranayama, (alternate nostril breathing with Kumbhaka and Bandhas) for purifying Ida Nadi and Pingala Nadi.

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Purification of  Nadis

Pranayama is Practice only after purifying Nadis. Nadis can be purified by practicing  ANULOM-VILOM Pranayama. A common learner must begin the practice of Pranayama with Anulomvilom. Being simple in nature, even common people also easily practice Anulomvilom Pranayama. It is a kind of  Nadi Shodhana, or the sweet breath, is simple form of alternate nostril breathing suitable for beginning and advanced students. Nadi means channel and refers to the energy pathways through which prana flows. Shodhana means cleansing — so Nadi Shodhana means channel cleaning.

Method of Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Nadi purifying Pranayama):

Sit down in Padmasana or Siddhasana. Close your right nostril with your right hands thumb and inhale through left nostril as long as you can easily inhale. When your lungs are full, close both the nostrils and hold the breath for some time. Then slowly exhale through the right nostril closing the left (use your ring and little finger). Thereafter close your left nostril and inhale through the right nostril and then closing both the nostril holds the breath in your body and ultimately exhale the breath through your left nostril. Thus you finish one cycle (Avartana) of veins purifying Pranayama. Practice three or four Avartanas daily and increase this practice slowly. Once practiced well, practice this Pranayama in the ratio of 1:2:2, That is inhale for four seconds; hold the breath for eight seconds and then exhale the breath in eight seconds. Increase this ratio slowly upto a ratio of 5:20:10.

Benefits of Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Nadi purifying Pranayama)

It’s an excellent method to perform Pranayama that does away with the lung’s diseases.

Through this Pranayama, the blood gets an increased amount of life giving oxygen that thoroughly cleans and purifies it, calms the mind, soothes anxiety and stress, balances left and right hemispheres, promotes clear thinking . It also purifies the  Arteries and veins, through which the blood flows in the body.

 

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