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Pranayama Exercises & Poses
What is Pranayama?
“The regulation of the breath through certain techniques and exercises”.
"Pranayama is control of Breath".
"Prana" is Breath or vital energy in
the body. On subtle levels prana
represents the pranic energy
responsible for life or life force, and
"ayama" means control. So
Pranayama is "Control of Breath".
Pranayama is the perfect control of the
life-currents through control of breath,
and is the process by which we understand the secret of prana and manipulate
it. You can hardly make any spiritual progress without the practice of
Pranayama. One who has grasped this prana has grasped the very core of
cosmic life and activity. Through various exercises and training in Pranayama
the yogi tries to realize in this little body the whole of cosmic life, and attain

© Copyright 2016, Vedicgrace Foundations

Breath is a physical aspect or external manifestation of prana, the vital force,
and thus Pranayama begins with the regulation of the breath. Breath, like
electricity, is gross prana, while prana itself is subtle. By controlling the breath
you can control the prana – just as you can control the other wheels by
controlling or stopping the fly wheel of a diesel engine, and just as you can
control the hairspring, cog wheels and the main spring of a watch by
controlling the minute hand. Control of breath is achieved through
manipulation of the lungs and the breathing process.
‘Prana’ refers to the universal life force and ‘ayama’ means to regulate or
lengthen. Prana is the vital energy needed by our physical and subtle layers,
without which the body would perish. It is what keeps us alive. Pranayama is
the control of prana through the breath. These techniques rely on breathing
through the nostrils.

Prana flows through thousands of subtle energy channels called ‘nadis’
and energy centres called ‘chakras’. The quantity and quality of prana
© Copyright 2016, Vedicgrace Foundations

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, due to lack of
knowledge and attention to one’s breath, the nadis and chakras in the
average person may be partially or fully blocked leading to jerky and broken
flow. As a result one experiences increased worries, fear, uncertainty,
tensions, conflict and other negative qualities.
Pranayama are breathing exercises which clear the physical and emotional
obstacles in our body to free the breath and so the flow of prana - life energy.
Through a regular and sustained practice of Pranayama you can supercharge
your whole body! The way that we move, think, act and especially breathe
contributes to the flow and vitality of prana - the universal energy that runs
through us and everything around us.

Why is the breath so important?

© Copyright 2016, Vedicgrace Foundations

It’s the first thing and last thing we do in our lives. The one constant
thing we all have. Without breath there is no life!
Daily stressors, tensions and physical habits can create physical and energetic
obstacles in our bodies. Without even noticing it our breathing can become
gradually more shallow or stilted, we develop unconscious breathing patterns
restricting the flow of breath and prana.
When we work on the freeing the breath through Pranayama (breathing
exercises) we are also working on letting the life energy flow through the
body. It has the effect of energizing; relaxing and healing the body, letting
everything fall into place. Literally it is an increase and balance of life energy
in your system.

Pranayama – why it actually works!
Pranayama is a great yoga exercise which can relieve stress and has other health
benefits also.
Ever felt like the weight of the whole world rests on your shoulders? Well, there is a
method to quieten your mind and get rid of that stress – just breathe. According to
ancient Indian scriptures, breathing is one of the best things you can do to help your
body recover, repair and function better. Also
known as Pranayama, it not only good in theory
it actually works. Here is why.

Prana: The breath of life
The ancient Indian system of yoga
identified the power of breath and
strove to maximize its efficiency by
developing special breathing
techniques. The ancient yogis discovered prana as the universal life
force or energy which distinguishes the living from the dead. We get
prana from food, rest, breath and by being in a calm, happy frame of
mind. However, the most important source of prana is breath
© Copyright 2016, Vedicgrace Foundations

– when our breath stops, we die.

