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PRANAYAMA AND ITS YOGIC IMPORTANCE
"Pranayama is control of Breath". "Prana" is Breath or vital energy in the body. On subtle levels prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force, and "ayama" means control. So Pranayama is "Control of Breath". One can control the rhythms of pranic energy with pranayama and achieve healthy body and mind.
Patanjali in his text of Yoga Sutras mentioned pranayama as means of attaining higher states of awareness, he mentions the holding of breath as important practice of reaching Samadhi. Hatha Yoga also talks about 8 types of pranayama which will make the body and mind healthy.
Five types of prana are responsible for various pranic activities in the body, they are Prana, Apana, Vyan, Udana & Samana. Out of these Prana and Apana are most important. Prana is upward flowing and Apana is downward flowing. Practice of Pranayama achieves the balance in the activities of these pranas, which results in healthy body and mind.
HATHA & RAJA YOGA VARIETIES
Some scholars distinguish between hatha and raja yoga varieties of pranayama, with the former variety usually prescribed for the beginner. According to Taimni, hatha yogic pranayama involves manipulation of pranic currents through breath regulation for bringing about the control of chitta-vrittis and changes in consciousness, whereas raja yogic pranayama involves the control of chitta-vrittis by consciousness directly through the will of the mind. Students qualified to practice pranayama are therefore always initiated first in the techniques of hatha pranayama
QUOTES ABOUT PRANAYAMA
Prana is a subtle invisible force. It is the life-force that pervades the body. It is the factor that connects the body and the mind, because it is connected on one side with the body and on the other side with the mind. It is the connecting link between the body and the mind. The body and the mind have no direct connection. They are connected through Prana only and this Prana is different from the breathing you have in your physical body.
– Swami Chidananda Saraswati
YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a foundational text of Yoga. It forms part of the corpus of Sutra literature dating to India's Mauryan period. In Indian philosophy, Yoga (also Raja Yoga to distinguish it from later schools) is the name of one of the six orthodox philosophical schools. Though brief, the Yoga Sutras are an enormously influential work on yoga philosophy and practice, held by principal proponents of yoga such as Iyengar (1993: p.xiii) as being of principal importance:
THE EIGHT LIMBS(ASTHANGA) OF RAJA YOGA
The eight "limbs" or steps prescribed in the second pada of the Yoga Sutras are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
Ashtanga yoga consists of the following steps: The first five are called external aids to Yoga (bahiranga sadhana)
Yama refers to the five abstentions. These are the same as the five vows of Jainism.
Ahimsa: non-violence, inflicting no injury or harm to others or even to one's ownself, it goes as far as nonviolence in thought, word and deed.
Satya: truth in word & thought.
Asteya: non-covetousness, to the extent that one should not even desire something that is not his own.
Brahmacharya: abstain from sexual intercourse; celibacy in case of unmarried people and monogamy in case of married people. Even this to the extent that one should not possess any unholy thoughts towards any other man or woman except one's own spouse. It's common to associate Brahmacharya with celibacy.
Niyama refers to the five observances
Shaucha: cleanliness of body & mind.
Santosha: satisfaction; satisfied with what one has..
Tapas: austerity and associated observances for body discipline & thereby mental control.
Svadhyaya: study of the Vedic scriptures to know about God and the soul, which leads to introspection on a greater awakening to the soul and God within,
Ishvarapranidhana: surrender to (or worship of) God.
Asana: Discipline of the body: rules and postures to keep it disease-free and for preserving vital energy. Correct postures are a physical aid to meditation, for they control the limbs and nervous system and prevent them from producing disturbances.
Pranayama: control of breath. Beneficial to health, steadies the body and is highly conductive to the concentration of the mind.
Pratyahara: withdrawal of senses from their external objects.
The last three levels are called internal aids to Yoga (antaranga sadhana)
Dharana: concentration of the citta upon a physical object, such as a flame of a lamp, the mid point of the eyebrows, or the image of a deity.
Dhyana: steadfast meditation. Undisturbed flow of thought around the object of meditation (pratyayaikatanata). The act of meditation and the object of meditation remain distinct and separate.
Samadhi: oneness with the object of meditation. There is no distinction between act of meditation and the object of meditation. Samadhi is of two kinds:
Samprajnata Samadhi conscious samadhi. The mind remains concentrated (ekagra) on the object of meditation, therefore the consciousness of the object of meditation persists. Mental modifications arise only in respect of this object of meditation.
This state is of four kinds:
Savitarka: the Citta is concentrated upon a gross object of meditation such as a flame of a lamp, the tip of the nose, or the image of a deity.
Savichara: the Citta is concentrated upon a subtle object of meditation , such as the tanmatras
Sananda: the Citta is concentrated upon a still subtler object of meditation, like the senses.
Sasmita: the Citta is concentrated upon the ego-substance with which the self is generally identified.
Asamprajnata Samadhi supraconscious. The citta and the object of meditation are fused together. The consciousness of the object of meditation is transcended. All mental modifications are checked (niruddha), although latent impressions may continue.
Hatha Yoga , also called Hatha Vidya , is a particular system of Yoga introduced by Yogi Swatmarama, a sage of 15th century India, and compiler of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. In this treatise Swatmarama introduces Hatha Yoga as 'a stairway to the heights of Raja Yoga', hence a preparatory stage of physical purification that renders the body fit for the practice of higher meditation. The Asanas and Pranayama in Raja Yoga were what the Hindu Yogis used to physically train their body for long periods of meditation. This practise is called shatkarma. The word Hatha is a compound of the words Ha and Tha meaning sun and moon referring to Praana and Apaana, and also to the principal nadis (energy channels) of the subtle body that must be fully operational to attain a state of dhyana or samadhi. According to the Monier Moneir-Williams Sanskrit Dictionary, the word "hatha" means forceful. It is a strong practice done for purification. In other respects Hatha yoga follows the same principles as the Raaja Yoga of Patanjali including moral restraint yama and spiritual observances niyama. Hatha Yoga is what most people in the West associate with the word "Yoga" and is practiced for mental and physical health throughout the West.
The most comprehensive text of Hatha Yoga is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Yogi Swatmarama. This work is nonetheless derived from older Sanskrit texts on Yoga besides Yogi Swatmarama's own yogic experiences. It includes information about shatkarma (purification), asana (postures), pranayama (breath control), chakras (centers of energy), kundalini (instinct), bandhas (muscle force), kriyas (techniques; manifestations of kundalini), shakti (sacred force), nadis (channels), and mudras (symbolic gestures) among other topics.
Traditionally, Lord Shiva is credited with propounding Hatha Yoga. It is said that on a lonely island, assuming nobody else would hear him, he gave the knowledge of Hatha Yoga to Goddess Parvati, but a fish heard the entire discourse, remaining still throughout. Lord Shiva took mercy on the fish (Matsya) and made him a siddha, who came to be known as Matsyendranaatha. Matsyendranaatha taught Hatha Yoga to Chaurangi, a limbless man who was given hands and feet by Matsyendranaatha just by looking at him. Hatha Yoga Pradipika mentions Adinaatha, Matsyendranaatha, Gorakhanaatah and many other yogis who became famous Hatha Yogis.
Many modern schools of Hatha Yoga derive from the school of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who taught from 1924 until his death in 1989. Among his students prominent in popularizing Yoga in the West were Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, famous for popularizing the vigorous Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga style, B.K.S. Iyengar who emphasizes alignment and the use of props, Indra Devi and Krishnamacharya's son T.K.V. Desikachar who developed the Viniyoga style. Desikachar founded the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai, with the aim of making available the heritage of yoga as taught by Krishnamacharya.
Another major stream of influence was Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh (1887-1963) and his many disciples, including Swami Vishnu-Devananda - founder of International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, Swami Satyananda - of the Bihar School of Yoga, and Swami Satchidananda - of Integral Yoga, among others.
