Pranayama is an aspect of Yoga, that deals with breathing. Pranayama is a method of controlling prana or life force through the regulation of breathing. It is the breathing process or the control of the motion of inhalation, exhalation and the retention of vital energy.
The following are a few pranayama exercises taken from Swami Ramdev's teachings.
1. Bhastrika Pranayam
Procedure : Take deep breaths and then completely breathe out. Duration : 2 mins atleast. 5 mins max. Benefits : heart, lungs, brain, depression, migraine, paralysis, neural system, aabha.
Sit in a comfortable Asana. Breathe in through both the nostrils forcefully, till the lungs are full and diaphragm is stretched. Then breathe out forcefully also, but see that the abdominal cavity does not blow up due to the air breathed in. Depending upon the capacity and health of an individual, this Pranayama can be done in three variable speeds viz. slow speed, moderate speed and at high speed. Individuals with weak lungs and heart should do this at a slow speed while performing Rechak and Puraka A healthy individual and one used to doing it, should do it initially at a slow speed and then gradually increase the speed to moderate and then high. This Pranayama should be done for 5 to 10 minutes.
Shiva Sankalpa (Vow) at the time of performing Bhastrika:
While inhaling in the process of doing Bhastrika make a vow and focus in your mind as if all the divine powers, purity, peace and joy, all that is good in the universe around you is entering inside your body and that you are getting filled with the divine powers. Pranayama done with this kind of vow in mind imparts a special benefit to the individual.
Those suffering from high blood pressure or from any heart disease should not do this Pranayama.
While breathing in the abdominal area should not blow up. You have to fill the air in the chest area, i.e. up to diaphragm, so that the part of the chest with it's ribs swells.
In summer season, reduce the number of repititions of this Pranayama.
One must do this Pranayama for the duration of three to five minutes every day.
In case both the nostrils do not open on account of ailments like severe cough or sinus etc., for such persons they should first close the right nostril and do respiration (exhalation as well as inhalation) through the left nostril. Then the left nostril should be closed and respiration should be done by the right nostril. This method of alternate breathing should be continued at the desired speed viz. slow, moderate or fast, till both the nostrils open simultaneously. Then at the end Pranayama should be completed by doing Recak and Pruaka through both Ida and Pingala.
While doing this Pranayama keep both the eyes closed and mentally chant the mantra “OM” throughout the exercise of Pranayama.
Diseases like cold, cough, allergy, asthma, respiratory diseases of all kinds, are cured. Lungs become strong and due to the heart and head getting adequate quantity of pure and fresh air, health is improved.
Diseases of the throat like thyroid, tonsils and other ailments of throat are cured.
This Pranayama brings about a proper balance of the three Doshas i.e. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, and maintains their balance. Blood is purified and the body gets rid of foreign objects and toxins.
Stabilizes Prana and calms mind, and helps the upward journey
Stabilizes Prana and calms mind and helps the upward journey of Prana from Muladhara Chakra (Base Chakra) to Sahsrar Chakra(Cerebral Gland) and helpful in the Kundalini Jagran.
2. Kapal Bhati Pranayam
Procedure : Push air forcefully out. Stomach will itself go in. Duration : Start with 30 times or 1 min. increase upto 5 mins min. upto 10 mins max. Benefits : aabha, tej, obesity, constipation, gastric, acidity, Croesus(liver), hepatitis B, uterus, diabetes, stomach problems, cholesterol, allergic problems, asthma, snoring, concentration, and even cancer and AIDS. Tips : heart and high BP patients, and weak people do it slowly.
Swamiji says "dharti ki sanjivini hai kapal-bhati pranayam" and that it "cures all diseases of world".
‘Kapal’ means forehead and ‘Bhati’ means light. Hence, Kapal-Bhati refers to that exercise which makes the forehead luminous and lustrous. Kapal-Bhati Pranayama makes its Sadhak’s head luminous. This Pranayama is a little different from Bhastrika Pranayama. In Bhastrika Pranayama, Puraka and Recak are done with the same amount of force, where as in Kapal-Bhati more attention is to be given to the act of forceful Recak. In Kapal-Bhati, the Puraka is to be done with normal, usual force but the Recak has to be done with as much of force as is at your command. In doing so, the abdominal area, also makes inward and outward movements and considerable force is applied to the Manipura,Svadhisthana and Muladhara Chakra. This Pranayama should easily be done for five minutes. In short, breathe in normally and breathe out forcefully, so as to influence the organs of the abdominal area. Persons suffering from acute and chronic diseases must practice if for 15 minutes or more as per the capability.
