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eight limbs of pranayam

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Pranayam

Pranayama is an aspect of Yoga, that deals with breathing. Pranayama is a method of controlling prana or life force through the regulation of breathing. It is the breathing process or the control of the motion of inhalation, exhalation and the retention of vital energy.

 

  • Anulom-Vilom:


Purpose - The main characteristic of this pranayama is the alternate breathing through the left and right nostril without holding the breath.
Execution -

  • Sit comfortably in padmasana or in any suitable meditative asana (vajrasana, padmasana, ardhpadmasana ), with straight back
  • Make special mudra(position) of right palm by folding and supporting the index and middle finger together at the bottom of the thumb, the ring finger and small finger are used for closing the left nostril. The right nostril is closed with the help of the thumb.This mudra is known as the pranav mudra.
  • Close the right nostril by thumb, Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril. The force and the flow of breath is maintained uniform till the inhalation (expanded abdominal) is completed. This is puraka (inhale) phase. At the end of the puraka, the left nostril is immediately closed with the help of ring finger and little finger. Since the right nostril was already closed before puraka, now both the nostrils are closed.
  • Then Jalandhara bandha (bend head forward and press the chin against the upper chest) is applied and breath is retained according to one's capacity. This is kumbhaka (retained breathing) phase. The right nostril just by removing the thumb from it and starts exhaling slowly and smoothly through the right nostril for proportionate duration. This is rechaka (exhale) phase.
  • Now, close the left nostril by ring finger and small finger, the next puraka (inhale) is done through the right nostril. After doing kumbhaka (retained breath) as before, the rechaka(exhale) is performed through the left nostril. This is considered as one round of nadishuddhi pranayarna. Such 3,7,10 or even more rounds are gone through at a stretch. Puraka (inhale) phase is deeper and slow (deergha and manda while rechaka phase is still more prolonged and slower (pradeergha and manda Jif-) in nature. This helps to maintain a ratio of 1:2:2 or 1:4:2 for puraka, kumbhaka and rechaka. Breathing is however very smooth and without any frictional sound.

Benefits-

  • It ensures extra supply of oxygen.
  • It enhances mood, by lowering the stress level.
  • It balances nadis, ida and pingala nadi.

Guidelines/cautions -

  • When there is moderately strong desire to release the breath, one opens at the slightest sign of discomfort, reduce the duration of inhalation.
  • Breaths should not be foreceful.
  • While closing the nostril either during puraka or rechaka one should remember not to press the nostril so hard as to distort the rip of the nose, only soft part of nostril is to be pressed against the middle partition.
  • Only thumb is used to close the right nostril and other (ring and little) finger to left nostril.
  • Wait at least three-four after meal before starting pranayama, because food in stomach places pressure on diaphragm and lungs.
  • Surya Bhedi

 

Position:

1. Sit in a comfortable posture, keeping the head, neck and spine in a straight line.

2. Place the right thumb on the right nostril, the right index finger between the eyebrows and rest the middle finger against the left nostril.

 Steps:

First Method:-

1. Close the left nostril and slowly inhale through the right nostril, filling the lungs completely.

2. Retain the breath for a few seconds, and then, closing right nostril, exhale completely through the left nostril, pausing momentarily before repeating the process, repeat nine times.

 Second Method:-

1. Inhale through the right nostril, retain it, then exhale through the same nostril, pausing without retention or pause.
 

Time:
 Start with three pranayama, extending this to twenty-seven; nine in the morning, nine at noon and nine in the evening per day.
 
 Benefits:

It reduces wind and mucus and increases bile and digestive power.

It helps in gastric fire, cold and asthma.

 Caution:
  It enhances heat, so it should not be practice it to pacify these conditions, but those laden with bile should practice this exercise in moderation.

  • Ujjay

Benefits: Concentrates and directs the breath, giving asana practice extra power and focus.
This pranayama is most often used in association with the practice of yoga poses, especially in the vinyasa style. Vinyasa yoga is breath-synchronized movement, and the breath used is Ujjayi breath. Learn this breath while seated in a comfortable cross-legged position. Once you feel confident, begin to use it during asana practice.


1. Inhale and exhale deeply through the mouth.

2. On the exhales, begin to tone the back of the throat, slightly constricting the passage of air. Imagine that you are fogging up a pair of glasses.

3. Once you are comfortable with the exhale, begin to apply the same toning of the throat to the inhales. This is where the name of the breath comes from: it sounds like the ocean. (It also sounds like Darth Vadar.)

4. When you are able to control the throat on both the inhale and the exhale, close the mouth and begin breathing through the nose. Continue applying the same toning to the throat that you did when the mouth was open. The breath will still make a loud noise coming in and out of the nose. This is Ujjayi breath.

5. Now start to use this breath during your practice. If the teacher tells you to move on an inhale, make it an Ujjayi inhale. If you need a little something extra while holding a pose, remember this breath.
Another way to think about Ujjayi Breath is to visualize your throat as a garden hose, with the breath passing through like a trickle of water. If you put your thumb partially over the opening of the hose, you increase the power of the water that is coming through. This is the same thing you are doing with your throat during Ujjayi breathing. The air that comes in through your constricted throat is a powerful, directed breath that you can send into the parts of your body that need it during yoga.

  • Seetkari

Benefits of Seetkari Pranayama :

         1. The practice enhances the beauty of the practitioner and vigour of his body. It removes
         hunger, thirst, indolence and sleep..
         2. It prevents the bile from increasing.
         3. Hardness of the tonsils is also removed by it.
4. Practicing this breathing exercise relieves a bout of pain
caused by arthritis.
         5. With regular practice of the Pranayama the mental and physical powers of the performer 
         increase.
         6. It makes you invincible.

