Pranayama aims at bringing the involuntary functions of the respiratory mechanism within human control. The term pranayama has been constituted by two words: Prana + Ayama. Prana is the vital force which pervades the whole cosmos. Prana is more subtle than air and can be defined as the energy essence that is within everything in the universe. Prana is the principle of development and sustenance both of the nervous and cellular tissues of the body and the mind.
Pranayama is control of Breath”. One can control the rhythms of pranic energy with pranayama and achieve healthy body and mind. In the process of breathing when the prana air is inhaled, definite action takes place. One is related to the ingestion of oxygen into the alveoli and the other to the ingestion of the nervous energy into the brain system. Ayama means to control or to give a rhythm or a definite flow. In this sense Pranayama may be defined as a process and technique through which vital energy can be stimulated and increased: and this brings about perfect control over the flow of Prana within the body.
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. As people have attraction towards Yogasanas, similarly they have attraction to pranayama. The process of pranayama is concerned with the breathing, the indicator of life. And therefore, if it is done wrongly, it may do harm to the person. This fear dissuades many from taking up pranayama. The second reason for its unpopularity is the absence of teachers who can teach it scientifically. However, it is true that if one does pranayama unscientifically, without proper guidance, one certainly suffers. But it does not mean that it is such a difficult process, that it cannot be done by a common man. On the contrary, if it is learnt and practiced under an expert’s guidance, one learns soon and experiences the wonderful and even unimaginable benefits.
Important Instructions for Pranayama:
- Place for pranayama should be clean, peaceful and airy.
- Pranayama should not be performed under a fan on full speed.
- Pranayama should be done in morning hours preferably before the dawn.
- Body must be cleansed before sitting for Pranayama.
- Duration of Pranayama should be increased gradually and gradually.
- One should not sit for Pranayama after meals. At least a gap of 3-4 hours is essential.
- Pranayama should be practiced after Asans and before Meditation.
- One should not strain the body.