Did you ever notice your breath when you are angry? Generally, our breath becomes shallow and rapid when we are angry or sad. It is impossible to have a deep breath and still be angry. Our breath and emotions are closely related. Breath impacts the emotions and vice versa. If we can control our breath, we can control our emotions. This is what the Yogic Science of Pranayama teaches us.
Pranayama is a Sanskrit word. It is a combination of 2 words – Prana and Ayama. Prana means life force, and Ayama means to regulate. This entire Universe is filled with Prana, and Prana governs our life. When we breathe, we not only inhale Oxygen, but we also inhale Prana. Prana is what keeps us alive. Regulation means manipulating this Prana as per our needs. So, Pranayama is a technique that uses breath to achieve the result.
There are many types of Pranayama in Yogic Science, like Kapalbhathi, Anulom Vilom, Bhastrika, etc. Each type of Pranayama offers its unique benefits and impacts various systems of our body, like the respiratory system, endocrine system, digestive system, etc. Apart from these unique properties specific to each Pranayama, in general, any kind of Pranayama offers below benefits.
5 benefits of Pranayama:
1. Stress relief: Stress is very common in modern life and is the leading factor for various diseases, relationship breakdown etc. It is inevitable because of the hectic modern life. Pranayama provides great relief from stress. It helps in handling stress effectively and keeps stress at bay.
2. Control over emotions: It is common to be overpowered by emotions and miss the logic in a situation. That’s why we see many irrational attitudes when people are under the control of negative emotions. The regular practice of Pranayama helps us gain control over our emotions. It gives us the power to rise above our emotions and think logically, even in an emotional situation.
3. Helps to come out of negative emotions: Sometimes, negative emotions like anger, sadness, jealousy, etc. can be quite intense. When we carry negative emotions within us, they hurt us and rob our peace of mind. If we remember to practice Pranayama while going through negative emotions, we can quickly come out of the negative emotional state.
4. Improved health: Our health improves because our body releases the stress and negative emotions when we practice Pranayama. Many modern-day diseases have stress as their root cause. So, the regular practice of Pranayama enhances our health and well-being.
5. Improves meditation experience: Meditation is a journey into inner silence. This inner silence can be achieved only when our emotions are calmed down. When our emotions are not under our control, it is very challenging to enter inner silence. So, to control our emotions and calm down before meditation, one great tool that helps us is Pranayama. When we do Pranayama before meditation, it becomes easy to go into the deeper states of meditation. Meditation becomes effortless.
So, how to practice Pranayama in daily life? Below are some pointers.
1. Make sure you are on an empty stomach while doing Pranayama. Maintain a gap of at least 2 hours between your mealtime and Pranayama.
2. Sunrise and Sunrise are considered to be highly beneficial for Pranayama. So, you can practice Pranayama during these times.
3. Practice Pranayama before meditation to calm down thoughts and emotions.
4. Below are the steps of Pranayama
5. Sit in a comfortable position.
6. Touch your tongue to the palate or the soft portion on the roof of your mouth. This is called the simplified khechari mudra. This mudra helps in drawing more Prana into the system.
7. Exhale completely for 1 count. When you are exhaling, your stomach should go in like a compressed balloon.
8. Hold for 1 count. Hold is the state where you neither inhale nor exhale.
9. Inhale completely for 1 count. When you are inhaling, your stomach should come out like an expanded balloon.
10. Hold for 1 count.
11. Repeat the steps of exhale-hold-inhale-hold 7 to 9 rounds.
You can practice this simple form of Pranayama 3 to 4 times a day. Just make sure you are on an empty stomach while practicing Pranayama. You can use the above steps of Pranayama when you are under stress or going through erratic emotions as well. You will experience great relief by the time you complete 9 rounds of Pranayama.
Some daily life instances where you can practice Pranayama and reap benefits are as below.
1. Practice Pranayama before breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then sit for eating. When Pranayama is practiced before eating, you consciously eat your food and consume only as much as your body needs. Overeating cannot happen when you fill your stomach with Prana before eating. This step helps in maintaining a healthy weight.
2. Practice pranayama before sleep. It helps you sleep in a pleasant state of mind.
3. De-stress yourself after coming home from work by doing Pranayama. By doing this, you calm down and interact with your family members in a better state of mind. When you have some interview or exam, it is common to go through tension and anxiety. Use Pranayama to calm yourself down. Having a calm and relaxed mind helps greatly in tackling tough situations.
4. When someone angers you, instead of responding right away in the fit of emotion, take a break and do Pranayama. This simple step can save you from harsh speech and regrets. Once you have calmed down, then respond to the other person.
5. When you are working in an air-conditioned office, make sure that you are taking occasional breaks. Go out and do Pranayama to recharge yourself.
These are some ways in which you can recharge yourself using Pranayama.
There are many variations in Pranayama, like different ratios of inhale, exhale, hold. Some mudras and bandhas are added to make Pranayama potent. These can be learned under a competent yoga teacher. Pranayama is a great tool that can bring us many benefits. Our emotional state in life depends on the depth and pace of our breath. So, breathe deep and slow.
To read more on Pranayama, check out this fascinating book. Take a deep breath, and enjoy life!