This is a compound word – Prana + Ayama – which means regulation or channelization of life energy or cosmic energy.
Our Rishis(sages) found that we hardly utilise 25 percent of our lung capacity due to improper breathing habit and as a result suffer from respiratory problems such as wheezing, asthma, sinusitisand dust allergy.
Pranayama is a legacy left by our rishis and the following are the benefits:
- 1Helps in utilising the lung capacity fully thereby insulating us from all respiratory hazards such as wheezing, sinusitis, and asthma without a need for medication.
- 2Rejuvenates all the internal organs of the human body.
- 3Extends the life span by cutting down the breathing rate per minute.
- 4Brings better body and mind co-ordination.
- 5Helps in controlling the mind.
- 6Reduces the ego.
- 7Creates a distaste for undesirable habits like smoking, alcoholism etc.
Classification of Pranayama
Vibhaga or Sectional Pranayama
This consists of Kanistha, Madhyama and Jyeshta Pranayama and helps to rejuvenate the coarser parts of the human organs.
This comprises Dhyana Mudra, Chinmaya Mudra, Adi Mudra, Meru Danda and Poorna Mudra Pranayama. These help to rejuvenate the subtler parts of the human organs.
|1. Dhyana Mudra||2. Chinmaya Mudra||3. Adi Mudra|
|4. Meru Danda||5. Poorna Mudra|
Variations in Pranayama
It is possible to practice the Mudra Pranayama a little differently and use it as first aid for one-sided headaches, earache, toothache, dragging pain down the hips, lower back pain, spondylitis, and backache and prevent paralytic strokes and heart attacks. For this, one has to use the appropriate mudra on the side that one has a problem and bypass the other side by placing the palm facing upward. This should be practiced till the pain disappears.
Bhastrika and Mahat Pranayama help in flushing out all toxins from the body and according to Adi Shankara, the regular practice of the three Bandhas or locks will ensure perfect health.
The Bandhas are:
- 1Udhyana (navel) Bandha
- 2Jalandhar (neck) Bandha
- 3Mooladhara (anus) Bandha
Using Sound to Heal
The loud and clear repetition of particular sounds, used by yogis for hundreds of years, has healing value.
‘OM’ – pronounced o-o-o, u-u-u, m-m-m – vibrates through the spine to vitalise the whole body. The sound ‘OM’ not only helps in rejuvenating the whole body, it also very effectively prepares one for meditation.
In yogic thinking, our body is made up of five elements – fire, air, ether, earth and water. Each of our five fingers represents one of these elements.
- 1The thumb represents fire.
- 2The index finger represents air.
- 3The middle finger represents ether or space.
- 4The ring finger represents earth.
- 5The little finger represents water.
The ten mudras – Prana, Jnana, Bayou, Prithvi, Surya, Varun, Linga, Shunya, Apana Vayu and Apana can be practiced by all for general health and life-threatening illnesses.
An exercise to increase the blood flow to the brain and stimulate the endocrine glands for enhancing the cognitive function is also taught in the AGY program. This exercise is to be practiced every day for two to three minutes.