“Prana” means life in Sanskrit and “Ayama” means stretching. The breathing exercises to infuse our body with live giving air is called Pranayama. It is an exercise done with the right mindset to achieve maximum benefits. As air flows into our lungs from where it is picked up by blood flowing into each and every cell, this exercise has a various health benefits. Enhancement of metabolism is one of the benefit which in turn acts to reduce weight, bring glow to our skin and enhancing our overall well-being.
As part of wellness for millennial, understanding the various breathing techniques become noteworthy. I thought it appropriate to bring it out here something which has been practiced for ages. Here, we discuss the types of breathing exercises. All these breathing exercises must be done in a calm environment and when you are relatively free of worldly clutter. Start slow as this might prove to be strenuous in the beginning. To not force air to uncomfortable limits. Be patient when you begin and gradually you will be adept at it.
However, you must not attempt any of these if you suffer from any other complications like hypertension, breathing problems, heart-problems or pregnancy and you must take your physician’s opinion before performing any of them below. It is also not recommended to practice breathing exercises on a full stomach.
This is the most basic of the breathing exercise. Practice of this pranayama has calming effect on mind and body. It is a must-do after doing the next two breathing exercises below or after a strenuous work-out. This breathing exercise is more about entering your inner-world and spending time in self-realization.
The most popular of this breathing exercise is “Shavasana” or the pose of a corpse. You lie down at ease with both hands on the floor. The idea of this exercise is to be calm. Inhale and hold the breath inside for a few seconds and then exhale. Concentrate on the inhalation and exhalation. This must be done in the most calm way as possible. Keep counting your breath if you are a starter.
You can continue for 10 minutes inhaling and exhaling. Be careful to rise slowly. This is a simple breathing exercise supplying our whole body with vital oxygen besides calming our mind. Hence, it is best to practice to shed away your worries and before sleeping.
Deep breathing is practiced to calm your whole body, improve concentration and enrich the body to maximum extent with life-giving oxygen. There are various variations to this exercise and we will discuss the simplest one of them.
It is termed as Anulom Vilom Pranayama in Sanskrit and is a breathing exercise done in sitting upright position with both legs folded. Press one nostril with your thumb and inhale deep through the other nostril. Hold your breath inside for a few seconds and then exhale via the other nostril after releasing the thumb and pressing other nostril by your thumb. Then change directions with inhalation via the other nostril as continue. Continue for at least twenty counts to see yourself full of freshness.
This breathing exercise is extremely effective in calming the body. It can be practiced at any time of the day but practiced during evenings would give a good night’s sleep.
The peak of simple breathing exercise is fast breathing. These exercise invigorates the body and builds lung capacity. It also works to provide warmth in cold seasons.
The best known fast breathing exercise is Kapal Bharti Pranayama or the Shining Skull. It is practiced in sitting position with legs folded forward or best posture is with legs tucked under the body just like Muslims offering prayer. Take a deep breath through both nostrils. Exhale fully while pulling your navel back. The inhaling must be brief while exhalation must be until the maximum stretch you can pull your navel towards your spine. Continue doing this repeatedly for at least 15 counts to begin with then gradually increase the count to 30.
This breathing exercise fills your body with energy and works best to freshen up in the mornings. It warms the body quickly when facing cold climate and thereby keeps many diseases at bay.
Breathing exercises have an innumerable number of health benefits both to the body and mind. Calming the nerves is evident once you practice the first two breathing exercises. Besides, it enhances metabolism and works to detox the body. It is claimed to reduce hypertension as well. It enhances lung capacity cleaning the air passage of mucus formation.
The best benefit I gained was through the fast breathing exercise of Kapal Bharti which helped me control my pot-belly. It worked well to keep my weight in control without any strenuous exercises or following any particular diet plan.
Breathing indicates we are alive. We breathe involuntarily all the time be it walking, sitting or sleeping without paying much heed to it. However, when we concentrate on this basic function of ours, we reap great benefits. The focus here has been to open the world of such breathing techniques to everyone looking for wellness specially the working millennial.
Breathing exercises have been followed for centuries in various cultures of the world. You would appreciate this if you practice the world-popular Karate or have seen anybody practice it. Breathing exercises are a must when practicing Karate. And it is well-known to develop concentration in the practitioner.
Yoga has documented many forms of these breathing exercises. It might look complicated to the uninitiated in the beginning but practice over time will make it look quite simple. A simple sigh at the end of the day is great breathing exercise to begin with.
I encourage you to practice the simple variants as described above to quickly observe enhancement in your well-being. Would love to hear from you a to how you feel practicing them. To spread the word if you see any benefits for yourself by submitting your comment in the comment box below.