QUESTIONS ABOUT PRANAYAMA
1) What is Prana?
He who knows Prana knows Vedas is the important declaration of the Srutis. You will find in Vedanta Sutras: For the same reason, breath is Brahman. Prana is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe. It is the sum total of all the forces in nature. It is the sum total of all latent forces and powers which are hidden in men and which lie everywhere around us. Heat, light, electricity, magnetism are the manifestations of Prana. All forces, all powers and Prana spring from the fountain or common source, ‘Atman’. All physical forces, all mental forces come under the category ‘Prana’. It is force on every plane of being, from the highest to the lowest. Whatever moves or works or has life, is but an expression or manifestation of Prana. Akasa or ether also is an expression of Prana. The Prana is related to mind and through mind to will, and through will to the individual soul, and through this to the Supreme Being. If you know how to control the little waves of Prana working through the mind, then the secret of subjugating universal Prana will be known to you. The Yogi who becomes an expert in the knowledge Of this secret, will have no fear from any power, because he has mastery over all the manifestations of powers in the universe. What is commonly known as power of personality is nothing more than the natural capacity of a person to wield his Prana. Some persons are more successful in life, more influential and fascinating than others. It is all due to the power of this Prana. Such people manipulate everyday, unconsciously of course, the same influence which the Yogi uses consciously by the command of his will. There are others who by chance tumble unaware of this Prana and use it for lower purposes under false names. This working of Prana is seen in the systolic and diastolic actions of the heart, when it pumps the blood into arteries in the action of inspiration and expiration during the course of breathing; in the digestion of food; in the excretion of urine and fecal matter; in the manufacture of semen, Chile, chime, gastric juice, bile, intestinal juice, saliva; in closing and opening of the eyelids, in walking, playing, running, talking, thinking, reasoning, feeling and willing. Prana is the link between the astral and physical body. When the slender thread-link Prana is cut off the astral body separates from the physical body. Death takes place. The Prana that was working in the physical body is withdrawn into the astral body.
This Prana remains in a subtle, motionless, unmanifested, undifferentiated state during the cosmic Pralaya. When the vibration is set up, Prana moves and acts upon Akasa, and brings forth the various forms. The macrocosm (Brahmanda) and microcosm (Pindanda) are combinations of Prana (energy) and Akasa (matter).
That which moves the steam-engine of a train and a steamer, that which makes the aeroplanes fly in air, that which causes the motion of the breath in lungs, that which is the very life of this breath itself, is Prana. I believe, you have now a comprehensive understanding of the term Prana about which you had a very vague conception in the beginning.
By controlling the act of breathing you can efficiently control all the various motions in the body and the different nerve-currents that are running through the body. You can easily and quickly control and develop body, mind and soul through breath-control or the control of Prana. It is through Pranayama that you can control your circumstances and character and can consciously harmonise the individual life with the cosmic life.
The breath, directed by thought under the control of the will, is a vitalising, regenerating force which you can utilise consciously for self-development; for healing many incurable diseases in your system; for healing others and for other various useful purposes.
It is within your easy reach at every moment of your life. Use it judiciously. Many Yogins of yore, like Sri Jnanadeva, Trailing Swami, Ramalinga Swami and others, had utilised this breath, this force, the Prana, in a variety of ways. You can also do so, if you practise Pranayama by prescribed breathing exercises. It is Prana that you are breathing rather than the atmospheric air. Inhale slowly and steadily with a concentrated mind. Retain it as long as you can do it comfortably. Then exhale slowly. There should be no strain in any stage of Pranayama. Realise the occult inner life-powers which underlie the breath. Become a Yogi and radiate joy, light and power all around you. Pranavadins or Hatha Yogins consider that Prana Tattva is superior to Manas Tattva, the mind-principle. They say, Prana is present even when the mind is absent during sleep. Hence Prana plays a more vital part than the mind. If you go through the parables in Kaushitaki and Chhandogya Upanishads, when all the Indriyas, mind and Prana fight amongst themselves as to their superiority, you will find that Prana is regarded as the highest of all. Prana is the oldest, for it starts its functioning from the very moment the child is conceived. On the contrary, the organs of hearing, etc., begin to function only when their special abodes, viz., the ears, etc., are formed. Prana is called Jyeshtha and Sreshtha (oldest and best) in Upanishads. It is through the vibrations of psychic Prana that the life of the mind, Sankalpa or thinking is kept up and thought is produced. You see, hear, talk, sense, think, feel, will, know, etc., through the help of Prana and therefore Srutis declare: Prana is Brahman.
2) Which are the seat of Prana ?
The seat of Prana is heart. Though the Antahkarana is one, yet it assumes four forms, viz., (i) Manas, (ii) Buddhi, (iii) Chitta and (iv) Ahamkara according to the different functions it performs. Likewise, though Prana is one, it assumes five forms viz., (1) Prana, (2) Apana, (3) Samana, (4) Udana and (5) Vyana according to the different functions it performs. This is termed as Vritti Bheda. The principal Prana is called Mukhya Prana. The Prana, joined with Ahamkara, lives in the heart. Of these five, Prana and Apana are the chief agents.
The seat of Prana is the heart; of Apana, the anus; of Samana, the region of the naval; of Udana, the throat; while Vyana is all-pervading. It moves all over the body.
3) Yoga Breathing (Pranayama) - What is Yoga Breathing?
Yoga breathing, or Pranayama, is the science of breath control. It consists of series of exercises especially intended to meet the body's needs and keep it in vibrant health. Pranayama comes from the following words:
Prana - "life force" or "life energy"
Yama - "discipline" or "control"
Ayama - "expansion", "non-restraint", or "extension"
Thus, Pranayama means "breathing techniques" or "breath control". Ideally, this practice of opening up the inner life force is not merely to take healthy deep breaths. It is intended for yoga practitioners to help and prepare them in their Meditation process.
In our respiration process, we breathe in or inhale oxygen into our body, going through our body systems in a form of energy to charge our different body parts. Then we exhale carbon dioxide and take away all toxic wastes from our body. Through the practice of Pranayama, the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide is attained. Absorbing prana through breath control links our body, mind, and spirit.
But life is full of stress. Because of the daily work, family, or financial pressures, we tend to ignore our breathing. Thus, it tends to be fast and shallow. The use of only a fraction of your lungs results to lack of oxygen and may lead to different complications. Heart diseases, sleep disorders, and fatigue are some of the effects of oxygen starvation. Therefore, the negative energy of being restless and troublesome leads to lesser prana inside the body. By practicing deep and systematic breathing through Pranayama, we reenergize our body.
4) Which are the four stages of Pranayama?
These are the four stages of Pranayama:
Arambha - the commencement stage wherein the person's interest in Pranayama is awakened
Ghata - the stage where the three sariras merge to envelope the soul. The three sariras are gross, subtle, and causal.
Parichay- the stage where the yogi experiences the knowledge of Pranayama
Nispatti- the stage where the yogi goes beyond his physical body, and unites with the supreme
5) What are the benefits of pranayama?
Benefits of Pranayama:
Breathing is a normal part of our life, though we fail to pay attention to it. It is an autonomic function of the body that we perform even without concentrating on it. Why then do we have to learn yoga breathing? Here are some reasons why Pranayama is important:
Pranayama teaches us the proper way to breathe. We became used to breathing from our chest, using only a fraction of the lungs, not knowing that this unhealthy and unnatural way of inhaling may lead to several complications. With yoga breathing, we increase the capacity of our lungs, bringing more oxygen supply to the body to function well. We learn how to breathe slowly and deeply - the right way.
Pranayama reduces the toxins and body wastes from within our body. It prevents one from acquiring diseases.
Pranayama helps in one's digestion. With the proper way of breathing, one's metabolism and health condition will start to improve.
