Pranayama, how it can be beneficial for your overall health?

Aug 01, 2023 ● Chirag Saxena

In India, pranayama is considered an old breath method that initiates from yogic practices. With time, it has attained huge popularity in Western world due to several health benefits offered by pranayama practice. Also, pranayama involves controlling your breath in diverse styles and lengths.

Pranayama means working in a dimension of prana. When it comes to your physical and subconscious layers, prana is the most essential energy required without which your body can pass away. It is prana or life force that is responsible for encouraging mind and keeping your body alive.

What do you understand by pranayama?

Pranayama is the fourth anga (limb) of yoga that is often practiced with pranayama yoga. It is believed that by controlling your breath, you can also control power of your mind.

The term “Pranayama” originated from Sanskrit terms “Prana” and “Ayama” which means “breath” and “expansion”. Yoga breathing exercises also known as prana aid in controlling your life force.

Pranayama is a deep breathing exercise that comes from Indian yogic traditions and dates back thousands of years. It involves controlling your breath in different lengths, durations as well as frequencies. Main motive of pranayama is to connect your body and mind.

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Apart from purifying your body of toxins, it also gives body ample oxygen and is aimed to have physiological effects that promote healing. A cycle of pranayama yoga basically has three stages:

  • Puraka (Inhalation)

  • Kumbhaka (Retention)

  • Rechaka (Exhalation)

What are various types of pranayama?

There are different types of pranayama that can be practiced easily and at any time of day. Here are some types of pranayama:

  • Bhramari Pranayama

    Bhramari Pranayama also called Humming Bee Breath, is a yogic breathing exercise that calms your nervous system and helps in reconnecting with self.

  • Kapalbhati Pranayama

    Kapalbhati Pranayama is mainly a yogic breathing exercise that is derived from Sanskrit terms Kapal means skull and Bhati means to shine. A major benefit of this pranayama is to detoxify your body and clear energy channels.

    Also, Kapalbhati Pranayama is for people with an intermediary to progressive breathing levels. It rejuvenates your circulatory and neural systems by firming your chest and rinsing your abdominal organs.

  • Bhastrika Pranayama

    Bhastrika pranayama is mainly an encouraging deep breathing exercise. The Sanskrit name of Bhastrika means “bellows” meaning inhaling and exhaling of lungs and abdomen while exercising. It stimulates your body’s and mind’s internal fire, assuring healthy digestion on all levels.

  • NadiShodhan Pranayama

    NadiShodhan Pranayama calms and centers your mind by producing harmony between hemispheres of your brain. Also, NadiShodhan is a strong deep breathing exercise that offers multiple advantages of pranayama.

    If we talk about NadiShodhana, its main objective is to balance system as a whole along with cleansing and purifying channels of your mind-body. It balances all three doshas and is a perfect exercise for everyone.

Which is the right time to practice pranayama?

Is there any time of the day that is good for Pranayama? If so, then how much does the hour of day is best for your practice and are there any other factors that matter more? Well, here is answer to all your questions.

There are some times of the day that are more suitable for practicing pranayama. However, best time is early morning, and here are some reasons behind it:

Morning is the time of the day when your body gets longest time to digest last meal.

Early in morning, everything is calm when compared to other times of day as most people haven’t begun their day.

After a good night’s sleep, you are in a state of relative mental calm naturally.

As sun rises above horizon, there is an amazing energetic charge present in atmosphere. In India, this time is considered Brahmamuhurtha.

Therefore, time of the day is one major factor that can have an impact on your pranayama.

How practicing pranayama every day can change your life?

Pranayama aids you to learn right technique of breathing which is uniform, rhythmic, slow, and balanced. Once you learn to control your breath, it becomes easy to control functioning of body. This further assist in developing a connection between soul, mind, and body.

Prana or breath is connected with your mind and soul closely. Remember pranayama is not only a set of breathing exercises that offer lungs extra oxygen but also positively affects your nervous system and body.

Here are some benefits of practicing pranayama every day:

  • Boost lung capacity

    Once you start practicing pranayama every day, collected stale air is removed from lungs. Chest wall expansion and oxygen levels also get increased and respiratory muscles are strengthened.

    Fast breathing pranayamas such as Kapalbhati and Bhastrika empower your respiratory muscles and expand & contract quickly. As a result, functioning of your lungs is improved.

  • Increase mental focus and mental clarity

    Pranayama practice is meditative and keeps your mind occupied. For several people, pranayama is also an entry door to meditation. Pranayama sharpens your mind and increases your ability to focus. In this way, your doors to understanding also open. Mental clarity and focus are one major benefits of Pranayama.

  • Improve your immune system

    Pranayama practice includes diaphragmatic breathing exercises which keep digestive system occupied, including 80% of immune tissue. Practicing deep pranayama breathing allows you to improve and strengthen your body’s immune response.

  • Increase patients and reduce anxiety

    In case, you feel restless or anxious then Pranayama can help. This practice will slow your pulse, allow you to focus, and bring inner stability as well. Once you are successful in attaining this inner anchor, you can start breathing with patience once again. As a result, anxiety is reduced.

  • Better digestion

    Several studies have confirmed that regular pranayama practice can play a vital role in managing chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as well as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GRD).

So, if you want to attain a balanced state of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being then start practicing pranayama today.