Shiva Sankalpa (Vow) at the time of performing Kapal-Bhati:
While doing this Pranayama think that while exhaling you are throwing all the diseases out of your body. Individuals with mental aberrations like anger, greed, self-ego attachment etc. should develop a feeling of throwing out all the negative and injurious elements along with the air exhaled. In this way the feeling of getting rid of diseases while exhaling imparts a special benefit to the individual.
Do this Pranayama at the start for a period of three minutes and gradually increase it to five minutes. Initially, if you feel tired in between, take rest for a while and resume. After practice of about two months, you will be able to perform this Pranayama for five minutes at a stretch without any fatigue. This is the total duration for which it should be done. In the beginning, you may feel a little pain in the back or abdomen. But this will disappear after some practice. So do not give up. People whose glands secrete lots of bile inside the body are termed as Pitta Prakriti. They should not do this Pranayama for more than 2 minutes during summer season.
Face become Lustrous and attractive.
Diseases related to Kapha like asthma, respiratory troubles, allergies, sinus, etc. are cured.
Diseases of heart, lungs and brain get cured.
Obesity, diabetes, flatulence, constipation, acidity and diseases pertaining to kidneys and prostate glands etc. are cured.
If done regularly for five minutes daily, it relieves constipation, Blood sugar becomes normal and weight in the abdominal region reduces considerably. Blockages in the arteries are also cleared.
Peace and stability of mind are achieved. No negative thoughts occur. Troubles like depression are cured.
Chakras are purified and chakras from Muladhar-Chakra to Sahsrar Chakra are filled with pious Cosmic Energy.
Organs in the abdominal cavity viz. stomach, pancreas, liver, spleen, intestine, prostrate and kidney function more efficiently and develop immunity towards diseases. This is the best exercise; benefits accrued by this cannot be obtained by several other asanas. It strengthens the intestines and improves digestion.
3. Bahya Pranayam
Procedure : Breathe air out, touch chin to chest, squeeze stomach completely and hold for a while. then release chin, breathe in slowly. Duration : 3 times to 5 times normally. max upto 11 times. and extremely max upto 21 times (in winters). Benefits : stomach(udar), hernia, urinal, uterus Tips : not for heart and high BP patients
4. Anulom Vilom Pranayam
Procedure : Hold your right nasal with thumb, breathe in from left. Now open right nasal and close left nasal with middle and ring finger and breathe out from right nasal. Now breathe in from right nasal. Now close right nasal and open left and breathe out and in from left nasal. and so on. Duration : atleast 10 mins. Benefits : heart, high BP, heart blockage, vat-cuf-pit, arthritis, cartilage, bent ligaments, sinual fluid reduced, parkinson, paralysis, neural related, depression, migraine pain, asthma, sinus, allergy Tips : breathe into lungs not to stomach. no organ in stomach absorb oxygen. Do not hurry. Do it slowly. Rest whenever needed (in any pranayam).
Prana breathed in through left nostril represents energy of the moon, which symbolizes peace, and has a cooling effect. Hence for purification of Nadis, beginning of this Pranayama has to be made by the left nostril. Close the right side nostril with the right hand thumb. Inhale slowly through the left nostril till the lungs are filled. Then close the left nostril with the second and third fingers. Open the right nostril and exhale through it. Repeat this exercise slowly in the beginning, and with practice, increase the speed. When you are able to practice this exercise for a long time, inhale with as much force as is possible for you, then exhale also forcefully. This practice of inhalation and exhalation alternatively through the right and left nostril, as indicated above with force, should be done for 3 minutes. If you feel tired, rest for sometimes and resume. Regular practice will enable you to do this Pranayama for 10 minutes. After some practice being established, this Pranayama should be done for 5 to 10 minutes daily, depending upon one’s capacity. However, in summer season it should be done for duration starting from 3 minutes and up to a maximum of 5 minutes. If you practice this Pranayama for five minutes regularly on a daily basis, the coiled energy called Kundalini Shakti lying in the Muladhar Chakra begins to awaken.This is known as Kundalini Jagran.. While doing this Pranayama, mentally repeat the mantra “OM” so the mind becomes fit for meditation.
