What Is Pranayama
Pranayama (prana = energy + yama = control) is a type of meditation technique that involves various ways of controlling the breathing, with the goal being to withdraw ones senses from the outside world. This helps one to raise one’s prana (or Kundalini energy in this case) up the deep spine to the spiritual eye or sixth chakra, which brings one to enlightenment. Kriya Yoga is one such technique, made well known by Paramhamsa Yogananda in Autobiography of a Yogi. (1)
It is also the fourth limb of spiritual advancement as laid out in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. According to Patanjali, while practicing pranayama techniques: The emphasis while breathing (and therefore in the flow of the life-force) may be more on inhalation, on exhalation, or on stillness. It may be on space entering the body (rather than on the body’s breathing); on the timing of the inhalation and exhalation (whether rapid or slow), and on the number of counts in each inflow and outflow — whether the flow be short or long.
How Pranayama Works
The prana or energy travels upward through the ida nadi. With this upward movement, the breath is automatically drawn into the lungs. As a result, the mind is drawn outward to the world of the senses.
The energy then travels downwards through the pingala nadi. When the energy is going down, it is called apana rather than prana. This downward movement is accompanied by physical exhalation, and signifies a rejection of external circumstances.
One manifestation of this cycle is the association of inhalation with excitement and happiness, and exhalation with defeat and depression. Happiness and sadness must always follow each other when the cause of each is external circumstances, which are always changing.
However, through pranayama techniques a person can instead redirect the energy through the deep spine in between the ida and pingala, called the sushumna. When the level of energy in the sushumna reaches the top of the spine and goes into the spiritual eye, or sixth chakra, one becomes enlightened. (1)
Exercises (Breathing Meditations)
Pranic breathing (Abdominal Breathing)
Pranic breathing is the basic form of breathing meditation for anyone learning to get the hang of energy manipulation or to control their energy field. And to unlock a sense of spiritual development.
To begin 1. Sit with your spine straight, you may also stand if you wish
2. Breathe in through your nose:
A. Pushing out your lower abdominal muscles, fill the bottom part of your lungs, then
B. the middle part of your lungs, then
C. Your upper lungs
3. Hold for 5, 8 or 10 counts [whichever is most comfortable, without straining]. NEVER push this!
4. Exhale with contracting your lower abdominal muscles, then your mid-section [lower lungs], then your upper lungs, until completely empty of breath
Steps 1-4 constitute one round. Perform 5 rounds.
Kapalabhati (Forceful Abdominal Breathing)
The important thing to remember for this exercise is that your inhale is passive and your exhale is the forceful, powerful movement. Start this practice at a slow pace, and with time you can build some speed if it feels comfortable for you to do so.
- Sit comfortably in an upright posture or sit crosslegged if needed, and place your hands on your knees.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your nose.
- Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your belly with air about ¾ way full.
- In a quick motion, forcefully expel all the air from your lungs while drawing your navel in toward your spine. The primary movement is from your diaphragm.
- Allow your lungs to fill up naturally, with no effort as your belly expands.
- Perform this cycle 10 times, then allow your breathing to return to normal and observe the sensations in your body.
- Repeat these cycles of 10 movements, 3 to 4 times.
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Nadi Shodhana, also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing, is a powerful breathing practice with wide reaching benefits. Nadi is a Sanskrit word meaning "channel" or "flow" and shodhana means "purification."
1. Gently close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through your left nostril, then close it with your ring-little fingers. Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
2. Keep the right nostril open, inhale, then close it, and open and exhale slowly through the left. This is one cycle. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then release the hand mudra and go back to normal breathing.
PLEASE DO NOT STRAIN OR OVER EXERT YOUR BODY WHEN PROFORMING THESE EXERCISES OR MEDITATIONS, PLEASE PROCCED AT YOUR OWN RISK AND PACE!!! IMPROPER PRACTIECES AND TRAINING OF THESE EXERCISES AND MEDITATIONS CAN LEAD TO SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS AND EVEN DEATH IF NOT HANDLED WITH CARE! PLEASE PROCCED AT YOUR OWN RISK AND PACE, I' AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCES!
The Benefits Of Pranayama
Blood purification: Once you have mastered the art in training of Pranayama meditations, your body's blood system will become cleansed and aligned/balanced once you have mastered the proper breathing control to bring fresh and cleaner oygen/air to your blood cells and lungs. (This also includes weight-loss and toxin removeal).
Healing of injuries: Once you have mastered the art of Pranayama meditations, you will obtain the ability of healing, to heal minor to major pains, wounds, and illnesses/diseaeses in the body.
Increased stamina: Once you have mastered the art of Pranayama meditations, your body's stamina will begin to subtain for longer periods of time, even hours if highly trained.
Physical vitality: Once you have mastered the art of Pranayama meditations, your body will develope increased physical qaulities and mobility.
Altered states: Once you have mastered the art of Pranayama meditations, you will be able to alter a higher state of mind and consciousness, and will be able to discover and learn the impossible that others can't.
Emotional calm: Once your have mastered the art of Pranayama meditations, you will no longer be subject to emotional encounters, such as fear, stress, anxiety attacts, anger, etc.
Mental clarity: Once you have mastered the art of Pranayama meditations, you will develope the ability to see and read through the illusions and reality of others.
Spiritual powers (siddhis): Through the constant practice and power of Pranayama meditations, you will begin to gain the abilities of spiritual powers.
Which are the following:
Peace and well‐being: Once you have mastered the art of Pranayama meditations, you will begin to reach a state of enlightment and inner peace with yourself.
Oxygenation of the brain: With constant practice in the art of Pranayama breathing meditations, your brain will begin to take in more oxygen, balancing and stablizing both hemispheres of the brain and body.