Pranayama – The Science of Breathe
The word Pranayama is derived from two words of Sanskrit grammar ‘Prana’ and ‘Ayam’. The word Prana in Sanskrit is derived from the root ‘An’ with the prefix ‘Pra’. The ‘Un’ metal signifies vitality. Thus the word ‘Prana’ means the power of consciousness. The word ‘Ayama’ means to regulate. In this way, the method of controlling prana by regulation of external breathing, special breathing techniques to control prana and acquiring the ability to take subtle and long breaths, is called pranayama.
Maharishi Patanjali explained Pranayama in his book
तस्मिन् सति श्वास प्रश्वास योग वि विच्छेदः प्राणायामः (Yoga Sutra 2/49)
tasmin sati shvasaprashvasayorgativichchhedah pranayamah (Yoga Sutra 2.49)
Meaning: The regulation of the natural movement of breath and exhalation when the matter is stable, is Pranayama, says Patanjali. Through the practice of Pranayama, the veil of impermanence gets weakened and the ability to dharna comes.
The 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training in India explains the following Elements of Pranayama.
Pancha Prana – There are five major pranas in Pranayama which are known as Pancha Prana. These five pranas are Prana, Apana, Samana,
Udana, and Vyana.
Pancha Upaprana – Pancha Upaprana are the five supporting elements of pancha prana which are Naga, Kurma, Krikala, Devadatta, and
Natural and Yogic Breathe – Yogic way of breathing calms the nervous system and helps the mind the most. In this, the time of exhalation is
longer than inhalation.
Puraka, Rechaka and Kumbhaka – Maharishi Patanjali has mainly given three distinctions of Pranayama.
- Rechaka – It is the process of exhalation of breathing in Pranayama.
- Puraka – Puraka is inhalation of breathing in Pranayama.
- Kumbhaka – Kumbhaka is about retaining or holding the breath during the process of Pranayama. There are two types of Kumbhaka Pranayama,
Antara Kumbhaka – Also known as the inner Kumbhaka, it is the
retention of breath after inhalation.
Bahya or Bahir Kumbhaka – Also known as the outer Kumbhaka, it is the retention of breath after exhalation.
Nadi Shodhana – Nadis are the energy channels of the body. When one performs Nadi Shodana pranayama, nadis get purified and the prana
energy starts flowing in these channels.
Anulom Vilom – An alternate nostril breathing, Anulom Vilom is done to balance the life force energy or pranic energy.
Bhastrika – Bhastrika is a rapid pranayama process which involves fast inhalation and exhalation. The same round is repeated many times.
Ujjayi Pranayama – First of all sit in any meditative posture. Keep the waist and neck straight. Breathe through both nostrils by compressing
the throat so that the sound (like of a small child’s snort, waves) is produced slowly. After that, do Kumbhaka for as long as possible, then
make Pranava mudra of Pranayama and exhale slowly from the left nostril. Repeat this action over and over again. This is known as Ujjayi
Surya Bhedi – Suryabhedan is the first pranayama in Hathapradipika. It is right-nostril breathing. With the help of this pranayama, solar energy
gets activated in our bodies.
Chandra Bhedi – It is left-nostril breathing related to Chandra Nadi or the Moon Channel of the body. With the help of this pranayama, lunar
energy gets activated in our bodies.
Sheetali – It is also known as Cooling Breath. The meaning of Sheetali is that the meaning of saying coolness is that by doing this pranayama, the
body gets coolness. That is why it is called Sheetali Pranayama. This type of pranayama is like a tree providing plenty of oxygen. Also, the pranayama is beneficial in giving peace and coolness and so can be done in the
Sheetkari – The meaning of Sheetkari means coolness, which means something that cools our body and mind. When you do this type of pranayama, the sound of the word ‘Sheet’ has to come out of the mouth.
Bhramari – Bhramari Pranayam is a special method of breathing meditation in which sound like a bee is also practiced.