How to unleash the potential of the mind with pranayama?

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It is the practice of consistent breathing with a focus and concentrated mind. This exercise’s main motto is to integrate and narrow down the concentration of the mind solely on breathing and infuse the body with oxygen so that the flow of Prana is the life energy, and it is free and clears all physical and emotional obstacles.  

There are a lot of factors responsible for life existence on this Earth. We explored a drop of it, while there is still more to be known. Some include external factors like the weather, demographic features, etc., while some stuck within the cage of the human skeleton.

According to yogic Gurus, humans consist of 7 chakras or spinning wheels, which resemble the personality, desires, fear symptoms, etc., in a human being. They believe that when energy gets blocked into any of these chakras, it creates imbalance and breaks the homeostasis in our body leading to impatience, anxiety, chronic ailments, and poor digestion. However, yoga helps to proportionate the energy flow through these chakras, thus maintaining peace and integrity in our body-mind-universe. 

Pranayama is a branch of many yogic lineages that solely focus on breathing techniques to integrate our mind and body. The classical posture of pranayama is practising deep inhalation-exhalation while seated in a straight posture with legs crisscrossed, closed eyes, and hands on the knees. It also prepares our body for meditation and other yogic postures. 

BENEFITS OF PRANAYAMA: 

We have different energy channels or Nadiand if they get blocked, it can affect other functions of the body. Through breathing and other meditative asanas, we can maintain the free flow of Prana or the life force through those channels. 

  • Improved respiratory efficiency through deep breathing is now a well-documented fact. The lung circulation and lung ventilation ratio is to improve through the consistent practice of pranayama.
  • The pulling upwards by the exercise of the peritoneal muscles keeps the thoracic diaphragm pushed up to a high level, thereby reducing the dead space volume of the lungs.
  • Pranayama exercise brings integration of involuntary(ANS) mechanisms and also improves postural tones and balances with higher cortical centres under voluntary control. 
  • It involves a lot of attention and concentration of mind followed by an initiation of a relaxed emotional state. 
  • By practising a few pranayama breathing, the CO2 level in the exhaled air will increase. The rise gradually helps a person to get accustomed to a higher concentration of CO2 in the blood. 
  • It increases the vital capacity of the lungs.
  • During Kumbhaka Uddiyana or Jalandhara Bandha, there is a slowing down of heart rate.
  • The Asanas are primarily involved with postural reflexes, mediated by the subcortical centres. The more you practice, the less would be thalamocortical circuit’s involvement through ascending reticular systems. 
  • The upside-down postures in yoga asanas help the flow of blood towards the head. And they are also supposed to aid in the proper positioning of the viscera, which often show signs of visceroptosis, hernia.
  • A relaxed state of skeletal muscles in some yoga asanas, when abdominal pressure is consciously raised by 10-80 mm Hg, is presumed to have a good effect on blood circulation to the viscera or remote internal areas of the body. 

DIFFERENT POSTURES OF PRANAYAMA: 

According to hatha yoga (a branch of yoga that includes asanas, mudras, pranayama, etc.), pranayama is classified into eight divisions. Here’s a clear discussion of how to do pranayama. 

SURYABHEDANA: 

The name comes from the Sanskrit word Surya means sun. The practice involves inhalation through the right nostril, which passes through the Pingala or Surya Nadicausing a heating effect on the body and enhances Agni.

HOW TO DO IT?  

  • Sit in a comfortable place with a padmasana position. Back erect head lower and chin resting in the notch between the collarbones that is jalandhara bandha 
  • Bring the right arm at elbow point, bend index and middle finger, and the ring and little finger near the thumb. [nasagra mudra]
  • Place the thumb over the right nostril and ring and little finger over the left nostril
  • Close both the nostrils simultaneously withhold in breath in Mula bandha.
  • The cycle is repeated for required times.

BENEFITS: 

  • Purification of vitiation of sinuses, alleviation of Vata,  destruction of krimi.
  • It soothes the nervous system and energise the body 
  • It enhances digestive power and generates a heating effect in the body.

UJJAI PRANAYAMA:  

The term ut means superior, Jaya means victory. Ujjayi is a process in which the lungs are fully expanded and the chest puffed out like a proud conqueror. It pacifies Kapha, enhances Agni. It can be performed at any time in any posture.

HOW TO DO IT? 

  • Sit in a comfortable place position with your back straight.
  • Perform jalandhara bandha. 
  • Close eyes and exhale fully.
  • Inhale slowly through both the nostrils so that the inhaled air is felt on the roof of the palate. 
  • Perform kumbhaka by doing Mula bandha. 
  • Exhale slowly and steadily through the left nostril. 
  • Repeat 5 to 10 minutes. 

BENEFITS: 

  • Improves lung capacity
  • It Soothes nerves, thus reduces anxiety.
  • Best for coronary troubles and high blood pressure. 

