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Pranayama Best Practices

Best Practices for effective Pranayama
Pranayama Best Practices

Pranayama Best Practices

Pranayama is a controlled deep breathing exercise where our brain controls the rate of breathing, so it does not simply mean inhaling and exhaling air, but it is a technique for establishing control by holding the breath after the inhalation and exhalation also.
To focus on the breath, our mind must be free of thoughts, it must be calm, the place must be free from distortion, the environment must be pleasant, and the place where you can take in the fresh air.
In Pranayama, when you take a deep and repetitive breath, your internal body organs are vibrating and therefore it is important to take care of a lot of conditions like your health conditions, the time of pranayama, your mental conditions including stress, your stomach as full or empty, your medications, existing illnesses, surgical conditions, pregnancy, menstruation, etc.
By considering above all points, following are the best practices for effective pranayama.

Best Practices for effective Pranayama

The environment, time, state of health, state of stomach, type of pranayama, purpose of pranayama, etc. are important considerations for practicing effective pranayama and utilizing its maximum benefits.

1. Selection of place/ environment for Pranayama

The place should be clean, pleasant, away from noise or any kind of distortion i.e. peaceful so that your mind can focus on breathing, forgetting all your worries, stress and controlling your thoughts.
Choose a place where there should not be much pollution, it is difficult to get such an environment in the city, so you can go out of the crowded area, in a park or garden, near a river or a lake. If nothing is available in your area, use your balcony or bedroom. You can make your room environment pleasant by lighting a lamp with purified butter or by using a natural room freshener.
If you want to perform pranayama inside the room, you can open the windows to get fresh air and for better ventilation. Do not perform pranayama under the fan or in front of the air conditioner.
Try to keep your mind calm, relax, let go of all the worries, close your eyes for a while and feel the pleasant environment before you start pranayama.

2. Selection of timing for Pranayama

Always prefer the time early in the morning after the end of your usual morning functions such as brushing teeth, bathing, emptying the intestines, etc. An empty stomach is perfect for practicing Pranayama. Plus, this is the time when there is less pollution, noise, distortion, and you can have fresh air.
If it is not convenient, you can take a bath after the Pranayama, but always keep in mind that there should be a gap of about half an hour between the Pranayama and the bath. This is very demanding because during the practice of pranayama your body is filled with energy, increased body temperature due to heat. Therefore, you need to cool down your body and bring it back to a normal level.
Due to your lifestyle and other routine activities, if you cannot practice Pranayama in the morning, you can do it in the evening, but keep in mind that your stomach must be empty. You can perform after four or five hours of food intake.
Pranayama can be performed after your other physical exercise / training or Yogsana.

3. Sitting position for Pranayama

While performing Pranayama, you must feel comfort as it is very important to support your concentration. There shouldn't be any additional stress on any part of your body. You may prefer any of the Asanas such as Padmasana, Sidhasana or Vajrasana. Upper body should be straight and erect after sitting down, align your head, neck and back as you look straight ahead, don't strain your shoulders and abs, be relaxed. Keep your hand on your knees and close your eyes.
By performing Pranayama, you activate your Chakras, you will produce more energy, this energy must be maintained in your body to get the maximum benefit from pranayama, so you must sit on a non-conductive mat. You can use a yoga mat / sheet or a cotton or wool cloth.
Even between the practice of pranayama, always ensure that none of your organs such as mouth, eyes, nose, face, shoulders, legs, etc. does not feel any stress. Try to keep all the organs/ body part in normal condition. Adjust your body posture from time to time to make sure your body is in an erect position, the spine and neck in straight and hand relaxing on your knees to get maximum benefits of Pranayama.

4. How to start Pranayama - warmup

It is always advisable to warm up your body with a simple stretching exercise before sitting down for pranayama. You can start with neck flexion (left-right-up-down-clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation), shoulder stretch, shoulder rotation, waist twist, trunk twist, movement knee, Ardha-Chakrasana, then sit on a non-conductive mat.
Begin Pranayama with prayer or just close your eyes and focus your mind to clear unnecessary thoughts, relax, take a deep breath, and start your first pranayama.

5. How to breath

As usual, we think that we always breathe through the nose, but we observe that some people breathe through the mouth for a while without knowing it. So, try to get into the habit of breathing only through your nose. Our nose is a fantastic filter for sealing off dust and other infectious particles or microorganisms.
In pranayama, always breathe only through the nose and not through the mouth because nasal breathing maintains the temperature evenly in all Nadis.
Except some pranayama, there are four stages of deep breathing
1. Inhalation - Taking air into the lungs (in Sanskrit, this is called "Puraka")
2. Retaining of inhaled air inside the lungs (in Sanskrit it is called "Kumbhak")
3. Exhalation - expel unwanted gas from the lungs (in Sanskrit it is called “Recak”)
4. Hold the breath after exhaling and before starting another cycle.
While doing these four rhythmic breathing stages, we must focus on the breathing, control our thoughts, cool our mind, ignore all other painful and unpleasant experiences of the body and mind. You have to maintain the mental balance and focus of mind.
Do not stress yourself while retaining the breathed air inside or keeping the air out after exhaling.

6. Selection of Pranayama types

The selection of the types of pranayama depends only on the individual health condition. Some Pranayama are used to both prevent and cure disease, while some are dedicated to cure disease. Also, it may depend on the seasons, your stress level, and other metal conditions.
Some Pranayama help to keep the temperature at the normal level while some Pranayama increase or decrease the body temperature. There are around seven pranayama which are practiced to treat different illnesses and around eight pranayama are practiced to keep the body healthy, stress free and eliminate depression by improving the respiratory system, circulation system and boosting intelligence. Some pranayama are used to awaken the chakras and serve as a prerequisite for meditation and samadhi.

7. Duration: how much time practice the pranayama?

If you are a beginner, you can practice pranayama for 10 to 15 minutes and then gradually increase the time to around half an hour or an hour, but the important thing is that you keep the breathing cycle evenly in a number, specific and do not vary. It is always advisable to set the routine time and maintain a specific rhythm. In the beginning you can count the number of breaths, this will help you maintain the breathing cycle and your mind will at least focus on the breath and free itself from several thoughts.
Maintaining comfort is very important to focus your mind as well as your breathing and therefore when you experience fatigue during Pranayama, rest for a while, relax, take 2-3 deep breaths and start over.

8. Precautions: When not to do pranayama?

Do not practice pranayama for at least six months after major surgery such as heart, stomach, kidney, lung surgery, etc.
Pregnant women and women in the period of menstrual cycle discharge should not practice pranayama.
If you are too hungry and cannot concentrate properly, avoid doing pranayama.
People who are sick and have fever should not fully practice Pranayama. But they can do light pranayama. If you have a high fever and complete discomfort, don't perform pranayama.

Pranayama should be practiced early in the morning after completing your usual morning functions or if this is not possible in the morning then it can be performed in the evening, but your stomach should be empty. The place for pranayama should be quiet, free from all kinds of noise and distortion, free from pollution, must be pleasant, ventilated, etc. Sitting position can be preferred based on your comfort, strain less, body posture must be straight aligned with your neck, head, and straight spine, hand must be rest on knees and relax.
If you feel fatigue, tired while performing pranayama, take a 2-3 minute rest, take a deep breath, relax, and start again. If you are ill, post major surgery and are not feeling well, do not perform pranayama.

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