Yoga evolved in ancient India more than 4000 years back. The word
"Yoga" originates from the Sanskrit language and means, to join or
integrate, or simply union. The meaning of Yoga is union of the body, mind and
spirit with truth. Yoga encompasses the physical, mental, emotional, and
spiritual aspects of life.
In spite of all its greatness and goodness though, Yoga was never
practised on a large scale in India in the sense that the common people were not
in its ambit. It is only in the last decade or so that Yoga has spread among the
masses, thanks to Yoga Gurus like Baba Ramdev and literally tens of
millions of people in India and elsewhere are coming within its fold and
benefitting from it in a very real sense. You just speak with anyone who
practises yoga and they will quickly extoll an endless list of its
benefits and sing its praise. Housewives, businessmen, sportspeople, teenagers
and the aged are all practising a variety of yoga asanas (postures), dhyana
(meditation) and pranayama (breathing exercises). For many, yoga becomes a way
of life - often giving a more spiritual side to their lives.
The modern world scenario with its stressful life and cut-throat
competition is providing a very fertile ground for the growth and spread of
Yoga. Medical practitioners always questioned the efficacy of Yoga, but now it
is being prescribed even by doctors for health ailments and
illnesses, as a stress reliever and to complement other fitness programs. There
are numerous documented cases of yoga relieving or curing serious illnesses
such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and respiratory
illnesses like asthma, diabetes, bloodpressure, etc.
The sphere of Yoga is very very big. However, for the common man
practising Yoga, the problem is of shortage of time because of which he cannot
go into all aspects of Yoga. So two aspects become very important for him for
good health, physical fitness, flexibility and mental relaxation, viz namely
asanas (physical exercise) and pranayama (breathing exercises). Here, I will
concentrate on Pranayama.
As you all know, oxygen is the supreme necessity for our bodies and
without it we cannot survive perhaps even for a couple of minutes. There is
almost unlimited oxygen all around us. But we do not know how to get its
benefits fully as we never utilize our full lung capacity. Consequently our body
is sort of starved of oxygen. Pranayama is a technique to govern the breathing
process. Breathing is normally an unconscious process. Through Pranayama, a
person learns to consciously govern the breath to bring harmony into the body,
mind and spirit. Regular breathing exercises tremendously increase the capacity
to inhale and absorb live- giving oxygen. The capacity of the lungs even during
unconscious breathing increases. There are four breathing exercises which are
particularly helpful :
1)BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA : In this you repeatedly breathe
in to the full capacity of your lungs and then breathe out completely. Should be
done for minm. 2minutes ; maxm is 5 minutes
Helps heart, lungs, brain, nervous system, and in migraine, depression,
2)KAPALBHATI PRANAYAMA: In this breathing exercise, you exhale
completely and with force while pulling in your abdomen.
Inhaling is done in a normal manner. Should be repeated 30 times, maxm 10
Helps in diabetes, constipation, gastric problems, hepatitis B, obesity,
cholesterol, asthma, snoring and even in cancer and
3)ANULOM VILOM PRANAYAMA: This pranayama is slightly more complicated but
the benefits are enormous. (a) Close your right nasal orifice with your thumb
and breathe in deeply with your left nose. (b) Now open the right nose, close
the left nose with middle and ring fingers, and breathe out completely with your
right nose. (c) Next, breathe in deeply with the right nose, close the right
nose with your thumb, and breathe out completely with the left nose. Start again
with (a), then move onto (b) then (c).
Repeat for at least 10 minutes.
Helps in heart, high blood pressure, heart blockages, arthritis, migraine,
depression, neural system, paralysis, asthma, sinus, allergy, Parkinson's
PRANAYAMA: Here you close your ears with thumbs, keep index fingers on your
forehead and rest three fingers should cover both eyes. Breathe in deeply and
then breathe out through the nose while making a humming sound like a honey bee.
Should be done seven to ten times.
Helps in cases of tension, hypertension, high blood pressure, heart, heart
blockages, paralysis, migraine pain, etc. Improves concentration and confidence.
Now let us summarise the
benefits that accrue if a person does Pranayama every morning (or evening) for a
period of 20 to 25 minutes
It increases lung
capacity and improves breathing efficiency,
It improves circulation, helps normalize blood pressure and improves
It boosts the immune system and enhances immunity,
It increases energy levels,
It strengthens and tones the nervous system,
It combats anxiety and depression and improves sleep,
It improves digestion and excretory functions,
It provides massage to the internal organs, stimulates the glands and enhances
It normalizes body weight and provides great conditioning for weight loss,
and lastly it improves skin tone and complexion
YOU NOT DEPRIVING YOURSELF OF THE BENEFITS OF YOGA AND PRANAYAMA?