Pranayama is control of Breath. Prana is Breath or vital energy within the body. On subtle levels, prana signifies the pranic energy accountable for life or the life force, and ayama means control. So Pranayama is Control of Breath. You can control the rhythms of pranic energy with pranayama and reach healthful mind and body. Patanjali in his text of Yoga Sutras mentioned pranayama as a means of achieving higher states of consciousness, He mentions the holding of the breath because of the important practice of reaching Samadhi. Hatha Yoga also talks about 8 types of pranayama that will make the mind and body healthy.
Five types of prana are responsible for various pranic activities in the body, they are Prana, Apana, Vyan, Udana & Samana. Out of those Prana and Apana are the most significant. Prana is upward flowing and Apana is downward flowing. The practice of Pranayama accomplishes the balance in the activities of those pranas, which results in healthful mind and body.
TYPES OF PRANAYAMA
- Natural Breathing
- Thoracic breathing
- Basic Abdominal breathing
- Clavicular breathing
- Yogic breathing
- Deep breathing with ratios
- Fast breathing
Natural breathing is essentially breath awareness. It’s the starting place of working with the breath. It allows us to understand how we’re breathing and our breathing patterns. It’s calming, soothing, can be practiced at any moment and is the basic starting point of meditation.
Sit in a comfortable posture. The body is stable, the shoulders are relaxed, the chest is open and the eyes softly closed. Become aware of the breath. Notice if it’s shallow or deep. Notice which part of the body is moving, your abdomen or your chest. Notice if there’s all sound with the breath. Try to focus just on the breath. Try to become aware of the temperature of the breath. When the air is inhaled it’s a little cool, when it’s exhaled it’s a little warmer. Notice the difference. Notice if the breath is becoming smoother and deeper. Notice if there’s any strain.
Be aware only of the breath. Now attempt to become more aware of the breath entering the nostrils. Focus just on the nostrils. Now notice the breath flowing towards the lungs. Focus just on that area. Now concentrate on the lungs, only on the lungs. Now try to follow the air flowing from the nostrils and down into the lungs. Follow the breath with the inhalation and expiration. Try to focus just on the breath. Continue with this practice for so long as is comfortable.
BASIC ABDOMINAL BREATHING
This type of breathing is done combined with nasal breathing in periods of fantastic stress like strong bodily exertion or obstructive airways issues like asthma or emphysema. The upper ribs and collar bones are pulled upward by the sternum and neck and this permits more air into the lungs. In yoga, we only use it alone to create consciousness and after that afterward, combine it with thoracic and abdomen breathing to form yogic breathing.
This involves the use of the abdomen, chest and clavicular region. It might also be practiced before other breathing methods. It enables one to have maximum inhalation and exhalation. It can be along with deep breathing (using a ratio).
Begin with normal breathing, ideally abdomen or yogic breathing, bringing consciousness to the motion of the abdomen and the chest. Inhale deeply and smoothly in counts (use a timer, metronome, clock or rely on your head, a wonderful way is to say 1 aum, 1 aum etc) in compliance with the ratio you’re following (see below). Exhalation smoothly in the required counts. Continue this procedure. Be knowledgeable as to the abdomen rising and falling with the breath. Return to normal breathing. Practice another around if desired.
Kinds of Fast Breathing:
Type1: Inhaling and exhaling through both nostrils.
Type2: Close the right nostril and inhale and exhale throughout the nostril.
Type 3: Close the left nostril and inhale and then exhale through the right nostril.
Type 4: Inhale through the left nostril and exhale throughout the right nostril.
Type 5: Inhale throughout the right nostril and exhale throughout the nostril.
Type 6: Inhale through the left nostril, exhale throughout the right, inhale to the right and then left.
Begin with typically breathing, bringing consciousness to the motion of the abdomen and the chest. Place the right hand and bring the hand to the lips. Block the nostril depending upon the fast breathing type being done. Begin inhalation and exhalation, building up speed. Practice fast inhalations and exhalations, about 30 times is sufficient when pregnant. Reduce the rate and return to normal breathing. Ensure that the body remains relaxed and steady throughout the custom.