Breath and Prana
Breathing is a vital process which starts at the time of birth and stops
at the death. The important Oxygen is provided to all the parts, organs
and cells of the body. The maximum time a person can survive without
oxygen is about 4 minutes. All the metabolic processes require oxygen.
Oxygen is life, a vital force. This vital energy is called Prana.
What is Pranayama?
The process of controlling the Prana is called Pranayama. So pranayama is
the science related to vital force supplying energy and controlling the
body mind complex.
Breathing is the process of taking in this vital energy and removing the
waste products out of our body and mind. Generally breathing includes
inhalation and exhalation but pranayama includes retention of breath
(known as ?Kumbhaka? in Sanskrit) as well. This is a very important
process. The air can be retained in the lungs or out of the lungs. The
ancient texts say that retention of air, increases the level of prana
(energy) in the body, also it regulates the flow of pranic energy through
out the body. So pranayama helps remove all the ailments and also can
stop the aging process of the body. Mind and breath
The mind, consisting of thoughts and emotions is closely related to the
breath. When the mind is calm and relaxed, the breathing is smooth and
slow. If you are stressed breathing is fast & shallow but mostly through
chest. When one gets angry, the breathing becomes fast and forceful, in
depressed states sighing, when in pain gasping, in anxiety shallow and
rapid. In this way, the mental and emotional states affect breathing.
Rhythmic Breathing is Pranayama
All the processes and organs like heart, brain, digestive organs,
endocrine glands in the body have rhythms. Also the breathing has
specific rhythms. Pranayama is Rhythmic breathing, bringing the breath in
natural rhythm by controlling the process of inhalation, exhalation and
retention. Physiology of Yogic breathing
In process of breathing, one uses diaphragm, intercostals muscles in the
chest. The diaphragmatic breathing is called vertical breathing and is
considered a more efficient way to inhale air than inhaling while
expanding the chest which is called horizontal breathing..
In pranayama, one should utilize the diaphragm efficiently to get more
oxygen without making more efforts. The diaphragm is attached to the
organs like heart and lings, also the liver, spleen, pancreas and stomach
from the bottom side. Efficient movement of the diaphragm makes the
functioning of these organs more efficient.