When we breathe out, we throw out waste from the body, thus detoxifying ourselves. This is a natural function that our body performs to throw poisons out of our system so that the body works at its optimum. The ultimate is keeping the mind pure, the thoughts pure and being one with nature.
What is prana?
Prana in us is not only physical but also psychological. Prana deals with energy. At its gross level, it is seen in digestion, elimination, circulation, thoughts and breathing. Breathing is the most manifested aspect of prana.
We take breathing for granted. We don’t even know that we are breathing. It is an interesting fact that breathing is actually a reflection of what is going on in our mind and body. If we could only watch our breath and the changes that occur, it would give us a good idea of what is going on inside us.
If we watch animals breathe, we would notice that there is a direct relationship between the breath and span of life. A tortoise lives for 200 years and its breathing is very slow, but a rabbit breathes rapidly and its life span is extremely short.
How prana works
The yogic techniques of pranayama help us see what is going on in our mind, emotions, subconscious drives and desires. By understanding this, we try to control them and reach a stage where the mind is completely tranquil and quiet. Thus, the understanding is more subtle than if one is in a disturbed state.
Prana can cause unusual events, unusual occurrences. It can help the mind to get steady. It can help in excellent physical health.
In yoga, pranayama is the fourth step. When there is storage of unwanted stuff in the body then the easy flow of prana is not possible. And that is why these basic techniques help in detoxification or purification of the body and mind keeping us in a happy and tranquil state.
Before beginning these techniques, always remember that just because something is good does not mean that you have to do it all day. These are techniques and not your normal breathing and hence should be done only for a short duration.
Overdoing these can be detrimental to your health. These practices should be done once or twice in a day for not more than 30 rounds, including all techniques.
In this technique, you lie down on your back, feet close to your buttocks and knees together and hands on either side of your naval region. Just allow the stomach to move up a down in a slow rhythmic fashion 20 times.
This naval area has a lot of nerves passing through it and what we are doing is relaxing this area and thereby the entire nervous system gets relaxed and strengthened. This ensures that our immune system is strong and our mind and emotions are under our control. This helps to remove unwanted things and thoughts from our body and mind.
While walking, sitting, or laying down, let your attention be on your abdominal breathing. If you have observed children sleeping or awake, you will notice that they do this breathing naturally.
Breathe in for two counts and breathe out for two counts and do it 10 times. Then breathe in for three counts and breathe out for three counts and do this for 10 counts. This is called as equal breathing and can be used to get the mind calm and in a happy state.
This interesting technique is very useful when your emotions are going out of your control, and when you are really angry and want to get back your control. Just do equal breathing and this watching of breath helps the emotions to settle down effectively and quickly.
Anuloma - viloma
This technique is basically alternate nostril breathing.
Sit straight in any meditative posture or on a chair. Keep the left nostril closed and breathe in from the right nostril [two seconds]. Hold then keep the right nostril closed and breath out from the left [two seconds].
Now breathe in from the left nostril [two seconds] and hold for four seconds keeping both nostrils closed. Then breathe out from the right nostril for two counts. Then keep both nostrils closed. This is half a round.
Now do the same, beginning from the right side to complete one full round. Now do five rounds daily.
This is a therapeutic pranayama technique, which can be used whenever there is an ache and pain in the body or when there is an imbalance of prana in our system. It cleans the toxins of the nervous system. With this detoxification, you feel energetic and regain your balance.
Tip: Anuloma - Viloma is not recommended for those with high blood pressure and heart problems.
This was published in the September 2009 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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