Preparations to remove tension before Pranayama practice:
Very important to learn the following from the teacher to establish correct technique.
1) Lie on your back, place one hand on your upper abdomen (above navel and just under the rib cage) and the other hand on the lower abdomen ( just below the navel) and with each inhale see if you can focus with full attention raising the lower abdomen first followed by the upper. Repeat 20 rounds. Then roll over to stomach with your head placed on stacked forearms so the upper chest is raised and take another 20 deep breaths here and focus again on the inhale feeling it reach into the back of your body.
2) Uddiyana Bandha Kriya – Place your hands on bent knees, relax the shoulders, make sure you are soft in the abdomen first, then exhale fully drawing the navel back towards the spine to help fully empty, then release the belly to neutral momentarily, then draw/lift from the diaphragm under the rib cage and try and feel the pressure at the pit of the throat, hold for as long as you can, then most importantly release the belly first before inhaling.
3) Agni Sara – Again make sure you begin with a relaxed upper and lower abdomen, as you start an exhale out the nostrils, draw below the navel back towards the spine emptying the breath, pump and press forward the abdomen with a focus at the naval leading the way, hold out for a moment to expand, then draw navel back again towards the spine (not Uddiyana) then throw out again, do as many as you can before you have to stop and release to inhale.
4) Simha Mudra – The Lion, sit back on your heels, if you can cross the right leg over left and sit back, throw out the exhale with tongue reaching long towards chin , the eyes look up and the fingers lengthen as would the claws of a lion.Keep body still,chin slightly to throat.
5) Jiva Bandha – Tongue lock, press the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth just behind the front teeth, hold for 10 seconds then make the click sound.
6) Bramha Mudra – Look right, back to the left, then back to centre, look up, look down. One round should take 1 minute.
7) Kapalabhati – Consecutive pumps from below the navel throwing out the breath, dont worry about the inhale as it happens automatically as a result of the negative pressure. Start doing 5 pumps working up to 10, increasing by 5 pumps per week. Don’t go too fast or hard and make sure to release after each pump.
Do we pay any serious attention towards our breathing? As we do not remain aware of this process of breathing so we develop a habit of shallow breathing which is the cause of all our physical, as well as, mental disturbances. Therefore, we are unable to concentrate our mind in performing our day-to-day activities perfectly. In order to enjoy a good health and to be perfect in our day-to-day activities there is a need to develop an awareness of our breathing. In Yoga, human life span is considered in terms of breathing – 21600 respiration in one day @ 15 respiration per minute (4 seconds for one respiration).
Faster the respiration, shorter the life span. Slower the respiration, longer the life span.
Faster/Shallow breathing agitates the mind. Rhythmic breathing keeps the mind calm and composed. Ancient yogis have realized this significance of breathing and have developed a technique known as Pranayama.
Yoga is an art in establishing ‘harmony between individual existence with cosmic existence’ and Pranayama is an application of this art through which one develops an awareness of pranic activities incessantly going on within and without.
With the practice of Pranayama, we overcome all kinds of agitations of our mind and develop a serene state of mind which not only helps us to remain healthy, but also helps us in furthering our efforts towards higher practices of yoga, like Dharana (concentration)- fixing the mind at one point (place/object), Dhyana (contemplation)- uninterrupted flow of consciousness at one point and Samadhi ( Total integration of self (i.e meditator, meditation & object of meditation).
This trio called samyama that leads to harmony between individual existence with cosmic existence and hence the significance of Pranayama.
Patanjali, the author of Yoga Sutra, has given emphasis on silencing the activities of Citta by way of prolonging and silencing the process of breathing activities to stand stiff and thus stands for expansion of breath.
According to Hathayoga-
Prana is a primal cosmic energy, which pervades everywhere in and out. Since breathing is the manifestation of this energy and is responsible for all movements, as well as, for all sensations of an individual. By controlling the movement of breathing one can develop harmony between physiological functions with psychological functions via influencing /improving the functions of lungs & heart and this, in turn, not only helps in maintaining our health but also prepares for undertaking the higher practices of yoga. Thus, expansion of individualized pranic energy into cosmic energy is Pranayama.
At Yoga Benefits studio in Miami, we place a strong emphasis on the breath. Classes are designed so that you become aware of the quality of the inhale and exhale, while stimulating the muscles involved with respiratory. Preparing the body/mind for Pranayama will allow the practice itself to gain maximum benefit. ( Kaivalyadhama Scientific Yoga Institute )