Prana Yoga is yoga of the life force. "Pranayama is control on Breath", which is a form of Prana Yoga. Prana is breath or life sustaining energy in the body. One can control the upbeat of pranic energy with pranayama and obtain healthy body and mind.
Let’s have a better insight into the Prana Yoga:
Five types of prana are liable for several pranic functions in the body, they are Apana, Prana, Samana, Udana and Vyan, Out of these Apana and Prana are of utmost importance. Prana represents the upward flow and Apana the downward flow. Practice of Pranayama acquires the equilibrium in the functions of these pranas, which leads to healthy body and mind.
The process of Pranayama is associated with the breathing, the symbol of life. And hence, if done wrongly, it may adversely affect the individual. The second reason behind its unpopularity is the dearth of teachers who can teach it scientifically. It is equally true that if one does Pranayama incorrectly, without right guidance, one obviously suffers. But it does not mean it is difficult to do. If it is learnt and practiced under expert's guidance one can experience the wonderful and even incredible benefits.
Even after having learnt and practiced these Asanas thoroughly, one requires some specific preparation prior to virtually doing Pranayama. Actual Pranayama stands for holding up of the process of inhaling and exhaling.
Before practicing the exercises of breathing it is imperative to understand the process of breathing. The breathing process primarily involves two activities, viz., inhaling and exhaling. The former is called "Puraka" and the second one "Rechaka"' in Yogashastra. These two functions continue all through a human life.
Based on the flow of breathing, it is separated into three parts:
The natural flow of breathing without any effort (Quiet Breathing)
The slow breathing which is resultant of purposefully simmering down of the breathing (Deep Breathing)
The quick breathing which is resultant of intended increase in the speed of breathing (Fast Breathing)
The first two fingers of the right hand palm are to be twisted and last two fingers are to be kept straight and held together facing your opposite direction.
Now straighten the thumb and bending the right hand of the elbow, place the twisted fingers in a way that they come near the lips.
Keep the hand away from shoulder to elbow stick to the chest.
Put the right hand thumb on the right side of the nose and last two fingers on the other side of the nose.
Now using the thumb, the nasal cavity of the right nose can be closed and by facilitating the last two fingers left cavity of the nose can be closed.
Put slight pressure and just below the nasal bone, where the fleshy part starts.
With this placement of the fingers, one can close the two nasal cavities.
Don’t move any other part of body. The face should be kept quite and relaxed in order to practice breathing more prominently.
In order to practice the cycle of inhaling and exhaling, six types are elucidated. These are virtually the types of quick breathing. While practicing these kinds one should first sit in one of the following Asanas: Padmasana, Swastikasana, or Vajrasana. Then, place the left hand in Dhyana Mudra and the other hand in Pranava Mudra. Close the eyes and the concentrate on breathing.
Type - 1 Leave both the nostrils open and breathe freely using both the nasal openings. This type is called quick breathing with both the nasal openings. One should take and throw air as fast as possible and for as much time as possible.
Type - 2 Sit in Pranava Mudra and block the right passage of nose pressing thumb of the right hand against the nostril and breathe with left nose passage and also exhale using the same nasal cavity. In short this type can be narrated as rapid breathing with the left nostril.
Type - 3 In this type of breathing technique left nostril is closed and the fast breathing is done facilitating right nostril passage.
Type - 4 In this type close right nasal passage and inhale with the left nasal passage, and then block left nostril and intake air with the right nostril. In this way try fast breathing by changing the nostrils using thump pressure on alternate nostrils.
Type - 5 In this technique the breathing is just contrary to the previous one, that is, the left nasal passage is blocked and inhaling is done with the right nasal passage, then blocking the right nasal passage, exhaling is done with the left nasal passage.
Type - 6 This type of breathing is designed by fusing previous two types i.e., type 4 and type 5. First inhale facilitating left nostril and exhale with right one, then inhale facilitating right nostril and exhale with left nostril. Later carry on the same process i.e. inhaling and exhaling with left and right nostrils one after another. Further shift to fast breathing by enhancing the speed of breathing. After ample practice the speed of breathing can be enhanced prominently.
One should begin with eleven respective cycles of breathing, and it should be enhanced to one hundred and twenty on. However, later this breathing should be made a part and parcel of daily schedule of other Asanas, and be practiced for two or three minutes regularly. All these types of breathing processes can also be practiced with slow inhalation and exhalation.
It is noteworthy that practicing these types of breathing techniques does not mean doing Pranayama. This is just the first step towards preparation of the actual practice of Pranayama.