Pranayama, also known as yogic breathing, is a practice of controlling the breath to increase vitality, reduce stress, and improve overall health. Prana means ‘life force,’ and yama means ‘control.’ Pranayama is the practice of controlling or managing the flow of this life force through breathing.
With regular practice of pranayama, one can develop an increased awareness of the breath, which can help to reduce stress, anxiety and increase overall well-being. Here’s how to do pranayama:
Step 1: Find a Comfortable Seated Position
Find a comfortable seated position, either in a chair or in a cross-legged position on the floor. Rest your hands on your knees or in your lap, and sit up tall with a straight spine.
Step 2: Close Your Eyes and Focus on Your Breath
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in and out through the nose. Focus on your breath, feeling it move in and out of your nostrils. Try to breathe deeply and slowly, filling up your lungs with each inhale and completely exhaling with each exhale.
Step 3: Start with Simple Breathing Techniques
Start with simple breathing techniques like deep breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose, filling up your lungs. Hold your breath for a few seconds before exhaling slowly through your mouth. Repeat this for 5-10 minutes daily.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate nostril breathing is another simple pranayama technique. Sit comfortably with your left hand resting on your lap and your right hand raised to your nose. Use your right thumb to close your right nostril, inhale through the left nostril, and then close the left nostril with your ring finger. Exhale slowly through the right nostril, inhale through the right nostril, close the right nostril, and exhale through the left nostril. Repeat for 10-15 rounds.
Step 4: Progress to More Advanced Breathing Techniques
Bhastrika breathing is an advanced pranayama technique. Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Inhale deeply and forcefully through the nose, filling up your lungs. Exhale forcefully through the nose as well, expelling all the air from your lungs. Repeat this for 10-15 rounds.
Kapalbhati breathing involves forcefully exhaling through the nose while inhaling in a passive manner. Sit in your comfortable posture with your eyes closed. Exhale forcefully through the nose, contract your abdominal muscles to help push air out of your lungs, and then inhale passively. Repeat this for 10-15 rounds.
Step 5: End Your Practice with Relaxation Techniques
End your pranayama practice with a relaxation technique like corpse pose. Lie down on your back with your arms and legs extended, palms facing up. Close your eyes and relax your entire body, focusing on your breath for 5-10 minutes.
Meditation is another way to end your pranayama practice. Sit in a comfortable seated position and focus on your breath. Try to keep your mind focused on your breath, and if your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath.
Tips for Practicing Pranayama
- Start slowly and progress gradually
- Don’t force the breath
- Practice on an empty stomach, or at least two hours after a meal
- Practice pranayama in a quiet, clean and well-ventilated space
- Use a timer to keep track of your practice time
Benefits of Pranayama
Practicing Pranayama regularly can have several benefits:
- Helps improve lung capacity and breathing efficiency
- Reduces stress and anxiety levels
- Improves overall well-being and promotes relaxation
- Enhances concentration and focus
- Helps in removing toxins from the body
The Bottom Line
Pranayama is a powerful practice that can help improve your physical and emotional health. Follow these steps to master your breath and start experiencing the benefits of pranayama!
Common Questions and Answers related to How to do Pranayama
- Q. Can pranayama be practiced by beginners?
- A. Yes, pranayama can be practiced by beginners, but it is recommended to start with simple breathing techniques before progressing to more advanced techniques.
- Q. What is the best time to practice pranayama?
- A. It is best to practice pranayama early in the morning or in the evening on an empty stomach, or at least two hours after a meal.
- Q. What are some benefits of practicing pranayama?
- A. Practicing pranayama can help improve lung capacity and breathing efficiency, reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve overall wellbeing and promote relaxation, enhance concentration and focus, and help in removing toxins from the body.