pranayama meditation

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Your body is like the wick of a candle, and the mind is like the glow all around it. Prana is the vital energy needed by our physical and subtle layers, without which the body would perish. It is the prana or life force in us that nourishes the mind and keeps the body alive. Prana refers to the universal life force and ayama means to regulate or lengthen. Pranayama means working in the dimension of prana.

Understanding prana

Prana creates an aura around the body. It flows through thousands of subtle energy channels called Nadis and energy centers called chakras. The quantity and quality of prana and the way it flows through the nadis and chakras determine one’s state of mind.

Your body is like the wick of a candle, and the mind is like the glow all around it. Prana is the vital energy needed by our physical and subtle layers, without which the body would perish. It is the prana or life force in us that nourishes the mind and keeps the body alive. Prana refers to the universal life force and ayama means to regulate or lengthen. Pranayama means working in the dimension of prana.

Understanding prana

Prana creates an aura around the body. It flows through thousands of subtle energy channels called nadis and energy centers called chakras. The quantity and quality of prana and the way it flows through the nadis and chakras determines one’s state of mind.

If the prana level is high and its flow is continuous, smooth, and steady, the mind remains calm, positive, and enthusiastic. However, the lack of knowledge and attention to one’s breath could cause partial blockages in the Nadis and chakras. Unfortunately, this leads to a jerky and broken prana flow. As a result, one experiences increased worries, fear, uncertainty, tensions, conflict, and other negative qualities. Every problem first generates in the subtle and then surfaces on the physical level. Sickness shows up in your prana (pranic body) much before you get sick physically.

Benefits of pranayama

The regular practice of pranayama can completely change the quality of life that one is leading.

  1. Increases and enhances the quantity and quality of prana, thereby increasing our energy levels
  2. Clears blocked nadis and chakras, thereby expanding your aura and heightening the spirit
  3. Makes one energetic, enthusiastic, calmer and positive. Such a state of mind helps us in making better decisions, having mental strength when dealing with adversities and feeling happier  
  4. Brings harmony between the body, mind, and spirit, making one physically, mentally and, spiritually strong
  5. It brings clarity to the mind and good health to the body

‘Meditation & pranayama help us express ourselves better’

“The most difficult thing to do is to express our feelings correctly and to understand others’ feelings correctly. Lacking this skill is the biggest issue faced by society today, and this has to be developed. It is never perfect, some ups and downs do happen in this matter. Like, what we feel, we cannot express fully, and cannot understand correctly what others feel.

This keeps happening in life but when we become more calm and happy, we are able to understand others’ mind more and more. That’s why it is very necessary to do meditation, pranayama etc. That gives more inner clarity, and then we feel that others can understand us better, and also we can express our views better.”
– Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Types of pranayama & their application

The ancient Indian sages knew that some breathing techniques were simple to practice and brought great relaxation to the body and mind. These breathing techniques can be practiced with ease and at any time of the day on an empty stomach:

1. Is your mind buzzing with activity? Can’t stop thinking about what someone said about you? Find a quiet corner and try the Bhramari pranayama (bee breath) to apply brakes to the buzzing mind. This breathing technique is a boon for those with hypertension.

“Our breath is linked to our emotions. For every emotion, there is a particular rhythm in the breath. So, when you cannot directly harness your emotions, with the help of the breath you can do that.

If you are in the theater, you would know that a director asks you to breathe faster when you have to show anger. If you have to show a serene scene, the director would tell you to breathe softer and slower. If we understand the rhythm of our breath, we are able to have a say over our mind, we can win over any negative emotions like anger, jealousy, greed, and we are able to smile more from our heart.”
– Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the connection between breath & emotions

2. Among the breathing techniques, Kapal Bhati pranayama (skull shining breathing technique) is considered to be the most important. It is also useful for detoxifying the body and clearing the energy channels.

3. Feeling low on energy? Three rounds of Bhastrika pranayama (bellows breath) will get your energy levels soaring!

4. Can’t concentrate on the task at hand? Try nine rounds of Nadi shodhan pranayama (alternate nostril breathing technique) followed by a short 10-minute meditation. Nadi shodhan pranayama calms and centers the mind by bringing harmony between both the hemispheres of the brain.

Since the pranayamas deal with the subtle life force, it is important to practice them as taught by a certified yoga practitioner. Experimenting with these techniques is not advisable.

Practicing Yoga helps develop the body and mind, yet is not a substitute for medicine. It is essential to learn and practice yoga under the supervision of a trained Yoga teacher. In case of any medical condition, practice yoga only after consulting your doctor and a Sri Yoga teacher

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