Pranayama Basics and Pranayama Types
Many people equate Prana with air or breath and. therefore, define Pranayama as the exercise of breathing. But this concept is wrong and misleading, Prana, in fact, is the vital energy which pervades each and every element of the world, whether organic or inorganic. It is, no doubt, related to the air and breath. But Prana is not only the air; it is the vital energy in the air. While talking of Pranayama, we should always keep in mind the difference between the air and the vital energy within it. The word meaning of Pranayama is the "expansion of prana". The aim of pranayama is to inspire. infuse, control, regulate and balance the Prana Shakti (vital energy) in the body.
Just as bathing is necessary for the purification of the body, similarly Pranayama is essential for the purification of the mind. Pranayama helps to improve retention power and concentration power. This in turn leads to soundness of mind and soundness of body. The liver, the stomach, the kidneys, the intestines, the digestive organ, the veins and the entire nervous system get strengthened by the regular practice of Pranayama. It brings about equanimity and helps to destroy past Samskaras. By its regular practice, one is able to control the sense organs and the mind.
Some important instructions regarding Pranayama:
1. You can do Pranayama 3 to 4 hours after meals. The most suitable and useful time for Pranayama is the morning hours on an empty stomach.
2. Do not practice Sheetali & Sheetakari Pranayama in winter. Those suffering from gastric trouble also should not do this Pranayama.
3. Do not practice Bhastrika and Surya Bhedan Pranayama in summer.
4. Nadi Shodhana and Bhramari Pranayama are very useJulJor uncertain and mentally retarded persons.
5. Deep breathing (inhaling and exhaling) and Antrik as well as Bahya Kumbnaka are very beneficial for attaining longevity.
TYPES OF PRANAYAMA
There are about 50 types of Pranayama which are described in the Shastras. Here we describe only the nine important ones:
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
Surya Bhedan Pranayama
Some of these like Bhastrika and Surya Bhedan are useful during winter, while some others like Sheetali and Sheetakari are specifically advantageous during summer. Others are good for all seasons.