Pranayama is the gateway
to deeper relaxation and meditation. The regulation of breath is the
essence of Pranayama.
Pranayama, according to yogic scriptures, is the gateway to deeper
relaxation and meditation. The Sanskrit word ’prana’ means breath or
life force, while ‘ayama’ means regulation or control. Pranayama is
a scientific method of controlling the breath, leading to better health
for both mind and body. According to Patanjali, the sage who formulated
the yogic principles, the practice of pranayama develops the power of
concentration and clarity of thought. It also increases the mental and
physical powers of endurance.
By controlling the prana, one can control all the forces of the universe
such as gravity, magnetism, electricity and nerve currents. Thus prana
refers to energy as the basis of all life.
During Pranayama, inhalation (puraka) stimulates the system, enlarges
the chest cavity and fills the lungs with fresh air. Retention (kumbhaka)
plays an important role in the absorption of oxygen. Exhalation (rechaka)
returns the diaphragm to its original position and forces out the air,
which is full of toxins and impurities.
Pranayama systematically massages the abdominal muscles and tones up the
working of the organs of the body. This results in the proper flow of
vital energy to all parts of the body. It is important that the ratio
should be maintained between puraka, kumbhaka and rechaka and that this
ratio should be increased gradually.