It was discovered that the quantity and quality of prana and the way it flows through
the nadis (subtle energy channels) determines one’s state of mind.
Due to lack of attention, the energy channels in the average person may be
partially blocked, making the flow of prana, broken and jerky. This results in increased
worry, fear, uncertainty, conflict, tension and other negative qualities. When the prana
level is high and its flow is continuous, smooth and steady, then the mind is calm, positive
and enthusiastic. (http://www.vedicgrace.com/articles/best-astrologer-inbangalore)
As Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says ‘Breath is the link between the body and mind. If the mind is a
kite the breath is the thread. The longer the thread, the higher the kite can go.’
(Read: Beat insomnia with yoga)

Breathe out stress, breathe in joy
Did you know that we can throw out 90 percent of the toxins from our
body by breathing correctly? We can learn the art of breathing right by
observing new born babies. Have you seen their stomach gently rising
and falling as they breathe in and breathe out?
© Copyright 2016, Vedicgrace Foundations

Breath is our vital source of energy. The key to healthy and happy living
lies in right breathing. When we attend to our breath, it can heal us from
all worries and anxieties.

At a conference in Germany, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explained the connect between breath
and emotions, ‘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 breath you can do that. If you are in theatre, 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, 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
Breathe right:
Most of us breathe from the chest – such shallow breathing sends a signal to the
brain that all is not well – we are stressed. Alternatively, breathing from the
abdomen boosts respiration, ensures a rich supply of oxygen to the brain and
signals that all is well.
© Copyright 2016, Vedicgrace Foundations

Observe your breath and note if it is deep or shallow. (Read: Try these yoga poses
to improve digestion)

Breathing techniques for various ailments
You can practice these breathing techniques at any time of the day whenever your
stomach is empty.

Is your mind buzzing with activity? Can’t stop thinking about what someone said
about you? Find a quiet corner and try the Bee breath (Bhramari Pranayama) to
apply brakes in the buzzing mind. This breathing technique is a boon for those with
Among the breathing techniques, Kapalbhati (Skull Shining breath) is considered
the most important and effective for detoxifying the body and clearing the energy
Low energy levels? Three rounds of Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellow breath) will get
your energy levels soaring!
Can’t concentrate on the task at hand? Try nine rounds of Nadi Shodhan
Pranayama followed by a short 10-minute meditation. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama
calms and centres the mind by bringing into harmony the left and right
hemispheres of the brain which correlate to the logical and emotional sides of our

© Copyright 2016, Vedicgrace Foundations

Benefits of Pranayamas

Enhances the quantity and quality of life force
Clears blocked energy channels
Harmonizes the body, mind and spirit
Boosts the immune system
Rejuvenates the body and mind
Slows down the ageing process

Types of Pranayama
1. Bhastrika Pranayama
2. Kapalbhati Pranayama
3. Bahya Pranayama
4. Anulom Vilom Pranayama
5. Bhramari Pranayama
6. Udgeeth Pranayama
7. Pranav Pranayama
© Copyright 2016, Vedicgrace Foundations

Bhastrika Pranayama
Bhastrika is an important breath exercise in yoga and Pranayama. It is
sometimes treated as a kriya or ‘cleansing action’ along with
kapālabhāti to clear the airways in preparation for other Pranayama
techniques. Bhastrika involves a rapid and forceful inhalation and
exhalation powered by the
movement of the
diaphragm. The movement
of air is accompanied by an
audible sound. One inhale
and exhale equals one
round of bhastrika and it
may be repeated for many
consecutive rounds.
Astrologer Vinayak Bhatt explains that the similar “process or kriya of
kapālabhāti is a milder form of Bhastrikā Prāṇāyāma. When you
practice this Pranayama a hissing sound is produced. The practitioner
should start with rapid expulsions of breath following one another in
rapid succession. When the required number of expulsions, say ten
for a round, is finished, the final expulsion is followed by a deepest
possible inhalation. The breath is suspended as long as it could be
done with comfort. Then deepest possible exhalation is done very
slowly. The end of this deep exhalation completes one round of
Sanskrit word Bhastrika means bellows. This breathing exercise
resembles the blowing of bellows. Bhastrika is the excellent breathing
exercise which we can practice slowly or fast as per our convenience.

© Copyright 2016, Vedicgrace Foundations

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