Air Flow Into The Lungs Must Follow Which Path All About Yoga Breathing – The Art of Pranayama

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All About Yoga Breathing – The Art of Pranayama

‘Stress’ is another name of life in present times. This leads to improper breathing or lack of oxygen in the body. When the body is starved of oxygen, it becomes a haven for diseases related to the heart and other vital organs. Yoga breathing or pranayama refers to a combination of exercises used to gain control over the breath. “Prana” symbolizes “life force” and “Yama” means “control”. Pranayama, therefore, is systematic breathing with the aim of controlling the breath and rejuvenating the body by completely eliminating diseases.

Breathing Process – Different Stages

Ancient yogis developed the breathing exercises of Nadisodhana, Shitli, Kapalbhati, Viloma and Ujjayi. It takes some time before you start seeing the benefits of this exercise on your body. Pranayama comes with different difficulty levels and to practice properly, you need to be trained by a yoga expert initially. Improper practice of this exercise can lead to lung related diseases.

Pranayama exercises work by improving or tuning the following 4 stages of breathing:

a) Puraka – Inhalation or oxygen intake stage

b) Abhyantara Kumbhaka – pause before exhalation or release of carbon dioxide

c) Laxative – exhalation stage

d) Bahya Kumbhaka – pause after exhalation

Improving the state of breathing through pranayama

A fast-paced life, full of stress, leads to improper implementation of the 4 basic steps of breathing. People who practice yoga can control their breath for a long time. They achieve it by regular practice of the following levels of pranayama:

a) Adham – Basically you start with Adham as a beginner. You perform puraka for 12 seconds, followed by kumbhaka for 48 seconds and laxative for 24 seconds.

The ratio of puraka, kumbhaka and rechak should remain 1:4:2 for all levels of pranayama.

b) Madhyama – After completing Adhmala, you proceed to Madhyama by performing Puraka for 24 seconds, followed by Kumbhaka for 96 seconds and Rechaka for 48 seconds.

C) Uttam – After perfecting the medium, you move to the advanced stage of pranayama, also known as “Uttam”. Here, you perform Puraka for 32 seconds, followed by Extended Kumbhaka for 128 seconds and Extended Rechak for 64 seconds.

Once you master the art of Uttam, you can attain Keval Kumbhaka status. This means holding the breath for as long as desired and resting. In this state, the body is freed from all kinds of diseases.

General guidelines should be followed while practicing Pranayama

You should wear loose clothing to allow unrestricted flow of air through the body. You should keep the stomach empty for 3 hours before starting Pranayama exercises. Sit up straight with your neck in line with your spine. It helps in proper breathing.

Enjoy pranayama. You should practice, but don’t exhaust yourself. Start slowly and take smooth and consistent breaths to avoid any jerking while breathing. As soon as your breathing becomes a little uneven, stop and let your breathing return to normal.

Asthma and heart patients should consult a doctor before starting breathing exercises or the art and science of pranayama.

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