 

Method Seetkari Pranayama :

1. Sit in Padmasana or Siddhasana and roll the tongue upward in such a way that it’s tip touches the upper palate and it’s mid part touches the lip.
2. Now suck in the air with an audible. Si..S-..Si.. sound.
3.Then retain the breath as long as possible. Ultimately exhale the breath through both the nostrils.

  • Sheetali

Benefits:

1. Useful in Treating Fever
2. Good for liver, spleen and is a good blod purifier.
3. Reduces tension and high blood pressure.
4. Cools the nervous system.
Steps:
1. Sit comfortably in any meditative posture. Sit erect. Keep both palms on the knees in Gyan Mudra.
2. Draw out the tongue. Roll it up from the sides to form a tube like opening.
3. Slowly suck the air through it and fill the lungs completely.
4. After full inhalation withdraw the tongue and close the mouth.
5. Hold the breath for sometime and then slowly exhale through the nose. Repeat required number of times.
Caution: Pranayama must be learnt under expert guidance and after consultation from your physician.

  • Bhastra (Bhastrika pranayama)

Procedure: Take deep breaths and then completely breathe out.
Duration: 2 mins atleast. 5 mins maximum.
Benefits : helps in heart, lungs, brain, depression, migraine, paralysis, neural system. increase aabha.

Sit in a comfortable Asana. Breathe in through both the nostrils forcefully, till the lungs are full and diaphragm is stretched. Then breathe out forcefully also, but see that the abdominal cavity does not blow up due to the air breathed in. Depending upon the capacity and health of an individual, this Pranayama can be done in three variable speeds viz. slow speed, moderate speed and at high speed. Individuals with weak lungs and heart should do this at a slow speed while performing Recak and Puraka A healthy individual and one used to doing it, should do it initially at a slow speed and then gradually increase the speed to moderate and then high. This Pranayama should be done for 5 to 10 minutes.

  • Bhramari

Bhramari has many other benefits.

1. Helps remove tension in the mind
2. Reduces the blood pressure
3. Helps get rid of tension and pain in the head
4. Calms the mind, reduces anger
5. Strengthens the throat

Bhramari is a large bee. In this kind of pranayama a sound in made like a humming bee. It is a good choice for beginners or those suffering anxiety because of the calming effect of the vibration and the lengthening of the breath.

Keep the head straight rather than dropping it to the chin. When the chin is down the sound is suppressed.
In Bhramari Pranayama the mouth is kept closed making it slightly different than Aums which is usually done with the mouth open.
Stage 1 - Bhramari Pranayama

1. Inhale allowing the breath to enter as easy as possible.

2. Exhale makes a sound similar to a bee.
Stage 2 - Bhramari Pranayama
1. Inhale restricts the air flow to make the sound "SSSSS". Keep the sound constant and smooth.

2. Exhale makes a sound similar to a bee.
Stage 3 - Bhramari Pranayama
1. Inhale restricts the air flow to make the sound "SSSSS".

2. Hold at the top of the breath. Gradually increase the time of the retention (Antara Kunbhaka).

3. Exhale makes a sound similar to a bee.
Stage 4 - Bhramari Pranayama
1. Inhale restricts the air flow to make the sound "SSSSS".

2. Exhale makes a sound similar to a bee.

Exhale and hold after exhalation. Gradually increase the time of the retention (bahya Kumbaka).
Stage 5 - Bhramari Pranayama
1. Inhale restricts the air flow to make the sound "SSSS".

2. Hold at the top of the breath. (Antara Kunbhaka)

3. Exhale makes a sound similar to a bee.

4. Exhale and hold after exhalation. ( Bahya Kumbaka )
Stage 6 - Bhramari Pranayama
1. Inhale through both nostrils partially blocked.

2. Exhale makes a sound similar to a bee.

When a comfortable breathing rhythm is found introduce the retentions. Begin mild retention after inhalation (Antara Kunbhaka) then after some time introduce retention after exhalation (bahya Kumbaka). Increase their time slowly so that comfortable breathing rhythms are found always.
Stage 7 - Bhramari Pranayama
1. Inhale through a partially blocked right nostril. The left nostril is completely blocked.

2. Exhale makes a sound similar to a bee.

3. Inhale through a partially blocked left nostril. The right nostril is completely blocked.

4. Exhale makes a sound similar to a bee.

When a comfortable breathing rhythm is found introduce the retentions. Begin mild retention after inhalation (Antara Kunbhaka) then after some time introduce retention after exhalation (bahya Kumbaka). Increase their time slowly so that comfortable breathing rhythms are found always

 

8. Murchha

Through this Pranayama the performer attains Murchhavastha the state of unconsciousness or coma and his mind becomes free of all the feelings. Hence this Pranayama is called as Murchha.

Method for Murchha Pranayama:

1. Sit down in Posture that best suit you and inhale breathe through both the nostrils. Retain the breath.
2. Do Jalandhara Bandha by pressing the chin against the chest. Retain the breath till you expect fainting and then exhale slowly.
3. This is Murchha Kumbhaka as it makes the mind senseless and gives happiness. But this is not suitable for many.
4. This exercise is recommended only for those already well advanced in the use of other breathing techniques.
 
Benefits of Murchha Pranayama:
   1. The mind becomes free of all the feelings and the performer experiences joy.
   2.  Through this Pranayama, thoughts and resolution decreases in the mind, and a person    
        experiences the feeling of non-existence.