Pranayama develops our concentration and focus. It fights away stress and relaxes the body. Controlling one's breathing also results to serenity and peace of mind.
Pranayama offers a better self-control. Through concentration, one can better handle temper and reactions. Mind can function clearly, avoiding arguments and wrong decisions. Moreover, self-control also involves control over one's physical body.
Pranayama leads to spiritual journey through a relaxed body and mind.
However, Pranayama should not be forced and done without proper preparation, or it may lead to nervous breakdowns. It is part of a process in yoga. Breath control is a spiritual practice of cleansing the mind and body which should be done appropriately and with proper guidance and preparation.
6) What is the importance of breathing in pranayama?
Yoga Breathing (Pranayama) - The Importance of Breathing
One of the Five Principles of Yoga is Pranayama or Breathing Exercise which promotes proper breathing. The Yogis realized the importance of an adequate oxygen supply thousands of years ago that is why they developed and perfected various Breathing Techniques that will help to revitalize the mind and the body.
Pranayama - the science of breath control, consist a series of exercises intended to meet these needs and to keep the body in vibrant health.
Proper Breathing in a Yogic point of view is to bring more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and to control prana or the vital life energy.
These techniques have also proved to help the prevention of major diseases and cure minor illnesses.
Breathing is important for two basic reasons.
It is the only means of supplying our bodies and its various organs with oxygen which is vital for our health.
Breathing is one of the ways to get rid of waste products and toxins from our body.
Why Oxygen is so vital?
Oxygen is the most vital nutrient in our bodies.
It is essential for the proper and efficient functioning of the brain, nerves, Glands and other internal organs.
We can survive without food for weeks and without water for days, but without oxygen we will die within a few minutes.
If the brain does not get proper supply of this essential nutrient, it will cause degradation of all the vital organs of the body.
The brain requires more oxygen than any other organ. If it doesn't get enough, the result is mental sluggishness, negative thoughts, depression and, eventually, vision and hearing declines. Oxygen supply in our body, however, declines as we get older and if we live a poor lifestyle.
Oxygen purifies the blood stream
One of the major secrets of energy and rejuvenation is a purified blood stream. The quickest and most effective way to purify the blood stream is by taking in extra supplies of oxygen from the air we breathe. The Breathing Exercises described in this website are the most effective methods ever devised for saturating the blood with extra oxygen. So here are a few things about what oxygen do to our body:
Oxygen recharges the body's batteries (the solar plexus).
Most of our energy requirements come, not from food, but from the air we breathe.
By purifying the blood stream, every part of the body benefits, as well as the mind.
Rejuvenation of the skin will start to occur.
Scientists have discovered that the chemical basis of energy production in the body is a chemical called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). If something goes wrong with the production of ATP, the result is lowered vitality, disease and premature aging.
Scientists have also discovered that oxygen is critical for the production of ATP; in fact, it is in fact its most vital component.
The work done at Baylor University in the USA has shown that you can reverse Arterial Disease in monkeys by infusing oxygen into the diseased arteries.
Yoga permits us to tap into this vital nutrient.
Importance of Healthy Breathing
We know how to breathe. It is something that occurs automatically, spontaneously, and naturally. We are breathing even when we are not aware of it. So it seems foolish to think that one can be told how to breathe. Yet, one's breathing becomes modified and restricted in various ways, not just momentarily but habitually. We develop unhealthy habits without being aware of it. For example:
We tend to assume positions such as slouching that diminishes lung capacity to function properly, which result to shortened breaths.
We also live in social conditions that are not good for the health of our Respiratory System.
A normally sedentary person, when confronted with a perplexing problem, tends to lean forward, draw his arms together, and bend his head down. All these body postures result to reduced lung capacity. However, we also tend to have some bad habits that affect our breathing and here are a few reasons.
As our duties, responsibilities and their attendant problems become more demanding; we develop habits of forgetting to breathe.
The more we concentrate on something, the tenser the muscles become. This leads to the contraction of the muscles in your arms, neck and chest.
The muscles that move the thorax and control inhalation and muscular tenseness clamp down and restrict the exhalation.
The breaths become shorter and shorter.
After an extended period of intense focusing, the whole system seems to be frozen in a certain posture.
We become fatigued from the decreased circulation of blood and from the decreased availability of oxygen for the blood because we have almost stopped breathing.
Try an experiment suggested by Swami Vishnudevananda:
Focus attention upon the ticks of a clock placed at a distance of about twelve feet.
If you get distracted, try concentrating harder until you experience the ticking with undivided attention.
If you fail at first, you should try again and again until you succeed in keeping the ticking clearly in mind for at least a few seconds.
What happened? The majority of persons who took part in this experiment reported that they have completely suspended the breath. The others, who concentrated less, reported that they experienced very slow breathing.
This experiment shows clearly that where there is concentration of the mind, the breathing becomes very slow or even gets suspended temporarily.
7) What's Wrong with the Way We Breathe?
Our breathing is too shallow and too quick.
We are not taking in sufficient oxygen and we are not eliminating sufficient carbon dioxide. As a result, our bodies are oxygen starved, and a toxic build-up occurs. Every cell in the body requires oxygen and our level of vitality is just a product of the health of all the cells.
Shallow breathing does not exercise the lungs enough, so they lose some of their function, causing a further reduction in vitality.
Animals which breathe slowly live the longest; the elephant is a good example. We need to breathe more slowly and deeply.
Quick shallow breathing results in oxygen starvation which leads to reduced vitality, premature ageing, poor immune system and a myriad of other factors.
Why Is Our Breath Fast and Shallow?
There are several reasons why our breath becomes fast and shallow. The major reasons are:
We are in a hurry most of the time. Our movements and breathing follow this pattern.
The increasing stress of modern living makes us breathe more quickly and less deeply.
We get too emotional too easily.
We get easily excited or angry, and most of the time, we suffer from Anxiety due to worry.
These negative emotional states affect the rate of breathing, causing it to be fast and shallow. On the other hand here are some other reasons due to unknown wrong breathing habit.
Modern technology and automation reduces our need for physical activity. There is less need to breathe deeply, so we develop the shallow breathing habit.
We are working indoors more and more. This increases our exposure to pollution. As a result, the body instinctively inhales less air to protect itself from pollution.
The body just takes in enough air to tick over.
As we go through life, these bad breathing habits we picked up become part of our lives. Unless we do something to reverse these habits, we can suffer permanent problems. The good news is that these are reversible. The bad news is that before we can change these habits, we should recognize and accept that our behavior needs to be changed. This means that we see for ourselves the benefits of good Breathing Techniques.
Certainly, Yoga is not the only way to cope with stress and the resultant drop of oxygen supply in the brain brought on by constricted breathing. Smoking, taking a coffee break, going to the restroom, or a good laugh may all result into some readjustment of constricted breathing patterns. These can be thought of as "mini yoga", we can benefit by taking or seeking more breaks, trips or jokes. But people whose occupations continue to be highly stressful, something more will be needed. Deep Breathing Exercises and stretching of muscles, especially those primarily concerned with controlling inhalation and exhalation, should be sought. Participation in active sports will also be useful. Going for a walk is very good. For those experiencing restricted breathing at night, morning exercises should be actively pursued.
The Effects of Shallow Breathing
Shallow breathing can result to:
Reduced vitality, since oxygen is essential for the production of energy in the body
Susceptibility to diseases. Our resistance to disease is reduced since oxygen is essential for healthy cells. This means we catch more Colds and develop other ailments more easily.
With our 'normal' sedentary way of living, we only use about one tenth of our total lung capacity. This is sufficient to survive and just tick over, but not sufficient for a high vitality level, long life and high resistance to disease.
Poor oxygen supply affects all parts of the body. When an acute circulation blockage deprives the heart of oxygen, this will result to heart attack while a stroke is the result of poor oxygen supply in the brain.
