Beyond a Physical Practice

Sep 13th, 2017

The most important benefit of yoga is physical and mental therapy. According to medical scientists, yoga therapy is successful because of the balance created in the nervous and endocrine system. Through the practice of yoga, we become aware of the interconnectedness between our emotional, mental and physical levels.
This month, we continue to explore pranayama and the therapeutic benefits.

A. Bhastrika Pranayama (Padahirasana – Breath Balancing Pose)

1. Sit upright and comfortably in Vajrasana or Sukhasana or on a chair.
2. Place the right hand underneath the left armpit and the left hand underneath the right armpit with thumbs pointing upwards.
3. Close the eyes and relax the whole body. Make sure the back, head and trunk are in one straight line.
4. Begin to inhale actively through the nostril while expanding abdomen.
5. Exhale forcefully through the nostrils while pulling the navel into the spine.
6. Both inhalations and exhalations are equally quick and forceful and performed one breath per second.

Do this 3 to 4 times with 20 breaths each time. Take a short break between sets.

Benefits: This breathing helps open up both nostrils and clears phlegm, removes toxins and wind from the body. It helps to efficiently release carbon dioxide from the lungs and increase oxygen intake into the bloodstream. It is wonderful for massaging the internal organs and increasing the body’s metabolism rate. It also stimulates the nervous system and induces a tranquil state of mind.

B. Yogic Breathing

1. Sit upright and comfortably in either Sukhasana or on a chair.
2. Place the right palm on the chest centre and the left palm on the navel centre.
3. Close the eyes and begin to relax the whole body. Make sure the back, head and trunk are in one straight line.
4. Inhale slowly, feel the abdomen expanding and your navel pressing gently against the left hand. Next, feel the chest expanding upward and outward against the right hand while the collarbone rises slightly. The rest of the body should be relaxed.
5. When the inhalation is complete, begin to exhale slowly and feel the collarbone and chest relaxing and contracting downwards. While emptying the lungs, pull the navel into the spine, feeling the navel moving away from the left hand. Exhale completely as much as possible.
6. The entire inhalation and exhalation should be smooth and flowing without any force or any jerks. This is one round of yogic breathing.

Do 10 rounds initially and slowly increase to 20 rounds with practice.

Benefits: Yogic Breathing optimises the full capacity of the lungs and increases oxygen intake into the brain. It has a very calming effect on the mind and is great for people suffering from asthma. It also helps to renew the cells and teaches one how to breathe deeply and slowly.

Yoga is for all ages and body types. If you are considering the use of pranayama for a specific health problem, consult your physician before starting up the practice.

Asana Journal

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