“Pranayama is control of Breath”.
“Prana” is Breath or vital energy in the body. On subtle levels prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force, and “ayama” means control. So Pranayama is “Control of Breath”. One can control the rhythms of pranic energy with pranayama and achieve healthy body and mind.
Patanjali in his text of Yoga Sutras mentioned pranayama as means of attaining higher states of awareness, he mentions the holding of breath as important practice of reaching Samadhi. Hatha Yoga also talks about 8 types of pranayama which will make the body and mind healthy.
Five types of prana are responsible for various pranic activities in the body, they are Prana, Apana, Vyan, Udana & Samana. Out of these Prana and Apana are most important. Prana is upward flowing and Apana is downward flowing. Practice of Pranayama achieves the balance in the activities of these pranas, which results in healthy body and mind.
Type – 1
Keep both the nostrils open and then inhale and exhale with both the nasal passages. This type is nothing but quick breathing with both the nasal cavities. One should inhale and exhale with as much speed as possible and for as much time as feasible.
Type – 2
Take up Pranava Mudra and close the right nostril with the help of the thumb of the right hand, and inhale with left nostril and also exhale through the same nasal passage. In brief this type can be described as quick breathing with the left nostril.
Type – 3
In this type left nostril is to be closed and the quick breathing is done with the right nostril.
Type – 4
In this type close the right nostril, and inhale with the left nostril, and then immediately close left nostril and exhale with the right nostril. In this way try quick breathing by changing the nostrils.
Type – 5
This type of breathing is just opposite the previous one, that is, the left nostril is closed and inhaling is done with the right nostril, then immediately closing the right nostril, exhaling is done with the left nostril.
Type – 6
This type of breathing is designed by combining previous two types i.e., type 4 and type 5. First inhale with left nostril and exhale with right one, then inhale with right nostril and exhale with left nostril. Later continue the same process i.e. inhaling & exhaling with left and right nostrils alternately. Further switch to fast breathing by increasing the speed of breathing. After sufficient practice the speed of breathing can be increased immensely.
Initially one should start with eleven cycles of breathing, and it should be increased to one hundred and twenty one without any fear. However, later the breathing should be made a part of daily practice of other Asanas, and be practiced for two to three minutes. All these types can also be practiced with slow inhalation and exhalation. Here it is important to note that practicing these types of breathing does not mean doing Pranayama. This is simply a preparation of the actual practice of Pranayama.
I am thankful to one of my senior Mr. Sunil Kumar who have educated me on “Pranayama” and motivated me to do it regularly.