Scientists have known for a long time that there exists a strong connection between Respiration and Mental States. Improper breathing produces diminished mental ability. The outcome is true also. It is known that mental tensions produce restricted breathing.
Some research made regarding various heart diseases and cancer due to lack of oxygen supply in the body.
For a long time, lack of oxygen has been considered a major cause of cancer. Even way back as 1947, a study done in Germany showed that when oxygen was withdrawn, normal body cells could turn into cancer cells.
Similar research has been done with heart disease. It showed that lack of oxygen is a major cause of heart disease, Stroke and cancer.
Modem science agrees with the Ancient Yogis on the subject of shallow breathing.
An editorial in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggested that fast, shallow breathing can cause: Fatigue, sleep disorders, Anxiety, stomach upsets, heartburn, gas, muscle cramps, dizziness, visual problems, chest pain and heart palpitations.
Scientists have also found that a lot of people who believe they have Heart Disease are really suffering from improper breathing.
Old people and those whose arteries are clogged often become senile and vague because the supply of oxygen towards the brain is reduced. They get irritated very quickly.
People who have sedentary jobs and spend most of the day in offices have oxygen starved brains and their bodies are just 'getting by'. They feel tired, nervous, I irritable, and are not very productive. On top of that, they sleep badly at night so they get a bad start for the next day and this cycle continues.
This situation also lowers their immune system, making them susceptible to catching Colds, flu and other Allergies.
Importance of Breathing through the Nose
The first rule for correct breathing is that we should breathe through the nose.
This may seem obvious, but many people breathe principally through the mouth.
Mouth breathing can adversely affect the development of the Thyroid Gland, and can retard the mental development of children.
Pathogens can also enter the lungs through mouth breathing that makes it impossible to be healthy. It is easy to break the habit of breathing through the mouth. Just keep your mouth closed and you will automatically breathe through your nose.
The nose has various defense mechanisms to prevent impurities and excessively cold air entering the body.
At the entrance to the nose, a screen of hairs traps dust, tiny insects and other particles that may injure the lungs if you breathe through the mouth.
After the entrance of the nose, there is a long winding passage lined with mucus membranes, where excessively cool air is warmed and very fine dust particles that escaped the hair screen are caught.
In the inner nose are glands which fight off any bacilli which have slipped through the other defenses. The inner nose also contains the olfactory organ-our sense of smell. This detects any poisonous gases around that may injure our health.
The Yogis believe that the olfactory organ has another function: the absorption of Prana from the air.
If you breathe through the mouth all the time, as many people do, you are cheating yourself of all this free energy (Prana).
The Yogis say this is a major factor in lowered resistance to disease and impairs the functioning of your vital glands and nervous system.
The Ancient Yogis knew the importance of correct breathing and developed techniques not only to increase Health and life span, but also to attain super conscious states.
8)What is yoga Breathing?
Yoga Breathing (Pranayama) :-
Breath equals life. But do you ever bother to ask: why do we need breath that much?
Since we have been unconsciously doing it since the first day we came into this world, the breathing process has been taken for granted by almost all of us. All we know is that we need to take in oxygen in order to keep our bodies running. But very few of us have taken the time to really understand the breathing process. The following article will explore the mechanics of breathing, particularly the:
different stages of the breathing process;
different kinds of breathing;
organs used in breathing; and
process of breathing
Stages of Breathing
Basically, breathing has four stages:
inhalation, or the taking in of air
a pause before exhaling
exhaling, or the pushing out of gas
a pause before inhaling again
These four stages comprise the cycle of respiration. In Pranayama, yogis prolong the pauses in a way that will benefit their health and state of mind. However, the two pause stages may not exactly be restful since the whole respiratory system, along with its muscular and nervous components, goes through a reversal of direction and many small adaptations whenever such a reversal occurs.
9)Different kinds of Breathing?
The following are the 11 kinds of breathing:
Noisy and quiet breathing
Fast and slow breathing
Regular and irregular breathing
Jerky and smooth breathing
Deep and shallow breathing
Forced and effortless breathing
Voluntary and involuntary breathing
Mouth and nose breathing
High, middle, and low breathing, and the combination of the three in "complete Yogic Breathing"
Mere passage of the air in and out of the lungs, and experiencing breathing as an affair of the whole body, the whole self, and the whole universe as explored in Pranayama
Nervous and relaxed breathing, compared to anxious and peaceful breathing
As seen here, it can be concluded that breathing is a very intricate and complicated process.
Organs used in Breathing
The respiratory system is composed of the nose and mouth, pharynx and larynx, trachea and bronchi, as well as the lungs and thorax.
Nose and Mouth
The nose is what we normally use to inhale and exhale. It has two holes called nostrils through which air passes. The skin lining both nostrils is embedded with tiny hairs called cilia, which act like a filter to catch dust and other small particles in the air we breathe. The mouth is what we use to breathe when we need more air than what can be taken in through the nostrils, as when we pant or puff when we are exhausted.
Pharynx and Larynx
The pharynx is the opening just behind the nose and mouth and is part of both the respiratory and digestive systems. Since both food and air pass through the pharynx, it is lined with tissues called tonsils which can partially obstruct the passage of either of the two. Like when swallowing, respiration is interrupted. The pharynx ends in the esophagus and the larynx, which is also known as the "voice box" because it houses the vocal chords and the different muscles used in producing sounds. The epiglottis, a cartilage found at the top of the larynx, aids in closing it tightly to prevent the passage of food or liquids.
Trachea and Bronchi
The trachea, also referred to as the windpipe, is a tube through which respiratory gas transport takes place. It is lined with ciliated cells to push particles out, and cartilage rings to guard it against pressure when breathing. The end of the trachea is split into two tubes called the bronchi, which also have several thin-walled branches called bronchioles. These bronchioles lead to air sacs called alveoli, where most of the gas exchange happens.
Lungs and Thorax
The lungs are the most essential organ for respiration. They consist of a cluster of bronchioles and alveoli, blood vessels and capillaries, and elastic tissue. Their main function is to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream, and to excrete carbon dioxide into the air.
The thorax is the region of the body that extends from the neck to the back. The thoracic cavity is the area that contains the heart and the lungs, and is protected by the rib cage and the sternum.
The Breathing process
There are three components of the breathing process:
There is a common tendency to refer to breathing and respiration as the same thing. This is wrong. Breathing is a mechanical process, while respiration is a chemical process. Respiration refers to the process of carrying the inhaled oxygen to each cell of the body that needs it. Its by-product is carbon dioxide.
On average, an adult at rest inhales and exhales about 16 times every minute. Each time, about 500-700ml of air is taken in, and about the same amount is exhaled. However, not the whole of the amount we inhale is oxygen. In fact, only about 20% of it is oxygen. About 79% of it is nitrogen, while the rest is a mixture of carbon dioxide, helium, argon, and other gases. Almost as much nitrogen is exhaled as is inhaled each time. The only difference is that exhaled air contains only 16% oxygen and 4% carbon dioxide, which means that about one-fifth of the oxygen we take in is changed to carbon dioxide during respiration. Part of the aim of deep breathing exercises and posture movements in Yoga is to increase the amount of oxygen compared to that of carbon dioxide in the blood, which will circulate all over the body.
Oxygenation refers to the injection or addition of oxygen into any organism, and this includes the human body. In our case, oxygenation occurs in the blood cells, which in turn carries the oxygen throughout the body.
Now why is oxygen important? All living tissues and cells need energy in order to live. For us humans, we get this energy from the food we eat. After digestion, the energy is stored in the molecules of glucose, fructose, amino acids, and other substances. But it cannot just stay there; that energy must be released in order to be used. Energy can be released from those molecules through a chemical process that requires oxygen for it to take place. This is why oxygen, and eventually breath, is of paramount importance to our lives.
