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Before we get into the technicalities of Yoga pranayama, let us have a look at some of the prerequisites we need to keep in Mind, before we start as well as during the practice in order to actually benefit the most from practicing pranayamas. Apart from the prerequisites listed in this article we also need to adhere to certain other considerations while doing the pranayama for enhancing its benefit. Very famous yoga master in palakkad Mr. Suresh Kumar PM is conducting Pranayama Classes in Palakkad, Kerala, India. Today Join in our Pranayama Classes in Palakkad for your Better tomorrow.
To start with prepare yourself for harmonizing the Prana within you via Yogic breathing by completely calming and decluttering your Mind. The mind needs to be conditioned or attuned to receiving Prana riding on the waves of your breath. A restless Mind or the Mind fazed with a volley of thoughts is incapable of doing the same.
For doing so sit in any Meditative posture, Sukhasana, Padmasana, Vajrasana, and close your eyes with the palms resting on the knees. In case you are unable to sit on the floor sit in a chair and follow all the other details as mentioned. Be in the present, concentrating your Mind on the blank between your eyebrows. You can also concentrate on the flow of your breath. Slowly remove all your thoughts one by one. Let the thoughts appear as clouds on the sky of your Mind and vanish, don't stick to them. Training the Mind on letting go off any attractions or irritants helps as good release for any unwanted thoughts, which enhances the impact of Pranayama.
No part of the body should be held tense during the pranayama practice. Keep the facial muscles relaxed. Any strain in any part of your body creates a blockage for the Prana to flow freely. Concentrate on the flow of your breath during the Pranayama practice. The flow of your breath, inhale and exhale, should be smooth and continuous, without any jerks.
The abdominal contour should be held taut as under normal conditions during Yogic breathing. Do not let the abdominal cavity distend while inhaling or contract while exhaling unless specified otherwise while doing pranayama.
The spine needs to be kept erect for this is through where the Prana will flow after being harmonized. The vital capacity of the lungs is the maximum when the spine is held erect. Also, a curved/ bent spine will obstruct the flow of the harmonized Prana through it. Thus during the entire Pranayama practice be aware of your posture, in particular, the position of the spine.
Practice Pranayama after at least four hours past any meal. Its advisable to evacuate your bowels and bladder before you start your Pranayama practice. Since all these conditions are present in the morning hours for most of us, morning is the best time for practicing pranayama.
Choose a calm and adequately ventilated place with free circulating air for your practice. Pranayama should not be performed in open with windy weather conditions. Avoid doing Pranayama in a moving vehicle too. Stability of the base of the body is an essential requirement for doing any kind of Pranayama. Avoid places where insects could be potential irritants.
The total number of rounds as recommended in a single sitting should not cross 30, and for each Pranayama the maximum number should be 10 rounds. Implement the concept of Matra, or time measure for executing the correct duration of a single round for different pranayama.
Always use a mat for your Pranayama practice, preferably made of natural fibers like cotton, wool, jute etc. and not the synthetic ones as the later interferes with the absorption of the negative ions from the earth's magnetic field, by the body, of which the Prana is supposedly composed of.
Do not forget to remove your spectacles in case you wear them before starting the Pranayama practice. The clothing should be loose and comfortable.
Concentrate on the points in your body as specified for each Pranayama throughout the practice. Do not ponder over how many more repetitions still needs to be done. Instead, try to savor the feeling being generated from performing the Pranayama that is in progress.
Pranayama has to be a calm and meditative experience for it to be effective. It is not a mechanical exercise at all.
"Pranayama is control of Breath". "Prana" is Breath or vital energy in the body. On subtle levels prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force, and "ayama" means control. So Pranayama is "Control of Breath".
One can control the rhythms of pranic energy with pranayama and achieve healthy body and mind. Patanjali in his text of Yoga Sutras mentioned pranayama as means of attaining higher states of awareness; he mentions the holding of breath as important practice of reaching Samadhi. Hatha Yoga also talks about 8 types of pranayama which will make the body and mind healthy.
Five types of prana are responsible for various pranic activities in the body, they are Prana, Apana, Vyan, Udana & Samana. Out of these Prana and Apana are most important. Prana is upward flowing and Apana is downward flowing. Practice of Pranayama achieves the balance in the activities of these pranas, which results in healthy body and mind.
As people have attraction towards Yogasanas, similarly they have attraction to Pranayama. The process of Pranayama is concerned with the breathing, the indicator of life. And therefore, if it is done wrongly, it may do harm to the person. This fear dissuades many from taking up Pranayama. The second reason for its unpopularity is the absence of teachers who can teach it scientifically. However, it is true that if one does Pranayama unscientifically, without proper guidance, one certainly suffers. But it does not mean that it is such a difficult process, that it cannot be done by a common man. On the contrary, if it is learnt and practiced under an expert's guidance, one learns soon and experiences the wonderful and even unimaginable benefits
In Patanjali's "Ashtanga yoga", Pranayama appears at the fourth stage. This means unless one observes Yama-Niyama and does Asanas well, he cannot reach this fourth stage. Even the Asanas discussed here are presented in their preliminary form. Therefore, for doing Pranayama, it is not enough to have done the Asanas as mentioned here. Even after learning these Asanas and having practiced them, one needs some preparation before actually taking up Pranayama. And an attempt is made to discuss that preparation. Actual Pranayama means the holding up of the process of exhaling and inhaling. And it is not possible to discuss or guide this serious aspect of Yogabhyasa in preliminary discussion. Therefore, as the preliminary exercises are discussed and which are to be done before the actual beginning of the Asanas: similarly, for Pranayama too, the preliminary exercises of breathing are designed and only this part is going to be discussed here.
Before examining the exercises of breathing it is necessary to understand the process of breathing. The breathing process chiefly involves two activities, viz., inhaling and exhaling. Of these the former is called "Puraka" and the latter "Rechaka"' in Yogashastra. These two activities continue non-stop right from the birth to the death of a person. 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". Two more types of Kumbhaka are mentioned. But instead of talking of them in detail, let us turn to the process of breathing.