Yoga for Beauty and Health

Pranayama - (Breath Control)

'Prana' means breath and 'yama' means the regularization. Systematic technique of breathing is Pranayama.

Importance of Pranayama: Much importance has been attached to Pranayama in Yoga Sutras. 'Manu' says just as gold and other metals melted in fire become pure so also the sense organs of the body get rid of all impurities by Pranayama. The Pranayama is the fourth and very important stage of Ashtanga yoga shown by Patanjali. Yoga without Pranayama is not at all considered as Yoga. Bathing is necessary for purifying the body and similarly Pranayama is necessary to purify the mind.

Advantages of Pranayama:

1. It keeps the body fit and healthy. Burns out excessive fat.
2. One can live long ; it improves the memory power and eliminated the mental disorders.
3. It tones up the stomach, liver, the bladder, the small and large intestines and the digestive system.
4. Pranayama purifies the tubular channels and removes sluggishness from the body.
5. It kindles the gastric fire, the body becomes healthy and the inner voice begins to be heard.
6. The constant practice of Pranayama strengthens the nervous system. The mind becomes calm and capable of concentration.
7. It rouses spiritual power after constant practice.

For effective and proper results the aspirant should follow:

1. The Pranayama should be practiced in a clean airy place. It should be practiced in complete solitude.
2. The best time for practice is early morning.
3. Pranayama is best done sitting on the floor. The postures are Padmasana or Siddhasana.
4. Before doing Pranayama, other asanas should have been completed so that your tubular channels would be clean.
5. At regular chosen time with empty stomach one has to practice Pranayama.
6. Do not practice this if your exhausted or ill.
7. Do not take bath just after the Pranayama. Wait at least 1/2 hour.
8. No forcible inhalation or exhalation should be done. Mild rhythmic inhalation and exhalation should be there.
9. The beginner should practice inhaling and exhaling only for a few days. The ratio of inhaling (puraka) and exhaling (rechaka) should be respectively be 1:2.
10. The time for retention of breath (kumbaka) should be increased gradually. In the first week, it should be for 4seconds only; the second it should be eight and in third it should be twelve seconds. In this way one should increase the retention capacity gradually to his maximum comfortably possible.
11. While inhaling, retaining the breath and exhaling, one must not feel and suffocation or strenuous effort.
12. Maintain a ratio of 1:4:2 for inhaling, retention and exhaling to start with. Slowly increase the timings in the same ratio for higher timings i.e., 2:8:4 or 4:16:8 etc. Have the practice of counting 1 for one 'Omkara sound - OM'. Let your time taken for inhaling be 1 omkara. Retain the breath for 4 omkaras and exhale it for 2 omkaras.
13. Do not give up the practice even if you commit some mistakes. Naturally you will be corrected by your experience and inner self.

A detailed information can further be gathered in the following sites:

1) Holisticonline

2) ABC-of-Yoga breathing