The nervous system is responsible for the regulation of breathing. It controls the contractions of muscles used in breathing. This starts from a cluster of cells in the brain stem called the respiratory center. These cells send impulses to the different muscles involved in inhalation, which in turn takes in air. As for exhalation, it simply happens once inhalation stops. No force is necessary for exhalation; simply stop inhaling and exhalation will follow, thus completing the breathing cycle. That is why the cells of the respiratory center can be compared to the pacemaker tissue of the heart, which acts without outside help.
However, like the heartbeat, some outside factors can influence the regularity of breathing. These can either be voluntary or involuntary. A few examples of voluntary factors are the control you exert over breathing when you are talking, singing, whistling, or when holding your breath when a certain smell offends you. Involuntary factors, on the other hand, are emotions such as fear, anger and excitement, as well as sudden changes in temperature.
The knowledge of regularity of breathing, particularly the voluntary and involuntary factors that affect it, is important in Yoga. This is because Yogic Breathing Exercises aim at changing unhealthy involuntary breathing habits voluntarily, then developing healthier habits afterwards.
10)Which are the traditional breathing techniques ?
Yoga Breathing (Pranayama) - Traditional Breathing Techniques
Learning the Traditional Breathing Techniques may be more important than the explicit directions themselves. As we look into them, the purpose is not to suggest rigid techniques that needed to be followed blindly. Traditional Breathing Techniques are subject to some variations. These help you establish and practice healthful rhythms. You may also gain additional insights into the nature of Breathing processes, and how to attain additional relaxation through them.
High Breathing refers to what takes place primarily in the upper part of the chest and lungs. This has been called "Clavicular Breathing" or "Collarbone Breathing" and involves raising the ribs, collarbone and shoulders. Persons with Asthma, a tight belt, a full stomach or who otherwise become short of breath tend to resort to high breathing. One may deliberately draw in his abdomen and force its contents upward against the diaphragm and into the chest cavity in order to cause High Breathing. High Breathing is naturally shallow and a larger percentage of it fails to reach the alveoli and enter into useable gaseous exchange.
This is the least desirable form of breathing since the upper lobes of the lungs are used and these have only a small air capacity. Also the upper rib cage is fairly rigid, so not much expansion of the ribs can take place. A great deal of Muscular energy is expended in pressing against the diaphragm and in keeping the ribs and shoulders raised abnormally high. This form of breathing is quite common, especially among Women, probably because they often wear tight clothes around the waist which prevents the far superior abdominal breathing. It's a common cause of digestive, stomach, constipation and gynecological problems.
Low breathing refers to what takes place primarily in the lower part of the chest and lungs. It is far more effective than high or mid breathing. It consists mainly in moving the abdomen in and out and in changing the position of the diaphragm through such movements. Because of this, it is sometimes called "Abdominal Breathing" and "Diaphragmic Breathing." Sedentary persons who habitually bend forward while they read or write tend to slump into low breathing. Whenever one slouches or slackens his shoulder and chest muscles, he normally adopts low breathing. We often use low breathing when sleeping. But whenever we become physically active, as in walking, running or lifting, we are likely to find abdominal breathing inadequate for our needs. To do low breathing, when you inhale you push the stomach gently forwards with no strain. When exhaling you allow the stomach to return to its normal position.
This Type of Breathing is far superior to high or mid breathing for four reasons: (1) more air is taken in when inhaling, due to greater movement of the lungs and the fact that the lower lobes of the lungs have a larger capacity than the upper lobes; (2) the diaphragm acts like a second Heart. Its piston-like movements expand the base of the lungs, allowing them to suck in more venous blood- the increase in the venous circulation improves the general Circulation; (3) the abdominal organs are massaged by the up and down movements of the diaphragm; and (4) low breathing has a beneficial effect on the solar plexus, a very important nerve center.
Middle Breathing is a little harder to describe since the limits of variability are more indefinite. Yet, it is breathing in which mainly the middle parts of the lungs are filled with air. It exhibits some of the characteristics of both high breathing, since the ribs rise and the chest expands somewhat, and low breathing, since the diaphragm moves up and down and the abdomen in and out a little. It has been called Thoracic or Intercoastal or Rib Breathing. But too often it also remains a shallow type of breathing. With this form of breathing, the ribs and chest are expanded sideways. This is better than high breathing, but far inferior to low breathing and the Yoga Complete Breath Technique.
The Complete Breath
Most of us use three or four Kinds of Breathing. These may be called high, low and middle breathing and complete breathing. The complete breath is a combination of high breathing, mid breathing and low breathing.
The Complete Breath, as defined by Yoga, involves the entire Respiratory System and not only includes the portions of the lungs used in high, low and middle breathing, but expands the lungs so as to take in more air than the amounts inhaled by all of these Three Kinds of Breathing together when they are employed in shallow breathing. The complete breath is not just deep breathing; it is the deepest possible breathing. Not only does one raise his shoulders, collarbone and ribs, as in high breathing, and also extend his abdomen and lower his diaphragm, as in low breathing, but he does both as much as is needed to expand his lungs to their fullest capacity.
The Yoga Complete Breath is the basic technique of all the different types of Yoga Breathing, and therefore should be mastered before you learn the specific breathing exercises. It brings the whole lung capacity into play and is the basis of the three specific breathing exercises. Keep in mind that this Type of Breathing is only done when you do the breathing exercises. The rest of the time you should be doing low breathing by pushing the stomach out slightly when you inhale, and then just letting the stomach fall back to its original position when you exhale. Also, make sure you are breathing through your nose and not your mouth.
11)Which are the varieties of Pranayama ?
Varieties of Pranayama
Sankhyabhih patidtishto deergha-sukshmah.
Yoga Sutras Chap. II, Sa. 50
Pranayama is regarded lengthy or subtle according to its three components, the external, the internal and the steady; the retention processes are modified by the regulations of space, time and num
When the breath is expired, it is Rechaka, the first kind of Pranayama. When the breath is drawn in, it is the second, termed Puraka. When it is suspended, it is the third kind, called Kumbhaka. Kumbhaka is retention of breath. Kumbhaka increases the period of life. It augments the inner spiritual force, vigour and vitality. If you retain the breath for one minute, this one minute is added to your span of life. Yogins by taking the breath to the Brahmarandhra at the top of the head and keeping it there, defeat the Lord of death, Yama, and conquer death. Chang Dev lived for one thousand and four hundred years through the practice of Kumbhaka. Each of these motions in Pranayama, viz., Rechaka, Puraka and Kumbhaka, is regulated by space, time and number. By space is meant the inside or outside of the body and the particular length or the breadth and also when the Prana is held in some particular part of the body. During expiration the distance to which breath is thrown outside varies in different individuals. The distance varies during inspiration also. The length of the breath varies in accordance with the pervading Tattva. The length of the breath is respectively 12, 16, 4, 8, 0 fingers’ breadths according to the Tattvas—Prithvi, Apas, Tejas, Vayu or Akasa (earth, water, fire, air or ether). This is again external during exhalation and internal during inhalation.
Time is, the time of duration of each of these, which is generally counted by Matra, which corresponds to one second. Matra means a measure. By time is also meant how long the Prana should be fixed in a particular centre or part.
Number refers to the number of times the Pranayama is performed. The Yogic student should slowly take the number of Pranayamas to eighty at one sitting. He should have four sittings in the morning, afternoon, evening and midnight, or at 9 a.m., and should have thus 320 Pranayamas in all. The effect or fruit of Pranayama is Udghata or awakening of the sleeping Kundalini. The chief aim of Pranayama is to unite the Prana with the Apana and take the united Pranayama slowly upwards towards the head.