Method to close the nostrils:
To be done by closing the nostrils one after another, close the right nostril by the right hand thumb, and likewise close the left nostril by the 2nd and 3rd fingers (Madhyama and Anamika) fingers keep the palm of the hand in front just above the Nose.
Shiva Sankalp(Vow) at the time of performing Anulom-Viloma Pranayama:
While performing this Pranayama there develops a feeling in mind that as a result of friction and churning of breath in Ida and Pingala Nadis, there is awakening in Susumna Nadi. A divine light is rising upwards from the eight Chakra to the Sahsrar Chakra.
There is a feeling that the whole body is being enlightened by a divine light.Imagine a divine light on the outside and the inside of the body and try to visualize ‘Om Kham Brahm’. Imagine that the supreme power is showering divine energy and divine knowledge, that the supreme power is filling you with divine energy. Try to get the initiation of the divine energy by yourself. A Guru(teacher) just inspires you for the divine energy and links the student to divine feelings. Actually the divine energy is showered by the supreme power himself. Anulom-Viloma Pranayama done with these kinds of divine feelings gives better results and benefits to the individual in all the spheres viz. physically, mentally and spiritually. A divine light will appear from the Muladhara - Chakra on it's own and there will be Kundalini Jagran, you will feel the rise within yourself and you will be blessed with the initiation of the divine energy in yourself.
Regular practice of this Pranayama has the capacity of cleansing all your innumerable Nadis, which makes the body healthy lustrous and strong.
All kinds of diseases occurring due to the disturbance of ‘Vata Dosha’ like rheumatism, gout, diseases pertaining to urinary and reproductive organs are cured. Besides, regular practice of this Pranayama also cures diseases like cold, cataract, sinus, etc. which have reached a chronic stage. The three Doshas of Vata, Pitta, Kapha regularise themselves and assume proper proportions.
Blockages in the arteries of the heart are removed and the arteries become clean, making the circulation unimpeded. If this Pranayama is practiced for 3 or 4 months regularly, 30 to 40% of blockages in the arteries are dissolved and removed, preventing the phenomenon of heart attack.
Pathogenic cholesterol, triglycerides, H.D.L. and L.D.L. also get controlled, making the arterial channels clear for effective and unimpeded flow of blood in the heart.
Negative thinking is replaced by positive approach to life. It increases enthusiasm and spirit, the Sadhak becomes fearless and feels blissful.
In short, this Pranayama has the effect of cleansing the body, and the mind and cures almost all the diseases from which the Sadhaka has been suffering. If this Pranayama is practiced for 250 to 500 times a day, Kundalini Shakti turns its face upward and begin to rise above through the susumna Nadi. It means that the phenomenon known as Kundalini Jagran begins.
5. Bhramri Pranayam
Procedure : Close ears with thumb, index finger on forehead, and rest three on base of nose touching eyes. Breathe in. And now breathe out through nose while humming like a bee. Duration : 10 mins Benefits : tension, hypertension, high BP, heart, heart blockage, paralysis, migraine pain, confidence, concentration.
Breathe in till your lungs are full of air. Close your ears with both the thumbs and eyes with the middle fingers of your hands on respective sides with little pressure. Press forehead with both the index fingers lightly. Close both the eyes. Then press eyes and nose bridge from the sides with the remaining fingers. Concentrate your mind on Ajna Chakra (between eye-brows) . Close your mouth. Begin slowly exhaling, making humming sound of a bee, while reciting “OM” mentally. Repeat the exercise 11 to 21 times according to your capacity.
