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Breathing exercises are known as pranayama in terms of yoga. Pranayama is the control over the inhalation and exhalation processes of breathing. In Sanskrit, prana refers to breath and Yama refers to control or discipline. The breathing exercises are used for relaxation, concentration, and meditation. According to Maharshi patanjali (who is regarded as the originator of yoga in India), has divided pranayama into three processes, which are puraka (inhalation), rechaka (exhalation), and kumbhaka (retention of air). All the three stages of pranayama aim on extending the time for each of these three stages of breathing.
There are basic types of pranayamas
1. Anulom vilom pranayama: Anulom vilom, is one of the most common pranayama method. At the beginning, you will have to sit in the padmasana posture. In this method, inhalation is done through one nostril while exhalation is done by another. The thumb is used to close one nostril while ring finger is used to close. Common colds, coughs, and tonsilitis can be relieved through this breathing exercise. It is helpful in opening blockages in the arteries, which is very helpful in the removal of toxins from the body.
2. Kapalbhati pranayama: Kapal in Sanskrit means forehead and Bhati stands for shining. Thus, Kaplbhati refers to shining face with inner radiance. It is a highly energizing abdomen exercise. In this pranayama, fast exhalation and normal inhalation are performed simultaneously. We should sit in padmasana during this pranayama. In this breathing process, slow and deep inhalation of air, with the help of both nostrils, is done while extending the mid-region. Exhalation is done while pulling the abdomen in. Repeat this process continuously. This type of pranayama is useful in purifying blood, preparing the mind for meditation, and is useful for the entire respiratory system.
3. Sheetkari pranayama: In Sheetkari pranayama, the word "sheetkari shee", stands for the sound like “sheee” which is produced while performing this pranayama and "kari", means produces. Thus, sheetkari pranayama is the breathing exercise in which “shee” sound is produced. Sit in cross-legged position and clinch your upper and lower teeth. Widen your lips and inhale slowly. Make the sound ‘sheee’. Hold the breath for sometime and exhale through the nose slowly. Perform this step 10 to 15 times. It is helpful in resolving problem related to teeth like Pyorrhea. It helps in removing excessive heat from the body.
4. Ujjayi pranayama: This pranayama is the foundation of proper breathing. It smoothes the flow of breath (Prana) and lengthens the span of life. Sit in cross-legged position. Inhale and exhale smoothly. Tight the neck muscles and make a sound while inhaling. The mouth should be closed. When air is filled into the lungs, hold the breath, as long as possible. Close right nostril and exhale from the left nostril. Repeat 10-15 rounds. It harmonizes the respiratory system; snoring problem is resolved, and is useful for the thyroid.
Sheetli pranayama: In Hindi, "sheetal", means calmness. This pranayama is useful in mitigatinginternal heat and maintaining mental, emotional calmness. Start by sitting in a cross-legged position. Open your mouth and fold the tongue slowly, while stretching out. Inhale gently with a hissing sound to feel coolness from the intake of air. Take the tongue inside and hold your breath as long as possible with closed eyes. Repeat this process. It purifies blood, reduces anger, anxiety, BP, and stress.
Mukul Nego is the Senior Editor at sarvyoga - sarvyoga.com