Kundalini is the source for all occult powers. The Pranayama is long or short according to the period of time, it is practised. Just as water, thrown on a hot pan shrivels upon all sides as it is being dried up, so also air, moving in or out ceases its action by a strong effort of restraint (Kumbhaka) and stays within.
Vachaspati describes Measured by 36 Matras, is the first attempt (Udghata), which is mild. Twice that is the second, which is middling. Thrice that is the third, which is the intense. This is the Pranayama as measured by number.
The ‘place’ of exhalation lies within 12 Angulas (inches) of the tip of nose. This is to be ascertained through a piece of reed or cotton. The place of inhalation ranges from the head down to the soles of the feet. This is to be ascertained through a sensation similar to the touch of an ant. The place of Kumbhaka consists of the external and internal places of both exhalation and inhalation taken together, because the functions of the breath are capable of being held up at both these places. This is to be ascertained through the absence of the two indicatives noted above, in connection with exhalation and inhalation.
The fourth is restraining the Prana by directing it to external or internal object; Bahyabhyantara-vishayakshepi chaturthah (Yoga Sutras: 11,50).
The third kind of Pranayama that is described in Sutra 50 of the Yoga Sutras, is practised only till the first Udghata is marked. This fourth Pranayama is carried further. It concerns with the fixing of the Prana in the various lotuses (Padmas or Chakras) and taking it slowly, and slowly, step by step, and stage by stage to the last lotus in the head, where perfect Samadhi takes place. This is internal. Externally it takes into consideration the length of breath in accordance with the prevailing Tattva. Prana can be described either inside or outside.
By gradual mastery over the preliminary three kinds of Pranayama, the fourth kind comes in. In the third kind of Pranayama the sphere is not taken into consideration. The stoppage of the breath occurs with one single effort and is then measured by space, time and number and thus becomes Dirgha (long) and Sukshma (subtle). In the fourth variety, however the spheres of expiration and inspiration are ascertained. The different states are mastered by and by. The fourth variety is not practised all at once by a single effort like the third one. On the other hand, it reaches different states of perfection, as it is being done. After one stage is mastered, the next stage is taken up and practised. Then it goes in succession. The third is not preceded by measurements and is brought about by a single effort. The fourth is however preceded by the knowledge of the measurements, and is brought about by much effort. This is the only difference. The conditions of time, space and number are applicable to this kind of Pranayama also. Particular occult powers develop themselves at each stage of progress.
12)Different types of Pranayama ?
Three Types of Pranayama
There are three types of Pranayama, viz., Adhama, Madhyama and Uttama (inferior, middle and superior). The Adhama Pranayama consists of 12 Matras, Madhyama consists of 24 Matras and the Uttama occupies a time of 32 Matras. This is for Puraka. The ratio between Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka is 1:4:2. Puraka is inhalation. Kumbhaka is retention. Rechaka is exhalation. If you inhale for a period of 12 Matras you will have to make Kumbhaka for a period of 48 Matras. Then the time for Rechaka will be 24 Matras. This is for Adhama Pranayama. The same rule will apply to the other two varieties. First, practise for a month of Adhama Pranayama. Then practise Madhyama for three months. Then take up the Uttama variety.
Salute your Guru and Sri Ganesa as soon as you sit in the Asana. The time for Abhyasa is early morning 4 a.m., 10 a.m., evening 4 p.m., and night 10 p.m., or 12 p.m. As you advance in practice you will have to do 320 Pranayamas daily.
Sagarbha Pranayama is that Pranayama, which is attended with mental Japa of any Mantra, either Gayatri or Om. It is one hundred times more powerful than the Agarbha Pranayama, which is plain and unattended with any Japa. Pranayama Siddhi depends upon the intensity of the efforts of the practitioner. An ardent enthusiastic student, with Parama Utsaha, Sahasa and Dridhata (zeal, cheerfulness and tenacity), can effect Siddhi (perfection) within six months; while a happy-go-lucky practitioner with Tandri and Alasya (drowsiness and laziness) will find no improvement even after eight or ten years. Plod on. Persevere with patience, faith, confidence, expectation, interest and attention. You are bound to succeed. Nil desperandum Never despair.
13) What is vedantic Kumbhaka ?
Being without any distraction and with a calm mind, one should practise Pranayama. Both expiration and inspiration should be stopped. The practitioner should depend solely on Brahman; that is the highest aim of life. The giving out of all external objects, is said to be Rechaka. The taking in of the spiritual knowledge of Sastras, is said to be Puraka, and the keeping to oneself of such knowledge is said to be Kumbhaka. He is an emancipated person who practices his Chitta thus. There is no doubt about it. Through Kumbhaka the mind should always be taken up and through Kumbhaka alone it should be filled up within. It is only through Kumbhaka that Kumbhaka should be firmly mastered. Within it, is ‘Parama Siva’. At first in his Brahmagranthi there is produced soon a hole or passage. Then having pierced Brahmagranthi, he pierces Vishnugranthi, then he pierces Rudragranthi, then the Yogin attains his liberation through the religious ceremonies, performed in various births, through the grace of Gurus and Devatas and through the practice of Yoga.
Pranayama for Nadi-Suddhi
The Vayu cannot enter the Nadis if they are full of impurities. Therefore, first of all, they should be purified and then Pranayama should be practised. The Nadis are purified by two processes, viz., Samanu and Nirmanu. The Samanu is done by a mental process with Bija Mantra. The Nirmanu is done by physical cleansing or the Shatkarmas.
1. Sit on Padmasana. Meditate on the Bijakshara of Vayu (Yam) which is of smoke colour. Inhale through the left nostril. Repeat the Bijakshara 16 times. This is Puraka. Retain the breath till you repeat the Bija 64 times. This is Kumbhaka. Then exhale through the right nostril very very slowly till you repeat the Bijakshara 32 times.
2. The navel is the seat of Agnitattva. Meditate on this Agnitattva. Then draw the breath through the right nostril repeating 16 times the Agni Bija rö (Ram). Retain the breath, till you count the Bija 64 times. Then exhale slowly through the left nostril till you repeat mentally the Bija letter 32 times.
3. Fix the gaze at the tip of the nose. Inhale through the left nostril repeating the Bija Yö (Tham) 16 times. Retain the breath till you repeat the Bija (Tham) 64 times. Now imagine that the nectar that flows from the moon, runs through all the vessels of the body and purifies them. Then exhale slowly through right nostril till you repeat the Prithvi Bija l:ö (Lam) 32 times.
The Nadis are purified nicely by the practice of the above three kinds of Pranayama by sitting firmly in your usual posture.
14)What is Pranayama ?
Tasmin sati svasaprasvasayor-gativicchedah pranayamah Regulation of breath or the control of Prana is the stoppage of inhalation and exhalation, which follows after securing that steadiness of posture or seat.
Defenition of Pranayama in the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali.
‘Svasa’ means inspiratory breath. ‘Prasvasa’ means expiratory breath. You can take up the practice of Pranayama after you have gained steadiness in your Asana (seat). If you can sit for 3 hour in one Asana, continuously at one stretch, you have gained mastery over the Asana. If you are able to sit from half to one hour even, you can take up the practice of Pranayama. You can hardly make any spiritual progress without the practice of Pranayama.
Prana is Vyashti, when the individual is concerned. The sum total of the cosmic energy or cosmic Prana is Hiranyagarbha who is known as the floating ‘Golden-Egg’. Hiranyagarbha is Samashti Prana. One match stick is Vyashti (single). The whole match box is Samashti. A single mango-tree is Vyashti. The whole mango grove is Samashti. The energy in the body is Prana. By controlling the motion of the lungs or respiratory organs, we can control the Prana that is vibrating inside. By control of Prana, the mind can be easily controlled, because the mind is fastened to the Prana, like the bird to the string. Just as the bird that is tied to a post by a string, after flying here and there, finds its resting place in the post, so also this mind-bird after running hither and thither, in various sensual objects, finds its resting place during deep sleep in the Prana.
