Intro To Pranayama

INTRODUCTION TO PRANAYAMA

Pranayama is the Yogic Science of breath control. The word Pranayama is compound word made of two Sanskrit words: prana meaning life force (breath), and either yama (to restrain or control the prana) or the negative form ayāma, meaning to extend or draw out (as in extension or expansion of the life force). Prana can not be translated just as breath. Prana is “life giving breath”. Prana is the life force within and around us.

"Prana" is an immense amount of life giving source of energy and we can use the techniques of Pranayama to tap into that vast source. Through Hatha Yoga, the goal is to awaken the subtle energy channels so that the body and the mind can enjoy a state of equilibrium and deep sense of peace. Pranayama can help us in tapping into that energy body and open the subtle energy channels.

 

Time and Duration for Pranayama

It is always best to practice pranayama every day at the same time and same place (as much as possible). Although traditionally it has been recommended to practice pranayama four times a day and up to 80 cycles each time, this may seem a daunting task. We can start with practicing twice a day preferably during sunset and sunrise,  about 10 to 15 minutes each time.

 

Caution

It is important to measure what is an individual capacity by practicing to observe the duration of inhalations and exhalations. The goal is to increase that capacity over a long period of time slowly.

 

Few things to keep in mind while practicing pranayama

  • Pranayama is practiced on an empty stomach.
  • Techniques should be practiced seated cross legged (sukhasana), Lotus posture (Padmasana)  or in any other seated posture that is comfortable to the practitioner. The spine should be kept erect while practicing.
  • Breathing practices are to be done through the nose only, except in Shitali and Sheetkari techniques.
  • People suffering from diseases of the eye and ear,  like glaucoma, retinal detachment or ear infections should not attempt to hold their breath (avoiding Kumbhaka completely).