SITKARI PRANAYAMA: 

The proper practice destroys laziness, enhances body strength, and destroys all complications.

HOW TO DO IT?

  • Sit in a comfortable place, virasana pose, back straight, and lips slightly parted. 
  • Try to keep the tongue straight and the tip of the tongue between the teeth.   
  • Draw fresh air in with sound and fill the lungs.
  • Perform kumbhaka in jalandhara bandha. 
  • Exhale slowly through the nose
  • Repeat: 5 to 10minutes. 

BENEFITS: 

  • It cools the system, soothes the eyes and ears.
  • Beneficial in fever and bitter taste in the mouth.
  • Stimulate the functioning of the liver and spleen.

SITALI PRANAYAMA:

This technique includes inhalation through the mouth and exhalation through nostrils. Sitali pranayama benefits by destroying the abdominal tumours, splenomegaly, fever, appetite, and aggravated pitta. 

HOW TO DO IT? 

  • Sit in a comfortable place with a padmasana position. 
  • Open the mouth in the shape of “O” 
  • The sides and tips of the tongue should touch the teeth and roll the tongue and draw the air through the rolled tongue with the sound till the lungs is filled with air. 
  • Inhale with jalandhara bandha– hold for few moments with Mula bandha– exhale slowly through the nose with an aspirant sound. 
  • Repeat: 5 to 10minutes. 

BENEFITS: 

  • Beneficial in low fever.
  • Activates liver, thereby improving digestion. 

BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA: 

The Sanskrit word “bhastrika” means bellow, commonly used by blacksmiths for melting metals. This pranayama is done for cleansing and toning the body through breathing.

HOW TO DO: 

  • Sit in a comfortable place in vajrasana pose.
  • Take fast and vigorous breaths and exhale quickly and forcefully. The sound resembles air rushing through bellows.
  • At a stretch, you can complete 10 to 12 cycles. Then slowly follow inhalation-exhalation and retain the breath in Mula bandha and exhale slowly. 

BENEFITS: 

Stimulates spleen, liver, pancreas, and abdominal organs.

PRECAUTIONS: 

  •  People with a weak constitution or inadequate lung capacity.
  •  People with high or low blood pressure.
  •  In conditions of bleeding through nose or ears. 

BHRAMARI PRANAYAMA: 

The practitioners get the feeling of pleasantness. When practised, a humming sound is made like a large black bee (bhramara). 

HOW TO DO IT?

  • Sit in a comfortable place and vajrasana pose.
  • Perform jalandhara bandha.
  • Close the eyes and look inwards
  • Inhale fully, slowly, and steadily
  • Hold the breath with Mula bandha.
  • Exhale slowly with making a humming sound like a black bee
  • Repeat: 5 to 10minutes. 

BENEFITS: 

  • It helps to cure insomnia.
  • It relieves stress, anger and anxiety.
  • It reduces blood pressure.
  • It improves voice and throat ailments.

MURCHA PRANAYAMA: 

Murcha pranayama is practised to ensure focus and concentration in our mind and body. It is not recommended to everyone. People with shoulder injuries or weak constitution are not advised to practice this. 

HOW TO DO IT? 

  • Sit in a comfortable place in vajrasana pose  
  • Inhale slowly through the nostrils and move your head backwards, keeping your face perpendicular to the sky.
  • Retain the breath in Mula bandha
  • Exhale slowly while restoring to the initial position.
  • Repeat: 5 to 10minutes. 

BENEFITS:

  • It prepares the body and mind for meditation.
  • Raises the level of Prana and alleviates anxiety, tension, anger, etc.

PLAVINI PRANAYAMA: 

Through this practice of pranayama, a person consumes air as we drink water and fills the stomach with air, and a sense of floating is felt. Not everyone can perform this asana. It is not advised for post-operative cases, patients with hernias or severe abdominal ailments. 

HOW TO DO IT? 

  • Sit in a comfortable place and vajrasana position.
  • Now, take a deep breathe to fill the air in the lungs and abdomen. Make sure not to pressurise your heart.
  • With a complete inhalation, hold the air inside to create buoyancy in the body with jalandhara bandha. 
  • Release the air slowly and bring the head back to its initial position.

BENEFITS: 

  • Enhances capacity to swim.
  • Improves digestion.
  • It removes toxins from the body.

CONCLUSION: 

Oxygen is one of the primary needs for the survival and primary metabolisms of human and living beings. Lack of oxygen throughout the body leads to toxicity and blockage of energy channels. Also, lung health is an essential concern nowadays. Suggested yogas by experts can help anyone to build a sound body. 

Keywords: murcha pranayama, plavini pranayama, pranayama exercise, nadi, asanas, pranayama ujjayi, how to do pranayama. 

ARTICLE BY: ISHITA

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