Pranayama – The Art of Breathing
Anybody who is even remotely associated to Yoga would have heard the term Pranayama. In simple language it refers to the Art of Breathing. While breathing comes naturally to us, Pranayama is all about using this everyday function for the betterment of the body. Strange isn’t it that while people spend large no of money on getting the best of treatment, sometimes the natural acts of the body is all it takes to get better?
Pranayama is a Sanskrit term that means ‘restraint of the Prana or the Breath’. The word is formed by the coming together of two Sanskrit words Prāna, meaning life force or vital energy and “āyāma” meaning to restrain. In simple words it is all about breathing control. According to the philosophies of Yoga, Pranayama helps in infusing more oxygen to the body and to the brains thereby activating the cells in the human body to perform better. Pranayama is also believed to have healing powers.
Why the yogis have given so much importance to the simple act of Pranayama breathing is because it is the only means of supplying our organs with the necessary oxygen needed for our system to work, and work effectively. Pranayama is also the only way of removing toxins from our body. All of us know enough biology to understand why Oxygen is so vital to survival. Human body can survive without food and water for a couple of days but without oxygen life stops within minutes. Once the brain stops getting its supply of Oxygen, all vital organs in our body stop functioning. Of all the organs in our body the brain requires Oxygen the most. Without it we will suffer from mental sluggishness, negative thoughts, impaired vision and hearing problems.
Of all the things that we need to learn how to do, breathing is something that comes naturally to all of us. Even while in our mother’s womb we breather and that is how people in the world know that we are alive and safe tucked away in the womb. However, as life progresses, we get so involved in things that we need to achieve and things that we desire that we forget to pay attention to the small things happening in our body that is the most important. One of those things is breathing. While all of understand the importance of breathing and the importance of air for human survival, we seldom sit and give time for our body to breathe in and out. Yoga forces us to pay attention to such critical details.
We may not even know it but as we grow older we ourselves stop pur body from breathing freely and effectively. When we slouch our lung loses the capacity to function properly and thereby leading to poor breathing. Most of us are exposed to cigarette smoke and heavy pollution that impairs our breathing. When in a nervous state we often tend to bend forward, draw our arms together and bend our head. That is one more position that hampers our breathing. As our duties and responsibilities in the world order go up we often forget to breathe t the right intervals thereby causing innumerable problems for our body. The more we concentrate on one thing, the tenser our muscles become. This tensing of the muscles in our arms, neck and chest makes our breath shorter and therefore reduces the intake of oxygen in our body. Imagine the number of times you have waited with bated breath for a report to come out or for a something to pass by. While you may feel that stopping to breathe may help you deal with the tension, on the contrary it is harming your body and preventing it from functioning to the best of its abilities.
There are various ways in which we can make our breathing consistent and more fruitful. Pranayama teaches that. It teaches the body to relax and continue it natural cycle of breathing. Pranayama allows the free entry of fresh air into the body thereby rejuvenating the organs and making them perform better.
So the next time you have a free moment, take time to breathe in and out freely. Not only will Pranayama help release the pressures, it will also do your body good. Yoga is a living example that going to a fancy gym and following a strict diet chart is not the only way to a healthy lifestyle. Sitting at home you could have the healthiest lifestyle and your skin would be glowing only if you dedicate some time for Yoga. More on Pranayama and its importance on the next post.