Pranayama or breathing techniques for blissful living

Of all the activities I perform for sound health, Pranayama is my favourite one. It is a collection of breathing techniques with origins in India thousands of years ago and being practiced till date.

‘ Pranayama is a breath-control technique. In Sanskrit, pran means life and ayama means way. Pranayama can help you regulate your system, alter your mood and offer longevity. The main aspects of pranayama are inhalation, exhalation and retention. Pranayama always begins with inhalations and exhalations. This strengthens the lungs and balances the nervous system, preparing the body to hold the breath [retention]. Practising pranayama on a regular basis regulates energy flow helping us improve our wellbeing.’

The benefits of Pranayama proven scientifically are numerous:

  1. It is good for treating a range of stress related illness
  2. Some of the techniques aid weight loss
  3. It helps in relieving symptoms of asthma
  4. It helps to lower blood pressure
  5. Regular practice of pranayama helps to increase will power and improve judgement.
  6. It minimises PMS symptoms and it is a great relief during peri menopause and menopause period
  7. It is said that regular practice of pranayama can extend life
  8. Boosts the immune system

There are number of Pranayama techniques each comes with their own set of benefits Bhasthika, Kapal Bhati, Bahaya Pranayam, Anulom Vilom, Brahmari, Udgeeth, Pranav, happiness etc. My Favourite gurus for Pranayama are Baba Ramdev, Sadguru and Sri Sri. I will talk about them some other time but lets get going…

We will start with Anulom Vilom

  • Improves blood circulation. Regulates and optimizes oxygen levels in the blood.
  • Improves lung capacity, strengthens the heart and lungs.
  • Helps reduce blood pressure.
  • Beneficial in regulation and management of diabetes, obesity, asthma.
  • Relieves muscular tension, and is beneficial in management of arthritis, chronic sinusitis, blockages of nasal passages.
  • Stimulates metabolism, thus helps in many gastric and digestive ailments like constipation, acidity, ulcers.
  • Helps in effective management of migraine, insomnia, stress and hyper-tension, anxiety, anger management.
  • Improves concentration, memory, induces a sense of tranquillity and energizes the mind and body.
  • Optimizes blood flow and supply of nutrients to all vital organs. Helps improve skin and hair texture, providing a healthy glow to the skin. Prevents hair fall.

How to practice anuloma-viloma

  1. Sit in a comfortable meditative posture, either padmasana (lotus), or just with your legs crossed. Close your eyes, resting the left palm on your knees.
  2. Close the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand and inhale deeply (into the chest) through the left nostril till the count of 3.
  3. Close both nostrils with the thumb and ring finger and you’re your breath for up-to 6 counts.
  4. With the left nostril closed open the right nostril and exhale slowly through right for 6 counts. Repeat the above cycle, this time inhaling through the right, and exhaling trough the left nostril.

Practice up-to 7 rounds or for 2 to 3 minutes, to begin with, starting with a breathing ratio of 1:2:2 for inhalation: retention: exhalation.

Please watch this YouTube video for a visual tutorial
Please let me know how you get on with it!

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