Shiva Sankalpa (Vow) at the time of performing Bhramari Pranayama:
This Pranayama should be done with the thought that your individual consciousness merges with the divine cosmic consciousness. Your mind should be full of the thought that divine bliss is descending on you, that deep divine wisdom fills your entire being. Exercising this Pranayama with such thought will endow you with divine light and you will be able to meditate effortlessly.
With the practice of this Pranayama the mind becomes steady. It is beneficial in conditions like mental tension, agitation, high blood pressure, heart disease etc. It is also useful for meditation.
6. Udgeeth Pranayam
Procedure : Breathe in deeply, and chant 'Om'kar. OOOOOOm ( long O and small m ) Duration : 10 mins or more Benefits : meditation
"Omkar Japa" (Muttering the mantra “OM”)
After performance of the six Pranayamas mentioned here above concentrate your mind on the respiration and meditate on the sacred mantra “OM”. God has fashioned the shape of our brows like OM. This body and the universal cosmic body are filled with this mantra. It is not the figure or expression of any individual thing, but it is divine energy, which regulates the entire functioning of the universe. With every act of breathing in and breathing out, mentally go on repeating the mantra “OM”. The speed of respiration should be so slow and subtle that you yourself also may not be aware of its sound, even if a piece of cotton is placed in front of the nostril it should not move by the effect of the air exhaled out. Slowly practice and make the duration of one inhalation and exhalation to one minute. Likewise, try to visualize the breath inside the body. Initially the breath can be felt only in the nostrils but gradually it will be felt deep inside. In this way, visualizing the breath and continuous chanting of ‘OM’ will lead to Dhyana automatically. Your mind will develop a feeling of concentration and your body will be filled with the feeling of OM. The Gayatri Mantra from the Vedas can also be chanted meaningfully along with Pranayama. This way the Sadhaka can attain the joyful stage of Samadhi by going through the various visualizations of god and supreme powers. Also if this is practiced at bedtime, one will get peaceful sleep without any perverted dreams etc.
These Pranayams are extracted from teachings of Swami Ramdev ji. The information contained in this document is not enough for you to get started with Pranayama. We recommend you to buy books and CDs from divyayoga.com for complete guidance. You can also watch Swami Ramdev ji's programs broadcasted on TV Channels. These cannot replace the experiance of attending the Yog Shivirs, where you will feel a different energy.
Some rules for Pranayam
Select a clean and peaceful place for doing Pranayama. If possible, choose a place near a clean pond or river.
As there is a lot of pollution in the cities, some kind of incense can be lit like Guggulu and purified butter, to create a clean environment at that place, igniting a lamp with purified butter only, can also serve the purpose.
Sit either in any of the Asanas, viz. Padmasana, Sidhasana or Vajrasana, which ever you find convenient. The sheet or cloth (cotton or wool etc.) on which you sit must be a non-conductor of electricity.
Breathe only through the nose, because by doing so the air which you take in, is filtered. During daytime when you are not sitting for the performance of Pranayama make it a habit to do respire only through nose and not through mouth. Nasal respiration keeps the temperature of the Nadis (Vessels) –'Ida',Pingala and 'susmana' even. It also prevents foreign and harmful objects from getting into lungs.
Like ‘Yog’, Pranayama should also be performed four or five hours after taking food. In the morning Pranayama should be done after finishing daily routine acts like cleansing mouth, emptying of bowels etc., it should also be done before Yogasana. In the beginning Pranayama should be done for five or ten minutes gradually the time may be increased up to about 1/2 or 1 hour. Maintain a specific number of repetitions and do not variate. Maintain a specific rhythm. If it is not possible to clean the bowels by morning, at night take some mild laxative like terminalia chebula (Indian Hardaya) or any other mild laxative (a non habit forming medicinal herb having a laxative effect). Kapala-bhati Pranayama, if done regularly for a few days will help in curing constipation.
Keep your mind calm and composed. However, Pranayama can also calm down the disturbed mind and keep one happy.
Methods of Pranayama may be varied according to the seasons and your own physical make up and mental attitude. Keep this in mind and modulate the method accordingly. Some Pranayama increase the body temperature, whereas, some bring it down. Some Pranayama maintain the temperature at the normal level.
If you feel fatigued in the course of doing Pranayama , rest for sometime and then begin deep breathing, which will remove the fatigue.
