THE MEANING OF PRANAYAMA
The meaning of pranayama is prana+ayama. Prana means the life force and ayama is its control. So Pranayama means controlling the breathing process (the life force).
In allopathy, ‘virus’ is considered to be the main cause of illness, in naturopathy, it is ‘antigens’ and in Ayurveda, it is ‘ama rasa’ (the undigested chyle that remains in the body when the food is not properly digested). Similarly, in ‘Prana Therapy’, the chief cause of the disease is considered to be a weak prana. A weak prana weakens the organs of the body and they fail to function properly. Blood circulation in the body depends on this prana; therefore, it’s weakening, in turn, slows down the process of blood circulation. With the blood supply becoming low, the body cells gradually become weak and die; and when the heart doesn’t get enough blood supply, toxic elements build up inside the body producing different diseases.
Even in practical life, one can see that a person with a strong life force is less prone to diseases as compared to one with a weak life force. By practicing pranayama, the yogis of India used to live a healthy life over thousands of years, a fact mentioned in several scriptures of Sanatana Dharma. In yoga therapy, medicines are thought to be an external treatment, whereas pranayama is considered an internal treatment, and so is termed as the basic medicine.
The Jabalyopanishad says that pranayama is the destroyer of all affliction.
The life force is present in different amounts in different parts of the body. A disease is cured by moving the life force from where it is high in the body to where it is low. Pranayama has a very important role in awakening the dormant powers in the body and in developing the life force.
v Benefits of Pranayama:
(1) Deep inhalation during pranayama opens the closed pores of the lungs and increases resistance to diseases. It also helps purify the blood, the veins, and the mind.
(2) A regular practice of 10 pranayamas during each of the three sandhyas for forty days increases cheerfulness, improves the health and also sharpens the memory.
(3) The practice of pranayama destroys sins. As hard work destroys poverty, so also pranayama destroys sins.
v THE CHIEF PARTS OF PRANAYAMA
(1) Rechaka : Exhalation
(2) Puraka : Inhalation
(3) Kumbhaka : Holding the breath. To hold the breath inside is called antarakumbhaka and to hold it outside is called bahirkumbhaka.
HOW TO DO ANULOM VILOM PRANAYAMA OR NADISODHAN PRANAYAMA
Anuloma Viloma Pranayama
Sit in Padmasana, Siddhasana or Sukhasana. First of all, exhale completely through both the nostrils. Then close the right nostril with the right thumb, and with ease, take a deep breath through the left nostril. Hold the breath inside for as long as you can. Close the left nostril with the middle finger and slowly exhale through the right nostril. Exhale completely, and then hold the breath outside for as long as you can comfortably do so by closing both the nostrils. Then inhale through the right nostril and after holding it in for some time exhale slowly through the left. Hold the breath outside for some time after exhaling completely. That completes one Pranayama.
- In Pranayama, the time proportion for inhalation, retention, exhalation and staying without breath should be in the ratio of 1:4:2:2, i.e. if you take 5 seconds to inhale, then hold it in for 20 seconds, exhale over a period of 10 seconds, and stay with your lungs empty for 10 seconds. This is the ideal ration, which can gradually be attained through regular practice.