Pranayama.............. (According to the Gita)
Apane juhvati pranam pranepanam tathapare; Pranapanagatee ruddhva pranayamaparayanah (Gita, Ch. IV-29.). Others offer Prana (outgoing breath) in Apana (incoming breath) and Apana in Prana, restraining the passage of Prana and Apana, absorbed in Pranayama. Pranayama is a precious Yajna (sacrifice). Some practise the kind of Pranayama called Puraka (filling in). Some practise the kind of Pranayama called Rechaka (emptying). Some are engaged in the practice of Pranayama called Kumbhaka, by impeding the outward passage of air, through the nostrils and the mouth, and by impeding the inward passage of the air, in the opposite direction.
Pranayama........... (According To Sri Sankaracharya)
Pranayama is the control of all life-forces by realising naught but Brahman in all things as the mind, etc.
The negation of the Universe is the outgoing breath. The thought: ‘I am Brahman’ itself is called the incoming breath.
The permanence of that thought thereafter is the restrained breath. This is the Pranayama of the wise, while the pressing of the nose is only for the unknowing. (Aparokshanubhuti, 118-120).
Pranayama.............. (According to Yogi Bhusunda)
Bhusunda says to Sri Vasishtha: In the cool lotus of the heart within this visible tenement of flesh composed of the five elements, there are two Vayus, viz., Prana and Apana, commingled in it. For those who tread smoothly and without any or the slightest efforts, the path of these two Vayus, will become the sun and the moon themselves in the heart Akasa, and will rove in the Akasa and yet be animating and carrying their fleshy-tabernacle. These Vayus will go up and down to higher and lower states. They are of the same nature in the waking, dreaming and dreamless sleeping state, and permeate all throughout. I am moving in the direction of those two Vayus and have rendered nil all my Vasanas in the waking state lit unto those of the dreamless sleeping state. Divide a filament of the lotus-stalk into a thousand times and you will find these Vayus more subtle than that. Hence it is difficult for me to treat about the nature of these Vayus and their vibrations. Of these, Prana does ceaselessly vibrate in this body, with an upward motion, both externally and internally, while Apana having the same fluctuating tendency, vibrates both external and internal to the body having a downward motion. It will be beneficial if the Prana exhaled to the extent of 16 digits, is inhaled to the same extent. Only 12 digits are inhaled ordinarily. Those who have brought to experience viz., the equalisation of Prana in exhalation and inhalation will enjoy infinite bliss.
The specification of the three kinds of breath regulations, by all these three—time, space and number is only optional. They are not to be understood as to be practised collectively, for in many Smritis we meet with passages, where the only specification mentioned with reference to the regulation of breath is that of time.
Now hear about the characteristics of Prana. The inhalation to the length of 12 digits of the Prana which has been exhaled, is called (the internal) Puraka (inhalation). This also is called the internal (Puraka), when Apana Vayu re-enters the body from outside without any effort. When Apana Vayu ceases to manifest itself and Prana gets absorbed in the heart, then the time occupied in such a state is (internal) Kumbha. Yogins are able to experience all these. When the Prana in the Akasa of the heart manifests itself externally (to the heart within) in diverse aspects without any affliction to the mind then it is called (the external) Rechaka (exhalation). When the externally fluctuating Prana enters the nose and stops there at its tip, then it is called the external Puraka. But when it is passing from the tip of the nose it goes down 12 digits. Then also it is called the external Puraka. When Prana goes arrested without and Apana within, then it is called the external Kumbhaka. When the shining Apana Vayu takes an upward bent within, then it is styled the external Rechaka. All these practices lead to Moksha. Therefore they should ever be meditated upon. Those who have understood and practised well all the external and internal Kumbhakas and others, will never be reborn.
All the eight courses, I have given out before, are capable of yielding Moksha. They should be practised both day and night. Those who are associated with these practices smoothly and control their minds by not letting them run in other directions, will in course of time attain Nirvana. Such practitioners will never thirst after material pleasures. They will ever be in their uniform practice, whether walking, standing, waking, dreaming or sleeping.
Prana, having flown out, will again be absorbed in the heart having run back 12 digits. Similarly will Apana be absorbed in the heart, having issued out of the heart and running back 12 digits to it. Apana being the moon, will cool the whole body in its passage. But Prana being the sun, will generate heat in the system and cook or digest everything in it. Will pains arise in one who has reached that supreme state, where the Kalas (rays) of Apana the moon, are drowned by Prana the sun? Will rebirth arise in one who has reached that powerful seat, when the Kalas of Prana, the sun, are devoured by Apana the moon? These will arrest at once the seven births of those who reach that neutral state where they find Apana Vayu consumed by Prana and vice versa. I eulogise that Chidatma, who is in that intermediate state, where Prana and Apana are absorbed in one another. I meditate ceaselessly upon that Chidatma, who is in the Akasa, directly in front, at the end of my nose, where Prana and Apana both become extinct. Thus it is through this path of Prana’s control, that I attained the supreme and immaculate Tattva, devoid of pains.
15)Importance of breath control during pranayama?
Control of Breath
The first important step is to master the Asana of posture or to control the body. The next exercise is Pranayama. Correct posture is indispensably requisite for the successful practice of Pranayama. An easy comfortable posture is Asana. That pose is the best which continues to be comfortable for the greatest length of time. Chest, neck, and head must be in one vertical line. You should not bend the body either forwards or laterally, i.e., either on the right or left side. You should not sit crooked. You should not allow the body to collapse. You must not bend the body either forwards or backwards. By regular practice the mastery over the pose will come by itself. Fatty people will find it difficult to practise the Padma Asana or the Lotus Pose. They can sit on the Sukha Asana (comfortable pose) or Siddha Asana (perfected pose). You need not wait for practicing Pranayama till you get full mastery over the Asana. Practise Asana and side by side you can practise Pranayama also. In course of time, you will acquire perfection in both. Pranayama can also be practised by sitting in the chair erect.
In Bhagavad-Gita, the Immortal Song of Lord Krishna, you will find a beautiful description of seat and pose: In a pure secret place by himself established in a fixed seat of his own, neither too high nor too low, with cloth, black antelope-skin and Kusa grass one over the other, there, making the mind one-pointed, with thought and the functions of the senses controlled, steady on his seat, he should practise Yoga for the purification of the Self, holding the body, head and neck erect, firm, gazing steadily at the tip of the nose without looking around (Ch. VI10,11, & 12).
Pranayama is the control of the Prana and the vital forces of the body. It is regulation of the breath. This is the most important step. The aim of Pranayama is the control of Prana. Pranayama begins with the regulation of the breath for having control over the life-currents or inner vital force. In other words, Pranayama is the perfect control of the life-currents through control of breath. Breath is external manifestation of the gross Prana. A correct habit of breathing must be established by the regular practice of Pranayama. In ordinary worldly persons the breathing is irregular.
If you can control the Prana you can completely control all the forces of the Universe, mental and physical. The Yogi can also control the Omnipresent manifesting power out of which all energies take their origin, whether concerning magnetism, electricity, gravitation, cohesion, nerve-currents, vital forces or thought-vibrations, in fact the total forces of the Universe, physical and mental.
If one controls the breath or Prana, the mind also is controlled. He who has controlled his mind has also controlled his breath. If one is suspended, the other is also suspended. If the mind and Prana are both controlled one gets liberation from the round of births and deaths and attains immortality. There is intimate connection between the mind, Prana and semen. If one controls the seminal energy, the mind and Prana are also controlled. He who has controlled his seminal energy has also controlled his Prana and mind.
