The breath which enters our body from without (outside) is called ‘Shwas’ or inhalation of air, and that which goes out from our body is called or exhalation (Prashawas). Breath is the life force or vital force or still better the sustaining force of our body. As long as we breathe in and breath out we are alive but when the breath or air leaves our body, for good, we lose the thread of life.
Hence, proper balance between inhalation, retention and exhalation forms the very basis of our life (Jeevan). Death is nothing other than the existence of this process. It is also subtly called ‘Prana’. Pranayama is divided into the process stages.
- Poorak : The term implies inhalation of air (breath) or inspiration.
- Kumbhak : It means withholding of breath.
- Rechak : The term is indicative of exhalation of breath.
Read More :
- Introduction to Pranayama Breathing – Types of Pranayama
- Benefits of Pranayama
- Explain Yogic Breathing with its Benefits
- Explain the technique of Nadi Sodhna Pranayama with its benefits
- Five Elements (Pancha Bhoota) – Air, Space, Water, Fire & Earth
Procedure of Pranayama
It is, in fact, a practice for complete respiration. Sit in Padmasana or Sukhasana (lotus pose). Keep your spinal cord erect. Inhale fresh air through the nose, filling your abdomen with the air. When the abdomen is full (by inhalation of air) and bloated, retain the breath as long as you can, without suffocating, choking, tiring or straining yourself. Now slowly exhale the air.
While inhaling the lungs would contract and the abdomen bloat but, when air is exhaled the abdomen will squeeze and lungs expand. Entire process is called the respiratory process. Ratio between all the three stages (Poorak, Kumbhak and Rechak) should preferably be 1:2:1 but there are no hard and fast rules for observance of the delineated guidelines, as every person is a law unto himself. Pranayam can be done even while you are walking, moving one foot or in vehicle, sitting in a chair (preferably easy chair), lying down or standing.
The only common factor of utmost importance being that the air inhaled must be fresh and pure. If pranayama is done in a choked, smoky, dusty, polluted and toxic environs it will cause harm only and there is no wonder you may expose your body to various serious disorders.
How To Do Pranayama
Our nose has two nostrils, the left one is called ‘Chandra Nari’ and the right one is called ‘Surya Nari’. One denotes cool and the other heat, one is active at night while the other is active during the day. When we inhale the breath is cold but, when exhaled, it is hot.
There are certain ascites who can easily forecast the time of a person from the determination of breathing process, time and speed of breathing as, after all it is the breath which is the vital force of our body. Moon and sun are the basic determining factors of our moods, climatic changes in nature, world events, lives of all persons, etc. First of all breathe through one nostril only, closing the other with the index finger of your hand.
Now retain the breath as long and as conveniently you can. Thereafter slowly breathe out the air through the other nostril which you had closed with your finger. Before you exhale, the nostril through which you have breathed should be closed. After a reasonable pause, now follow the same process from the other nostril. Inhalation and breathing processes should be slow and uniform.
As already discussed, pranayama aims at fortifying, sustaining and nurturing vital forces of the body. It is connected more with our mental faculties than physical. It corrects various, if not all physical disorders, by training the mind in such a way that the body is rendered strong enough to take the oddities and abnormalities of life and other upsets in normal stride and upheavals and disturbances fail to have any impact on the body.
It removes defects and abnormalities, pertaining to eyes, senses of hearing smelling, touch, speech, and purifies blood, normalises breathing process, tones up digestive organs, improves appetite, activates functioning of secretory glands, retards old age, takes away all evil feelings sublimates mental faculties.
Above all it provides peace (mental), sense of satisfaction, happiness and bliss. In our humble opinion, if you are not able or do not wish to perform any asana, you should daily do pranayam practice which would elevate your spirits and make you a happier person. It will give new life and energy to your blood and regulate its function.
When blood circulation is normal and every organ is supplied with pure blood, there can hardly be any chance of any diseases.