Basic Concepts of Pranayama Yoga

Pranayama Practice Course

What’s inside?  

What is Prana and Pranayama Yoga

Types of prana-  The five Pranas and five Upa-Pranas

Important Concepts in Pranayama Yoga :

The Bandhas

The Chakras

The Mudras

The Nadis

Imagine you are in sitting in valley or at the top of a hill, there is no doubt that the enchanting silence and serenity of the place completely soothe your mind. Like in mindful meditation, you are completely immersed in that calmness and your roving thoughts can be curtailed. But it is impossible to go to a serene place like this whenever you feel exhausted or overstressed. With the mushroom growth of technological advancement, we should be able to bring that calmness and stillness in your mind, even sitting in a corner of your office or still managing your daily household chores. Yes, Pranayama Yoga and its various breathing techniques give you the secret key to unlock the vital energy or prana which brings all the calmness and peace you seek in your life.

What is Prana and Pranayama?

Prana literally means breath which keeps us alive. Prana is commonly interpreted as breath or the process of breathing. But according to yoga,  pranayama is the life force or the life energy which surrounds us from within and outside of us. Ayama is the regulation so the combination of these two words, pranayama means regulation of breath.  Pranayama is not a mere breathing exercise,  it means to access capability to retain the prana. Controlled breathing helps to calm the mind and releases toxins. There are several methods and breathing exercises to do that.

Pranayama comprises of these elements:

  • Poorak (Inhalation)
  • Rechaka (Exhalation)
  • Kumbhaka (Retention)
  • Antar Kumbhaka (Internal retention)
  • Bahayia Kumbhaka (External retention)

Pranayama Breathing Exercises

Types of Prana-  The Pancha Pranas and Upa-Pranas

The five types of prana are accountable for various pranic activities in the body.

The Pancha Pranas

Prana

The location of this prana is the heart so the function of this prana is for the heart which is coordinated with the inhalation of breath. It is the opposite of apana.

 Apana

Apana prana is responsible for all the evacuatory functions such as urination, defecation, ejaculation, menstruation etc. This prana is located in the pelvic region and is the basis of our immune function lymphatic system on all levels.

 Samana

Samana governs digestion on all levels. It works in the gastrointestinal tract to digest food. Its main location is the navel and solar plexus region.

 Vyana

Vyana manages the flowing of materials in our body. It moves the food, water, and oxygen throughout the body.  It is spread throughout the body.

Udana

Udana is located at the throat. It is the force in the upper body (above the heart). It governs the ability to speak and mental processes.

The Upa-Pranas

There are five upa-pranas along with the pranas

Dhananjaya (Prana)

It influences the whole body and is located near the heart. It also weighs the work of the muscles, arteries and veins, and skin. This prana is responsible for the decomposition of the body as it is the last prana to leave the body.

Naga(Apana)

Naga is the explanation for burping and hiccups. Naga becomes an integral factor when the stomach has air related issues and attempts to toss the disturbed air out of the stomach.

Devadatta(Samana)

Evadatta is liable for sneezing and aids in respiration. Devadatta is stimulated by sharp and irritating smell. It also causes pain in the nostril in more intense conditions.

KrikaraVyana

KriKrikara causes yawning, hunger and thirst, and it also assists in respiration. Krikara is useful all through fasting as starvation,  thirst, sleep and idleness are controlled.

 Koorma (Udana)

Koorma Prana keeps the eyes healthy and protected. It makes it possible to see everything and is very important during mediation as it elevates concentration.

Important Concepts in Pranayama Yoga

The Bandhas

Bandha or the locks are essential to control the prana or breath in the body. Bandhas also cleanse and energize inner organs. Bandhas are practiced to strengthen the sphincters in the physical and astral body. There are four main bandhas. Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, Jalandhara Bandha and Maha Bandha. Mula Bandha or the root lock. In this bandha, the anal sphincter is gently locked. Uddiyana Bandha locks sphincter of oddi. Jalandhara Bandha or chin lock gently locks the upper oesophageal sphincter. Maha Bandha is when all three locks are applied and can practice only after the good control of three locks.

The Chakras

The chakras are the energy centres or storage places of prana. Each prana has a different color and energy, and each one coincides with a gland in the physical body. As each chakra is associated with a specific region, it is believed that when any chakra is blocked or started malfunctioning, it can lead to physical, psychological and emotional issues in the physical body. Balancing the chakras complements our well-being.

The Mudra

Mudras are seal or gestures. In yoga, mudras are physical movements that help in deepening awareness and focus. Mudras directly correspond with the five pranas. Bandhas changes attitude or perception. Several hand gestures are used while practicing asana, pranayama and bandhas. By applying different mudras, stimulation of the energies in the body and mind happens, as each of the hand mudra corresponds to a certain part of the mind or body.

The Nadis

The Nadis are the subtle channels in the body. Nadis are commonly compared to the meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are 14 primary nadis, out of 72,000 nadis originating from Kandasthana ( can be located four fingers below the belly button) and heart.

Conclusion

The Pranayama Yoga is fully concerned with breathing. If you don’t do it correctly,  without proper guidance, it can cause harm to the practitioner. You have to master the techniques under the guidance of an expert. Prana is the life energy in a human being. If you learn the secret of perfectly channelizing this energy into the different parts of your body, you can balance and enhance the vitality of both mind and body.

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