Pregnant women, hungry persons, persons suffering from fever and those who are lustful having no control on their passions should not do Pranayama. If you are sick, keep in mind the instructions to be followed by sick persons while during Pranayama.
For prolonged exercises of Pranayama, observance of celibacy is necessary. Besides, food should be simple not containing irritating spices. It should be ‘Sattvika’ – (Plain and simple, non-spicy food). Use of cow’s milk, ghee (clarified butter), fruits and green vegetables can be said to be ideal food. Moderation also is a good rule to observe.
Do not strain yourself while doing ‘Kumbhak’ i.e. retaining the breathed air inside or keeping the air out after exhaling (Breathing in is called ‘puraka’, retaining the breathed air in is called ‘Kumbhak’ and exhaling the air is called ‘Rechak').
Pranayama does not mean just breathing in, keeping the breathed air in and exhaling it. It also means establishing control on the entire breathing process, and maintaining mental equilibrium, and concentration of mind.
It is beneficial to chant the mantra (a group of words that carry vibrations and energy) Om (the first cosmic soundless sound), aloud and repeat the same several times before doing Pranayama. Even recital of sacred songs in the praise of almighty God or recital of some sacred hymns may be beneficial. This will calm your mind and make you fit for Pranayama, because a peaceful mind is very essential while doing Pranayama. Mental or loud recitation of Gayatri Mantra (considered as one of the greatest mantra, used in meditation and also for chanting) or any other sacred hymn brings spiritual benefits to the Sadhaka.
See that while doing Pranayama, none of your organs such as mouth, eyes, nose, etc. feels any strain and it should be done gradually without any undue stress or strain. All the organs of the body should be kept in normal condition. While doing Pranayama sit in an erect posture. Keep your spine and neck straight. This is essential for reaping the full benefit of Pranayama .
If possible Pranayama should be done after your usual morning functions like cleansing of mouth, evacuation of bowels, bathing etc. However, if it becomes necessary for you to take bath after Pranayama , keep an interval of about 15 to 20 minutes between Pranayama and bathing. For acquiring proficiency in Pranayama do not depend on books or what is done and preached by others. Seek the guidance of an expert and do Pranayama under his direct supervision.
Different treatise advocating or dealing with the subject of Pranayama describe several methods and each of them has its own importance. However, it is not possible for most people to do all these exercises daily. Hence, with the blessings of our teachers and in view of our experience, we have evolved seven methods of Pranayama , which incorporate into themselves, almost all the peculiarities of Pranayama rendering them scientific and useful from a spiritual point of view. All these seven types of Pranayama can be done, as a routine and in a time bound programme of about 20 minutes. The person who does these exercises daily and regularly can attain following benefits which are briefly described as under:
All the three Doshas (Humors) - Vata , pitta and Kapha get adjusted in proper proportion and abnormalities in them are removed.
Digestive system improves and diseases pertaining to digestive organs are cured.
Diseases pertaining to lungs, heart and brain are also cured.
Obesity, Diabetes, Cholesterol, Constipation, Flatulence, Acidity, Respiratory troubles, Allergy, Migraine, High blood pressure, diseases pertaining to kidneys, sexual disorders of males and females etc. are also cured.
Resistance against diseases is stepped up. Immunity develops.
Hereditary diseases like diabetes and heart disease are can be avoided.
Falling of hair or its premature graying, appearance of wrinkles on face or other parts of the body at young age, diminution of eye sight, forgetfulness, etc. are relieved and process of aging is retarded.
Face becomes bright, luminous and calm.
Energy Chakra are cleansed and enables the practitioner to awaken the Kundalini.
Mind becomes stable and tranquil. A sense of contentment and enthusiasm or zeal develops. Conditions like depression are relieved.
Performance of yogic exercises like meditation will be easy.
All the diseases of the physical and etheric bodies will be cured. Freedom from negative and harmful mental conditions like anger, lasciviousness, greed for money, arrogance etc. will be achieved.
All the physical and mental disorders and abnormalities are cured and toxins eradicated from the body.
Freedom from negative thinking is achieved and the mind develops the habit of positive and constructive thinking.