Breathe in, hold and breathe out; is this as simple as that?

Most people believe Pranayama comprises three base elements Puraka – inhaling, Kumbhaka – retention, Rechaka – exhaling, but did you know that there is also a fourth, vital element?

Sunyaka – the pause before the next inhalation begins, and after an exhalation seizes, is an equally important element while meditating.

Here are some techniques based on these four stages of Pranayama, which when individually mastered can bestow benefits galore.

Before beginning, sit in a meditative posture with your spine erect. Keep your muscles relaxed place your hands on the thighs, above your knees. Keep your chin parallel to the ground and start inhaling after a short exhalation.

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1. The Prolonged Puraka

Inhale in such a way that inhalation is smooth and free of any jerky movements. Continue inhaling till you can or until no part of the body experiences any strain. The moment strain sets in, release the effort and breathe normally for a round or two. Continue this for 5 rounds.

Benefits:

This forces open every unused alveolus (Air Cell) in the lungs and stimulates the sluggish ones. 

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2. The Prolonged Puraka and Kumbhaka

Begin by exhaling for a short duration and immediately after start inhalation. Inhale to the count of 4 and hold to the count of 5, and then exhale the held up air in a smoothly.

Benefits:

This releases energy into the system and gives the metabolism a boost along side increasing positivity and a well balanced mind.

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3. The Prolonged Rechaka

Here, beginners can start by inhaling at the count of 2, then hold for 4 counts and exhale for 8 counts. Draw your abdomen inwards while exhaling and when the exhalation is complete suspend for 2 counts, then release the abdomen. Breathe normally between two rounds of the breathing exercise.

Benefits:

A large volume of Carbon Dioxide gets eliminated through this and also helps reduce blood pressure. Rechaka stimulates the brain and also exercises the Diaphragm, restoring its effectiveness improving ventilation of the lungs.

4. The Prolonged Sunyaka (Vaccum Breathing)

Start by inhaling to 2 counts and suspend your breath for 5 counts. Then exhale for 4 counts smoothly.

Benefits:

This Pranayama preserves the tone and elasticity of the Diaphragm and helps with a weak stomach or colon. Regular practice of Sunyaka Pranayam helps correct conditions like inflated lungs and Tachycardia. It further helps improve blood purification & circulation by applying internal pressure on the abdominal organs.

Word of caution

Persons with severe Cardiac problems, Hypertension, Asthma, Bronchitis & Abdominal Inflammation, children under the age of 12 years and Pregnant women past the fifth month of pregnancy must avoid doing these Pranayama.

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