Pranayam’s (Science of Breathing) role in Yoga.

Pranayam is the science of breathing or it is a disciplined way of controlling the breath. It has three stages.

1) breath-in or poorak

2)  the pause in breath before breathing in or after breathing  or  also called the kumbhak. Kumbak or the pause occurs twice in one breathing cycle.- that is once after breathing in & again after breathing out. Kumba means a pot. It has two ends – a.) when the pot is full     b.) When the pot is empty.The pot may be taken as the lungs. Beyond these two stages either filling or emptying can not be continued.

3) Breath out or rechak.

Controlled and stable breathing or the rhythmic breathing calms the nervous system, strengthens the respiratory system &  cures desires.The first step in Yoga is to learn rhythmic breathing. It takes time to learn & master it. Start by taking deep, slow  breath and stable breaths. Once this is learnt, Khumbak should be started. Yogi believe that pranayam liberates from bondage of material desire and unites one with God.

During the the practice of Pranayam the eyes are to be closed for getting the best result. Closing eyes cuts off the material world that is outside and at the same time it connects the mind to inner world of the Creator. Shutting off eyes brings mind and Prana together thus one learns & tap happiness ( khushi)

It is noticed that one nostril is usually blocked in the morning the recommended time of the regular practice of Yoga. It will be prudent & necessary to correct this condition. One should turn to side,  on which the nostril is blocked. Start deep breathing even if it is uneasy with one nostril.  After about  two  minuets the nostril is cleared. Lie on your back horizontally and ensure both the nostrils are clear. In case it is not,  repeat the same procedure until both nostrils are cleared. This clearance may also be done by following mild salted lukewarm water washing of the Nostrils.This is called Jal neti ( water washing of the nostril). Special water kettles are usually available at Yoga centres.

The main aim of Yoga is to control the mind. Yogis initially learn Paranayam in order to control breathing. That in turn gives him the ability to subjugate his sense organs. When sense organs are under control then the mind is able to withdraw into itself. At that time ready to enter the next stage of Meditation or Samadhi.

The mind has two states the Pure and Impure. The pure mind is in vibrant  & upswing of spirit mode or in ‘chardi kala’. One is free of lethargy and unsteadiness and reaches the state of nothingness, free of all desires and is into Samadhi.

In state of Meditation or Samadhi, one’s consciousness merges with the Universal goodness or the almighty God. It is not in any way the state of lust or fleeing from the ground reality. You face life with a spirit of doing good for all.The sense organs are under the control of Chitta (Mind). So, ultimately,   the union of Prana and the mind( chitta) brings one to be a Yogi.

Harinder

Former Sailing Sea Captain at V.Ships, Miami, FL, USA (retired in 2009). Studied BA (Sophomore) at The Principia, now lives in Jaipur, India

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