Pranayama, the vital part of the yogic science can be called as the art of breathing for healthy living for the miraculous health benefits it proffers.
The three simple steps of Pranayama include Puraka (Inhalation), Kumbhaka (Retention) and Recaka (Exhalation). Slow and deep inhalation helps in the intake of enough oxygen for the body followed by total retention of the inhaled oxygen, which enables the system to acquire it. The final step is exhalation that is done through lungs or abdomen, where the impurities from your body are exhaled out.
The most significant health benefits of Pranayama according to Ayurveda are –
- Improves Cardiovascular health
As Pranayama increases the blood circulation and oxygen capacity of the blood, it helps improving the cardiovascular function of your body if practiced regularly.
- Reduces risk of Hypertension
Pranayama allows the body to relax and be free of stress and tensions which helps in bringing down hypertension.
- Improves Lung function
This is one of the most important health benefits of pranayama. Pranayama is the best breathing technique to get your lungs functioning properly. It is very useful for people who have breathing problems or asthma.
- Treats Depression
The health benefits of pranayama are extended to mental strength also. Practicing pranayama regularly will help treat depression and anxiety.
- Weight loss
Health benefits of pranayama are not limited to the proper functioning of your internal organs. It can also help to reduce your body weight if practised regularly.
Pranayama is an excellent method to remove all accumulated toxins from your body. Among the many methods in yoga for the detoxification of our body, Pranayama is the most popular one.
7. Strengthens Immune system
Strengthening the immune system is one of the most important health benefits of pranayama.
- Cures Digestive problems
Practicing Pranayama daily helps in alleviating digestive problems and also helps reduce bloating.
- Fight Sinusitis
Treating sinusitis is one of the most important health benefits of pranayama. Practising the pranayama technique known as Bhastrika is the best option to treat or prevent sinusitis.
- Clears Nasal passages
Pranayama helps in clearing out the nasal passages and stuffy noses.
- Improves Mental Concentration
Increased mental concentration is one of the most important health benefits of pranayama.
- Good for Skin health
Regular Pranayama can remove the blemishes and wrinkles from the skin and provide fresh oxygen making your skin glow in health.
Five Basic Types of Pranayamas
- Bhastrika Pranayama
In this pranayama, body gets the maximum amount of oxygen due to complete inhaling and exhaling.
- Sit comfortably on a flat ground.
- Take a deep breath through both nostrils and fill the lungs with air and then exhale completely with a hissing sound.
- Kapalbhati Pranayama
This Pranayama is very effective in curing stomach disorder, obesity, digestive disorder and many problems related to stomach.
- Sit on a flat floor folding your legs, keeping the spine straight and close the eyes.
- Keep the right palm on right knee and left palm on left knee.
- Now take a deep breath and exhale with all your force so your stomach will go deep inside.
- When you exhale with hissing sound try to think that your disorders are coming out of your nose.
- Do not stress on inhaling. Inhalation should not involve any effort. Inhaling will be done automatically after each exhaling.
- Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
This pranayama is one of the excellent breathing exercises which is also known as Anulom Vilom Pranayama. Regular practice offers an energy boost in the body and releases stress and anxiety. It should be practiced in the morning in fresh air with empty stomach.
- Sit comfortably on flat ground.
- Now close right nostril with right thumb and breathe from left nostril. Then close left nostril with middle and ring finger and breathe out from right nostril.
- Now closing in the left nostril breathe in deeply with right nostril and then close right nostril and breathe out deeply with left nostril. Do the repetition.
4. Bhramari Pranayama
Bhramari pranayama is the excellent breathing exercise which plays an important role in releasing agitation, frustration and anger. It is the best breathing exercise in calming your mind.
- Sit comfortably on a flat ground.
- Place your index fingers on the forehead and with the remaining fingers close your eyes.
- Start inhaling through both the nostril deeply and slowly.
- By keeping mouth close, exhale by making a humming sound like “hmmmm”. While making humming sound say ‘Om’ in soft humming sound.
- Sheetali Pranayama
Sheeta means cooling, which is exactly the effect of this pranayama. It’s a great pranayama pose for stress, anxiety and tension.
- Sit in a comfortable position with the back and head erect, hands on the knees in Jnana mudra and eyes closed.
- Make a puckered circle with your mouth then stick out your tongue and curl the edges inwards to form a tube.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through the tube as if sucking air through a straw to the count of 4.
- Fill up your abdomen and chest to full capacity.
- Retain the breath.
- Straighten your head and exhale through the nostrils until all air is expelled