Importance of Pranayama
Pranayama is one of the most important aspects of yoga. It refers to the Prana, which is the force that gives us life. For yogis, the Prana is very important since it is the energy that brings us to life. Beyond giving life, it is the link that connects your mind with its conscious state.
To control the Prana, you use Pranayama. These are a series of techniques to stimulate your breathing. The breathing functions are considered of most importance for aliving since it is impossible to continue life without breath.
But just breathing is not enough for yoga practice. You must learn how to do it right. When you are untrained, you just breath uncontrollably. But once you get involved with pranayama techniques, you will learn how to get control of your breath, which leads to healing and self-control.
The Different Types of Pranayama
There are different techniques when it comes to pranayama. Each yoga stream has different approaches, but all of them are meant for the same porpoises. The most popular types of Pranayama techniques are:
- Kapalabhati Pranayama (breathing with your skull)
- Kumbhaka Pranayama (the retention of breath)
- Mrigi Mudra Pranayama (or the seal of the deer)
- Mula Bandha (the bond to your roots)
- Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (to clean the breathing channels)
- Shitali Pranayama (the cool technique)
- Simhasana Pranayama (or the lion position)
- Surya Bhedana Pranayama (breathing with one nostril)
- Svara Pranayama (the sound of your breath)
- Ujjayi Pranayama (to conquer your breath)
- Viloma Pranayama (or the paused inhalation)
Benefits of Pranayama
Once you master the arts of pranayama, there are many good things that come along with it. The most important benefits include:
- Bringing more oxygen to your bloodstream and improve its circulation.As a consequence, your heart works better than before.
- Learning how to reduce your breath rate.
- Reduces feelings of depression or anger
All these benefits are a combination of the pranayama techniques and the yoga philosophy. Of course, it all starts with pranayama, but that is not the only thing to consider. To practice yoga as a whole is going to improve all aspects of your life.
Techniques to Practice Pranayama
Get prepared for Pranayama as we explain in our section “Steps to do Pranayama.” Then, select one of the techniques you want to perform. Here are few details on some of them.
- To perform the Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, cover your right nostril with your right hand. Then, inhale from the left side. On the second’s step, cover your left nostril with your left hand and exhale from the right side.
- The Shitali Pranayama started with your mouth opened and shaped like an O as you inhale. Take the air out through your nose.
- For the Ujjayi Pranayama, you must open your mouth and take deep inhalations and exhalations. As you are doing it, close your through until you listen the sound of the ocean. On the next breath, close your mouth as you still restrict your throat. Then breath. Alternate the breathes between your mouth and nose.
Precautions when you practice Pranayama
The most important thing when you practice pranayama is your posture. You must ensure your back is straight in such a way that your neck and spine are in a perpendicular position to the floor. With a bad position, you will not be able to perform any pranayama technique correctly.
Before you start, make sure you have an empty stomach. Then proceed.
Steps to do Pranayama
Each Pranayama technique has different steps. However, most of them have the same basic steps to start as follows:
- Get to a comfortable position, preferably sitting down with your legs crossed.
- Clear your mind and relax. As you do this, take consciousness of your breath. This step should take you around 5 breathing cycles.
- Feel how the air is moving around you and filling your lunges. Take consciousness of your surroundings.
- Breath according to the type of pranayama you want to perform. Check them out on our section “Techniques to Practice Pranayama.”
- Repeat each pranayama exercise at least ten times.
Only few pranayama requires a different position, and therefore different steps.