Pranayama and its benefits
We rely on the Element Air for being alive! We all have experienced at least once either asthma, stress or simply being short of breath. When this happens you realise how this fantastic respiratory system does more than allow you to breathe but provides the vital energy which gives the real meaning of being alive. I felt deeply for all of those who have gone through such suffering with the Covid 19 virus which attacks this fundamental part of our life support system.
Prana means Vital energy, the power of enjoyment and the movement of the lungs provided by the air element which purifies the blood.
Who can benefit from it? People recovering from cancer, people suffering from depression, mental health, chronic fatigue, suffering from lack of love, lack of confidence...
What do you gain out of it? Clarity of mind, a less foggy mind, less forgetful, better concentration, more focus, being in the present: Acceptance, detachment, self-confidence, Love
How does it work?
We are constituted of 5 layers: physical, energetical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual and 3 bodies: physical, subtle and causal. We are like an onion; we have to remove these layers to find our real selves and Pranayama is one of the tools in Yoga we use to achieve it. How does it work? By learning to act on the first layer the physical body called Anamaya Kosha. Learning to breathe requires the ability to develop an awareness of your breathing which is normally taken for granted but is at the origin of so many discomforts in life, as your posture is at the origin of so many pains. The postures combined with the breathing techniques teach how to oxygenate the blood and to activate the blood circulation which in turn helps relieve tiredness and fatigue, relaxes the nervous system and increases our ability to concentrate by calming down the mind. The second layer the Energetic body; the science can't prove or make a scan of this subtle body, called Pranamaya, but when you reach this level you are now in a position to take more control of the parasympathetic system. Less tired you will get a clearer mind and feel less stressed and overwhelmed by trivial daily things in life. Thus, when more important situations arise, you will see yourself being able to act or react rationally rather than emotionally. "The letting go is the key thing" to reach the 3rd body. Manomaya is the emotional body and also part of the subtle body which is our mental and emotional body. This is directly affected by our way of living which is often too agitated and attracted by technology, our food and the environment. Practicing control of the breath brings you into the present and stops the current of thoughts and actions. It is the preparation for having back the control of yourself with a more stable and calm mind and gradually with more confidence. It is the path to meditation. The 4th layer called Vijnanamaya is the Wisdom and also part of the subtle body and the 5th layer called Anandamaya is the spiritual layer.
Pranayama should be practiced daily, always at the same time. Anywhere is suitable as long as for outdoor practice it is not too polluted and for indoor practice your space is well ventilated.
Pranayama is a good way to prepare for Meditation.
VATA needs to calm down his restless mind to remove anxiety and fears. Vata needs to learn to focus otherwise he would be lost. Meditation will help with sleeping.
Pranyama Vata is low in energy so the practice of Kapalabhati shouldn't be too strong.
Visualisation would be more effective for Vata. The sitting position is important because vata has to be comfortable to release his tension.
Visualisation of mountains, oceans, lotus flowers, roses, the sun and dawn.
Colour would be a warm gold saffron.
Mantra to energise and calm vata is RAM SHRIM or HRIM It can be repeated during the meditation and during the day
Ganesha the remover of obstacles gives a grounding feeling to vata "OM GAM GANESHAYA NAMAH!"
PITTA would need a cool environment and a search for an Infinite space to go beyond his critical mind. Silence would help to pacify his mind and to develop the art of discrimination.
Concentrating on the light of the heart with forgiveness, compassion, love to decrease pitta's anger.
Pranyama Lunar breathing left nostril and Shitali to cool down.
Visualisation of forests, rain, clouds, lakes in the mountains
Colour deep blue, emerald green, white and silver of the moon.
Mantra to be repeated, singing at any time silently SHRAM SHRIM or OM
KAPHA has a lack of determination, needs encouragement so the group is the best option. It will need more time to see results than for Pitta or Vata. Kapha can fall asleep during the meditation so it would help to do exercise before such as walking. Meditation is good for him for letting go emotional attachment and possessiveness.
Pranayama a sun breathing with a strong Bhastrika to stimulate and then a regenerating alternative anuloma.
Visualisation of the sun to increase his internal fire, the wind in the trees, a clear blue sky.
Colour gold, blue and orange
Mantra Kapha needs to learn the formlesness and infinity to exceed his limit as he has a tendency to stop halfway OM HUM or HAIM.