Breathe in Wellness with Pranayama

Our breath is the very essence of our life. But did you know that each stroke of our breath has a profound impact on our mind, body and overall wellness? 

Pranayama (“Prana” which means breath and “yama” means control), the fourth of the eight limbs of Yoga presented by Patanjali Yoga Sutra, entails many breathing techniques that can help restore the balance in the mind and body! Researchers have documented that regular practice of pranayama is effective for improving health and wellness and has varied benefits, including:

  • Increased energy levels

Our body needs energy to perform any physical or mental activity, which we get by eating healthy food and getting adequate sleep. However, we can enhance our bodily energy by practicing pranayama regularly. Pranayama brings energizing oxygen to every cell of the body, cleaning up all the digestive blockages that lead to low energy levels

  • Helps to Improve immunity 

Regular practice of pranayama helps to improve the mechanical efficiency of our respiratory system, which in turn help keep infection at bay. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicines claims that regular practice of pranayama promotes an improvement in anti-oxidants in the body, resulting in better immunity. 

  • Decreased feelings of stress

Research shows that practicing controlled breathing techniques as pranayama calms the mind and reduces stress and anxiety. 

Though pranayama should be practiced under the guidance of an experienced teacher who understands your capabilities, there are certain simple techniques you can try as long as you are in good health. 

Here are four simple pranayama techniques to help you get started on the path of connecting to your inner self and enhanced wellness. 

  1. Bhastrika Pranayama 

In Bhastrika Pranayama, you need to inhale and exhale rapidly so that your body gets the maximum amount of oxygen. This breathing technique helps to – increase the circulation of blood in the entire body, helps relieve depression and energize the mind and body.  

How to Perform:

  • Sit in Padmasana, Vajrasana or Sukhasana with your body straight, shoulders relaxed and spine erect. 
  • Close your eyes, rest your hands on knees
  • Take in a deep breath and breathe out rapidly through the nose
  • Inhale and exhale repeatedly and deeply. During inhalation, the abdomen moves out and the diaphragm descends. The converse of this happens while exhaling 
  • The process should be rhythmic and controlled 
  • Repeat 10 cycles to complete 1 round of pranayama

  1. Kapalbhati 

This vigorous yoga breathing exercise helps to maintain weight, cleanse out toxins from the body and relaxes your mind. 

How to Perform:

  • Sit in the Padmasana, close your eyes and keep the spine straight.
  • Now inhale deeply through your both nostrils until your lungs are full of air.
  • Exhale through both nostrils forcefully (your stomach will go deep inside).
  • Repeat this process for 5 minutes.
  1. Bhramari Pranayam 

Bhramari Pranayama can help you calm your mind, improve concentration and build confidence. It also helps in balancing emotions, getting relief from headaches and improving concentration.

How to Perform:

  • Sit in Padmasana or Sukhasana 
  • Put your palms on your ears and close the eyes.
  • Start inhaling through both nostrils until the lungs are full of air. 
  • Next exhale slowly without opening your mouth fully, making a deep humming OM sound from the throat. Feel the vibration. 
  • The humming sound produced is similar to the humming sound of the bee hence the name Bhramari 
  1. Anulom Vilom

Anulom Vilom cleans the blocked channels in the body and lets the prana flow freely. This breathing technique is very helpful in treating respiratory-related illnesses like asthma and managing mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress and depression.

How to Perform:

  • Sit in Padmasana with eyes closed and hands rested on your knees.
  • Close the right nostril with the right thumb and slowly inhale air from the left nostril until your lungs are full.
  • Retain the breath for a few seconds 
  • Remove your thumb from the right nostril and exhale.
  • When exhaling, use your middle finger to close the left nostril
  • Now inhale with your right nostril with the thumb on the left nostril. 
  • Exhale with left nostril 
  • Focus on your breathing
  • Repeat this process for 5 minutes.

Take Away 

Pranayama help rejuvenate every cell of the body. The benefits of practicing it regularly are countless. Include pranayama in your daily routine, no matter what your age is and experience a positive change at physical and psychological level. 

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