Pranayama with swami Ramdeo
Pranayama with swami Ramdeo
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.
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
Raja means “royal”. Raja Yoga is the path of Yoga that focuses on meditation and contemplation. It is based on the Eight Limbs of Yoga which was discussed in the Yoga Sutra. The Yoga Sutras are built on a foundation of Samkhya philosophy and the Bhagavad Gita. In the Yoga Sutras, Maharshi Patanjali prescribes adherence to eight “limbs” or steps (the sum of which constitute “Ashtanga Yoga”
This Yoga path teaches deep self respect through self mastery. The self here is honored. Raja Yoga believes that the universe exists for the self, giving the self an illusion of centrality which results to self respect and respect for all creatures.
Ashtanga Yoga – The Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga
The eight “limbs” or steps are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Some yogis categorized these eight steps into two groups. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, and Pratyahara comprise the first group. Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi belong to second group, called Samyama. This categorization is because of no cognizance present among Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
Though there is no cognizance to Dharana, Dhyana and Samadh, they are independent of time and sequence. The result is that they exist independently and also exist simultaneously. Any one, two or three can exist at the same time. When the three stages exist simultaneously then it is called Samyamah, the simultaneous existence.
The Yoga of Patanjali is Ashtanga or comprised of 8 limbs,
Yama / Niyama- are ethical obligations.
Asana- Postures of the body.
Pranayama – Control of prana or vital breath. Asana, Pranayama are breath control.
Pratyahara – Pratyahara is sense withdrawal.
Dharana – Dharana is fixing the attention on a single object; concentration.
Dhyana – Dhyana is meditation.
Samadhi – Samadhi the experience of unity with God (Super-conscious state or trance).
Telles S, Nagarathna R, Nagendra HR.
Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore, India.
This study was conducted to assess the physiological effects of a yoga breathing practice that involves breathing exclusively through the right nostril. This practice is called surya anuloma viloma pranayama (SAV). Twelve volunteers (average age 27.2 years +/- 3.3 years, four males) were assessed before and after test sessions conducted on two consecutive days. On one day the test session involved practicing SAV pranayama for 45 minutes (SAV session). During the test period of the other day, subjects were asked to breathe normally for 45 minutes (NB session). For half the patients (randomly chosen) the SAV session was on the first day and the NB session on the next day. For the remaining six patients, the order of the two sessions was reversed. After the SAV session (but not after the NB) there was a significant (P < .05, paired t test) increase in oxygen consumption (17%) and in systolic blood pressure (mean increase 9.4 mm Hg) and a significant decrease in digit pulse volume (45.7%). The latter two changes are interpreted to be the result of increased cutaneous vasoconstriction. After both SAV and NB sessions, there was a significant decrease in skin resistance (two factor ANOVA, Tukey test). These findings show that SAV has a sympathetic stimulating effect. This technique and other variations of unilateral forced nostril breathing deserve further study regarding therapeutic merits in a wide range of disorders.