Pranayama is one of the usual suggestions that I give to patients, for a variety of health conditions. But it is often seen that the people do not get time to go to a Yoga teacher and learn the technique (though it is highly recommended). That gives way for a simplified version of Pranayama. But please remember, it is only a second choice to the Pranayama learnt from a Yoga master.
Why is there a need to simplify Pranayama –
The regular Pranayama mentioned in Yogas is for totally healthy people.
It has yoga prerequisites namely –Yama, Niyama and Asana. It means that, the regular Pranayama would require one to follow dietary & mind restrictions and to have proper training in the Asanas. As Swamy Vivekananda used to say, a fit body is prerequisite of a fit mind.
Inhaling and exhaling through a single nostril, alternatively is quite confusing for the beginners.
If strained excessively while doing Pranayama, it may cause giddiness and difficulty in breathing.
How to do Pranayama?
Pranayama Time – Morning, on empty stomach or 15 minutes after tea / coffee. Preferably after bath. Pranayama is a technique to fill the mind & body with fresh air and energy. So, morning is the right time for it. After bath, we feel fresh. So it adds to the benefits of Pranayama. It will be easier for the mind to get cleansed with the fresh Prana (breath).
Pranayama Place: The place should be spacious, with sufficient air and light. Better to keep the windows open. If it is done in a closed room, it often causes giddiness. So fresh air is very necessary. The place should be noise free.
Pranayama Posture – Sit on a mat on the floor, with your legs crossed. Spine (back) should be erect & straight. Head should be straight. Face should look forward. For those with knee problems, and who can’t sit on the floor, a chair can be used.
Eyes – Eyelids closed with eyes pointing towards the tip of the nose. You need to close the eyelids with eyes pointing to nose tip. This way, when you close the eyes, your eyes will automatically concentrate on center point of two eye brows.
Pranayama Mindset – Very relaxed. Don’t hurry . No extra thoughts. If possible, remember your favorite Deity. If you cannot relax your mind, or if you are in a hurry, it is better to skip the Pranayama session for that day, rather than doing it halfheartedly.
Simple Pranayama Technique
Sit quietly for one minute. Breathe deeply, breathe easily. During this one minute, think that you are going to receive energy to the body and mind to become healthier, to become robust & strong. Think that you are going to throw out all the impurities of mind and the body through exhaling breath and think that you are going to have fresh and pure energy by inhaling the fresh Prana – the breath fully filled with life, strength, positivism and energy.
Once the eyes are closed and are pointing to nose, back erect, mind relaxed, start the Pranayama. It has three phases.
Slow Inhale – Take a deep breath (as deep as possible), very slowly and steadily, without hurrying. The mind should think that you are taking the energy of God into your body.
Hold – Hold the breath for as long as you stay comfortable. During this time, think that the Prana (energetic breath) that you have taken in is cleansing the whole body from tip of the brain to tip of leg. Imagine as though the air is moving all over the body and cleansing all the organs and mind.
Slower Exhale – Exhale slowly. Exhaling period should be longer than inhaling period. While exhaling, think that all the impurities of your body and mind that were cleansed are now let out of the body.
Repeat the same steps from 1 to 3 for three to ten times, based on your convenience.
After Pranayama, you need to sit in the same place, for at least five minutes. During which time, prayer can be done.
Duration for Pranayama
What should be the duration of this simplified Pranayama?
Not more than two minutes.
Is there a rule that it should be done daily?
It is better to do it daily. It is okay, if it is missed for a few days, or when the mind is too occupied, or when you are too busy.
Are there any side effects? Who should not do this?
If one feels giddiness or breathing difficulty or sweating or temporary feeling of darkness then it has to be discontinued. Rush to a place with plenty of air, lie down and breathe easy. Do not try to do it ever again.
It is not suitable for pregnant woman or children below 12 years of age.
It is not suitable for people with respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic cough.
It is not suitable for people with severe illnesses such as heart conditions, cancer etc.
It is highly recommended to learn Pranayama from a qualified Yoga teacher than to follow this method.
What are the benefits of Pranayama?
Apart from being the best among the stress relieving techniques, Pranayama has numerous health benefits. Click read more about benefits of Pranayama along with special details.