Ignite a Spark of Vitality
Pranayama is an ancient Indian practice of using breath to soothe the variation of ‘chitta’ or mind. The term “Pranayama’ is composed of two words -prana (energy) and ayama (management). Pranayama, in simple words, is nothing but energy management through sun, air, water, and food.
In this universe, we have two sources of free energy; sun and air. They are called higher sources. Two other paid sources of energy are water and food. The fifth source is space. Resting in the night-time lowers the temperature and respiratory rate thus lowering our energy. Pranayama uses energy of the sun and air increases the temperature and respiratory rate, thereby preparing us for the day ahead.
Our lungs work hard; not 24/7 but 24/365 – even when we are resting. They transport oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. An average adult breathes 12 to 20 times a minute, while at a resting position. That translates to 23,040 breaths a day or nearly 8.5 million times a year (according to American Lung Association).
There are six types of Pranayama which are detailed below:
- Bhastrika Pranayama (bellowed breathing):
Breathe in deeply through your nostrils, allowing the lungs to expand thereby forcing the abdomen out. Breathe out quickly through your nostrils. This results in the chest deflating and abdomen shrinking as the lungs collapse. The process of exhaling has to be faster than inhaling. Continue the process for five minutes.
- Kapalbhati Pranayama (shining forehead breathing):
Inhale through the nostrils normally until your lungs are full. The inhalation has to be slow but unforced. Exhale through the nostrils forcefully. Exhaling should take less time than inhaling. Do 15 repetitions.
- AnulomVilomPranayam (alternate nostril breathing):
Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Inhale slowly through the left nostril, allowing the lungs to expand and forcing your abdomen out. Remove the thumb from your right nostril. Keep the lungs full of air. Use your ring and middle fingers to close the left nostril. Exhale slowly and completely with the right nostril. Feel the chest deflating and abdomen shrinking as the lungs collapse. When finished with exhaling, keep your left nostril closed. Inhale through the right nostril and fill your lungs. Close the right nostril and open the left. Breathe out slowly through the left nostril. This is one round. Repeat the same 15 times.
- BahyaPranayam (external breathing):
Inhale deeply through your nose. Exhale forcefully. Touch your chin to the chest and suck in your stomach completely. Hold this position and your breath for as long as is comfortable. Lift your chin and breathe in slowly. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
- BhramariPranayam (bee breathing):
Close your eyes. Place the thumbs in your ears; the index fingers above your eyebrows; each pinky finger near a nostril. Breathe in deeply through the nose. Breathe out through the nose while humming. Repeat 3 times.
- Udgeeth Pranayama (chanting breathing):
Breathe in deeply through the nose. Exhale very slowly while saying Om (AUM). Keep the AU long and M short (AUUUUMM). Repeat 3 times.