Monday, July 15, 2024

Pranayama and its benefits that you may have never known about

Shubhi Agrawal

Stress, anxiety, and increased blood pressure have become some of the most common health problems that the human race has to deal with nowadays. While medications and therapies could work to improve the health of an individual, to get long-term benefits, one must always trust in yoga, most specifically pranayama. So, what is pranayama? Why is it so beneficial? Let us know.

What is Pranayama?

The word “Pranayama” has been formed as a combination of two words, “Prana” and “Yama.” Prana means energy, and Yama stands for control. Pranayama is a form of breathing exercise and the practice of breath regulation. During pranayama, one is supposed to control and regulate the timing, duration, and frequency of every breath that one inhales and exhales.

The primary purpose behind doing pranayama is to control your body and mind and create a connection between the two. While doing pranayama, the body gets richly supplied with oxygen which helps in detoxifying the body and removing all the harmful chemicals from it. Pranayama also involves different breathing techniques such as Nadi shodhana, Ujjayi, Bhramari, and Bhastrika, which provide one with physiological advantages as well.

Origin of pranayama

Of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, pranayama is the fourth one. The traces of the origin of pranayama go back to ancient times, roughly around the fifth and sixth centuries BCE. Pranayama has always been an important yoga activity in ancient India. Not only this, but there is also a mention of pranayama in epics and yoga texts such as The Bhagavad Gita, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Pranayama was also related to holy rituals and chanting during the Vedic period. In Gurukul, the students had to chant long mantras, some of which even required inhaling and holding a single breath. Also, pranayama was a part performed during Yajnas and while giving “Aahuti”. Before offering oblations in the sacred fire, people used to hold their breath. Thus, we can see that pranayama has always been a major part of ancient India.

Advantages of pranayama

No doubt, pranayama has a lot of advantages that have resulted in making pranayama one of the most important yoga practices throughout the world. Some of the major advantages of pranayama are as follows-

Reduces Stress

According to studies that were conducted a few years back, pranayama was known to calm the nervous system. This improves the stress response and reduces stress in people. Individuals who practice regular pranayama are known to have less anxiety and stress in comparison to others.

Improves Sleep Quality

Pranayama involves different breathing techniques. One of its techniques, Bhramari, is believed to lower the breathing rate and heart rate. Continuously doing Bhramari for 3-5 minutes can calm the system and help us get a good and peaceful sleep easily. Thus, pranayama improves sleep quality and reduces stress.

Increases Mindfulness

As stated earlier, pranayama is the connection between the mind and body. It is purposely done so that you can focus on your breathing and control it accordingly. Regular pranayama helps an individual to connect with their mind and body gradually with time. This in turn results in increasing the mindfulness of the person, and they can then make better decisions easily.

Why is pranayama important in the modern world?

Quite evidently, the modern world is filled with immense stress, anxiety, and hustle that never seems to end. Nearly every individual is found to be troubled for one reason or the other. When most of the activities of the day are performed by people in a hurry, the practice of pranayama can help them to think and be mindful even when under stress.

Regular practice of pranayama can help an individual connect the mind and body and meditate thereafter. It is of utmost help in calming the mind, body, and soul altogether. Studies show that practicing pranayama can reduce the levels of stress and anxiety in an individual. Not only this, but pranayama is also known to increase the sleep quality of a person, which is pretty important in today’s world.

Why is pranayama gaining worldwide popularity?

The sole reason behind the worldwide popularity of pranayama is the range of benefits that it has to provide to anyone who practices the technique. Pranayama calms the body and mind altogether. It reduces stress and anxiety and strengthens the mind and the nervous system. The habit of pranayama can help one to develop and enhance oneself as an individual and therefore, many people all over the world are including pranayama in their lives for a better and stress-free life.

How can pranayama benefit the human race?

Pranayama has been an important yoga practice since ancient times. Even during rituals and prayers, people used to do pranayama, knowingly or unknowingly. There is no doubt that pranayama benefits the human race in several ways. First and foremost, pranayama reduces the levels of stress and anxiety in a person, and it helps an individual get better and more peaceful sleep.

Adding onto that, pranayama is known to reduce the levels of blood pressure in humans. Those who suffer from high blood pressure can practice pranayama to normalize the blood pressure level in their body. This way, pranayama prevents the risk of a heart attack. During pranayama, breathing is purposely controlled. So, it also helps in removing toxic chemicals from our bodies.

All in all, pranayama is a breath control activity and a major component of yoga. It has been in practice since ancient times. Even the Bhagavad Gita and other texts of the past have a mention of pranayama. Since ancient culture, pranayama has been of utmost importance to people, and they have continued practicing it to date.

In modern times, pranayama serves the purpose of relieving stress, anxiety, and depression. The practice of pranayama reduces blood pressure levels as well. With the health benefits that are associated with pranayama, the entire human race is going to benefit in multiple ways.  

Pranayama should therefore, by all means, be promoted on an international level. This would not only be of the utmost advantage to the human race, but it would also help in promoting the ancient Indian culture to the rest of the world.

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