Pranayam is mentioned in early yoga texts such as Bhagwat Gita, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Hath Yoga Pradipika.
• It comprised of two roots- Prana and ayama. Prana means “vital energy” or” life force”, ayama means to “gain control”.
• Pranayama forms an important component of Yogic practice. It is a science which helps to regulate vital energies through regulation of breathing.
• It helps in gaining control over Autonomous Nervous System.
• In it you have to control the timing, duration and frequency of every breath and hold. Thus connecting your body and mind.
•The different practices of Pranayama involve various techniques which utilise these four aspects (timing,duration,frequency&holding) of breathing.
• It supplies your body with oxygen while removing toxins. This is healing physiological benefits.
• The best time to perform Pranayama is early morning 1 to 2 hours before sunrise as the oxygen content is maximum in the air at that time. Also body is fresh and mind is relaxed and clear from any thoughts of daily routine chores. Also food of previous day is digested and empty stomach is best for Pranayama or any Yogic practice.
• The most important part of Pranayama is breath retention called as “kumbhaka”. It is gradually learnt to perform Kambhaka successfully as development of control over the function of respiration comes after long practice. Therefore, in the beginning more emphasis is given on inhalation and exhalation in Pranayama practices, which strengthens the lungs and balance the nervous and pranic systems and prepares for kumbhaka practice.
• These practices induce physical and mental stability as they are influencing the flow of vital energy(Prana) in nadis, purifying, regulating and activating them.
• The ancient yogis and rishis studied nature in detail and they came to the conclusion that animals with fast breathing rate such as birds,dogs,rabbits have shorter life span and animals with slow breathing rate like elephants, tortoise have longer lifespan. This observation made them realise the importance of slow breathing for increasing the lifespan of humans. On the physical level, deep and slow breathing is directly related to heart as it keeps heart well nourished, stronger, thereby contributing to longer life. Slow breathing increases the absorption of energy and enhance vitality and general well being.
• In “The Science of Pranayama” Swami Sivananda writes, “There is an intimate connection between the breath, nerve currents and control of the inner prana or vital forces. Prana becomes visible on the physical plane as motion and action, and on the mental plane as thought. Pranayama is the means by which a yogi tries to realise within his individual body the whole cosmic nature, and attempts to attain perfection by attaining all the powers of the universe”.
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