He who practices Pranayama will have good appetite, cheerfulness, handsome figure, good strength, courage, enthusiasm, a high standard of health, vigour and vitality and good concentration of mind. Pranayama is quite suitable for the Westerners also. A Yogi measures the span of his life not by the number of years but by the number of his breaths. You can take in a certain amount of energy or Prana from the atmospheric air along with each breath. Vital capacity is the capacity shown by the largest quantity of air a man can inhale after the deepest possible exhalation. A man takes fifteen breaths in a minute. The total number of breaths comes to 21,600 times per day.
16)Which are the mantra during Pranayama ?
Mantra During Pranayama
The Mantra for repetition during the practice of Pranayama is laid down in the Isvara Gita: When the aspirant holding his breath repeats the Gayatri thrice, together with even Vyahritis in the beginning, the Siras at the end and the Pranava, one at both ends of it, this is, what is called the regulation of breath.
Yogi Yajnavalkya, on the other hand, declares thus: The upward breath and the downward breath, having been restrained, regulation of breath is to be practised by means of the Pranava (!) with due regard to the unit of measure of the Mantra.
This repetition of the Pranava alone, is meant for the Paramahamsa Sannyasins. It has been declared in the Smritis, that ordinary contemplation is to be practised, through the inhalation and other stages of breath-regulation at one’s navel, heart and forehead, with reference to the forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva respectively. For the Paramahamsa however, the only object of contemplation has been declared to be Brahman. The self-controlled ascetic is to contemplate upon the supreme Brahman, by means of the Pranava, declares the Sruti.
Exercise No. 1
Sit on Padmasana. Close your eyes. Concentrate on Trikuti (the space between the two eye-brows). Close the right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale slowly through the left nostril as long as you can do it with comfort. Then exhale very very slowly through the same nostril. Do twelve times. This is one round.
Then inhale through the right nostril by closing the left nostril with your right ring and little fingers and exhale very slowly through the same nostril. Do twelve times. This is one round.
Do not make any sound during inhalation and exhalation. Repeat your Ishta Mantra during the practice. In the second week of practice, do two rounds, in the third week, three rounds. Take rest for two minutes when one round is over. If you take a few normal breaths, when one round is over, that will give you sufficient rest and you will be fresh for the next round. There is no Kumbhaka in this exercise. You can increase the number of rounds according to your strength and capacity.
Do not make any sound during inhalation and exhalation. Repeat your Ishta Mantra during the practice. In the second week of practice, do two rounds, in the third week, three rounds. Take rest for two minutes when one round is over. If you take a few normal breaths, when one round is over, that will give you sufficient rest and you will be fresh for the next round. There is no Kumbhaka in this exercise. You can increase the number of rounds according to your strength and capacity.
Exercise No. 2
Inhale through both the nostrils slowly and gently. Do not retain the breath. Then exhale slowly. Do 12 times. This will constitute one round. You can do 2 or 3 rounds according to your capacity and strength and time at your disposal.
Exercise No. 3
Sit on your Asana. Close the right nostril with your right thumb. Then inhale slowly through your left nostril. Close the left nostril with your right ring and little fingers and open the right nostril by removing the right thumb. Exhale very slowly through the right nostril. Then draw the air through the right nostril as long as you can do it with comfort and exhale through the left nostril by removing the right ring and little fingers. There is no Kumbhaka in this Pranayama. Repeat the process 12 times. This will constitute one round.
Exercise No. 4
Meditate that the single letter, the Supreme light Pranava or OM is the origin or source of the three letters A, U and M. Inhale the air through Ida or left nostril for the space of 16 Matras (seconds), meditate on the letter ‘A’ during that time; retain the air for the space of 64 Matras, meditate on the letter ‘U’ during the time; exhale through the right nostril for the space of 32 Matras and meditate on the letter ‘M’ during that time. Practise this again and again in the above order. Begin with 2 or 3 times and gradually increase the number to 20 or 30 times according to your capacity and strength. To begin with, keep the ratio 1:4:2. Gradually increase the ratio to 16:64:32.
DEEP BREATHING EXERCISE
Each deep breathing consists of a very full inhalation, through the nose and a deep, steady exhalation also, through the nose.
Inhale slowly as much as you can do. Exhale slowly as much as you can do. During inhalation, observe the following rules:
1. Stand up. Place the hands on the hips, the elbows will be out and not forced backward. Stand at ease.
2. Lengthen the chest straight upwards. Press the hip bones with the hands in downward direction. A vacuum will be formed by this act and the air will rush in of its own accord.
3. Keep the nostrils wide open. Do not use the nose as a suction pump. It should serve as a passive passage for both the inhaled and the exhaled air. Do not make any sound when you inhale and exhale. Remember that correct breathing is noiseless.
4. Stretch the whole upper part of the trunk.
5. Do not arch the upper chest into a cramped position. Keep the abdomen naturally relaxed.
6. Do not bend the head far backwards. Do not draw the abdomen inwards. Do not force the shoulders back. Lift the shoulders up.
During the exhalation observe the following rules carefully:
1. Allow the ribs and the whole upper part of the trunk to sink down gradually.
2. Draw the lower ribs and abdomen upwards slowly.
3. Do not bend the body too much forward. Arching of the chest should be avoided. Keep the head, neck and trunk in a straight line. Contract the chest. Do not breathe the air out through the mouth. Exhale very, very slowly without producing any noise.
4. Expiration simply takes place by relaxing the inspiratory muscles. The chest falls down by its own weight and expels the air out through the nose.
5. In the beginning, do not retain the breath after inhalation. When the process of inhalation is over begin exhalation at once. When you have sufficiently advanced in your practice, you can slowly retain the breath from five seconds to one minute according to your capacity.
6. When one round of three deep breathings is over, you can take a little rest, ‘Respiratory pause’ by taking a few normal breaths. Then start the second round. During the pause, stand still in a comfortable position with hands on hips. The number of rounds can be fixed according to the capacity of the practitioner. Do 3 or 4 rounds and increase one round every week. Deep breathing is only a variety of Pranayama.
1)Abdominal Breath - also called the "Diaphramatic Breath", "Natural Breath" - allows one to breath deeply into the lungs, using the diaphragm. Begins to reset our patterns from shallow chest breathing to deep, healthy, belly breathing.
2)Dirgha Pranayama - (pronounced "DEAR-gah) also called the "Yogic Breath", "Three-part breath" and "Complete Breath" - completely fills our lungs with oxygen. expands and stretches the lungs gently, increasing lung capacity. Brings a higher level of oxygen into the blood stream
3)Ujjayi Pranayama - (pronouned OOOO-jah-yeee) "Ocean Sounding" or "Victorious" breath (in Kids Yoga we call it the "Darth Vader" breath) The sound created by this breath has been described as a "soft hissing sound" or a "gentle snore." This in one of the most important breathing techniques in yoga. Increases body heat, the sound calms and focuses the mind, allowing you to relax more deeply, can be used to either lower blood pressure and slow heart rate, OR to increase blood pressure and heart rate, depending upon whether one is utilizing the Ashtanga style of forceful ujjayi or the meditative style of slow and soft ujjayi. Used for pain reduction, insomnia, and migraines.
4)Nadi Shodhana - (pronounced NAH-dee SHOW-dhah-nah) the "Sweet Breath", "Channel Purification Breath" or "Alternate Nostril Breath"- brings balance to the right and left hemispheres of the brain
5)Kapalabhati - (pronounced kah-PAH-lah-bah-tee) "Skull Polishing Breath" - increases circulation, energizes the body, brings a high level of oxygen into the blood stream
6)Breath of Fire - "Bellows Breathing" - strengthens chest and diaphragm, loosens spine, stretches lungs, controls the breath at a different level.
7)Analoma Veloma - (pronounced annah-LOW-mah veh-LOH-mah) Advanced Breathing Technique for experienced meditators and yogis who already have an established breathing practice. Brings one to a deep, contemplative state of mind, and mastery over the physical breath.