Benefits of Pranayama
Yoga in a deeper level
The breathing of worldly people is irregular. In exhalation the breath goes out 16 digits, and in inhalation only 12 digits, thus losing 4 clear digits of breath in every act of inspiration and expiration.
Now just imagine how much Prana is wasted every day by you at this rate!
If you can inhale 16 digits of Prana as in exhalation, everything is all right. There is absolutely no loss then.
You will have rhythmical breathing. The Kundalini will be roused. Moreover, by practicing this exercise and making it part and parcel of your daily life, you will enjoy perfect rest, a rest that you have never known or enjoyed even in your deep sleep.
The one striking feature of rhythmical breathing is that the time-unit is the same both in inhalation and exhalation.
This is done in the following manner: Inhale till you mentally count 6 OMs and exhale till you count mentally 6 OMs. This is breathing in and out in a measured and harmonious manner. This kind of breathing will harmonise the whole system.
There is another variety in rhythmical breathing. You inhale through both the nostrils till you mentally count 4 OMs, retain the breath till you count 8 OMs and exhale through both the nostrils till you count 4 OMs.
Then retain the breath outside (external Kumbhaka) till you count OMs.
These four processes constitute one Pranayama. Do this as many times as your strength and capacity would allow. Gradually increase the duration of inhalation and exhalation till you count 16 OMs.
There is no hurry. Enjoy every breath you inhale and exhale. Enjoy also the retention of breath. Pay good attention to the rhythm throughout. Feel the rhythm throughout your system.
By slow and gradual practice with zeal and enthusiasm, you will attain perfection. Weep not! Grieve not! You are nearing the goal now, my child!
Kapala means a skull and Bhati means to shine. Because this exercise makes your skull shine, it is called Kapalabhati. It is a wonderful exercise to cleanse the skull nicely.
This exercise also does not come under the category of Pranayama, but as it is a breathing exercise, it deserves a place of honour.
Sitting on your usual meditative-pose, do Puraka and Rechaka so vigorously that you perspire profusely. There is no Kumbhaka in this exercise. But Rechaka plays a prominent part.
Puraka is mild, slow and long and is best done by releasing the abdominal muscles, while Rechaka is forceful and quick and is done by contracting the abdominal muscle with a backward push.
The important point to remember while doing this exercise is to keep the body, head and neck erect, and not to bend even a bit. In the beginning you can have one round only consisting of 10 expulsions in the morning. That will suffice. In the second week you can do the same in the evening also.
In the third week have two rounds in the morning and two in the evening. In this manner you can cautiously and slowly increase 10 expulsions to each round till you get 120 expulsions per round.
The benefits of this exercise are even more alluring. The respiratory system and the nasal passages are thoroughly cleansed, the spasm in the bronchial tubes is removed, asthma is cured, the apices of the lungs are nicely oxygenized, consumption is cured and the impurities of the blood are eliminated.
The circulatory and the respiratory systems are toned up beautifully, and the practitioner enjoys blooming health and vigour.
Sitting on your favourite meditative pose again and closing the eyes, inhale through the right nostril, retain the breath by forming Jalandhara Bandha till perspiration flows from the tips of the nails and the hairs of the body stand on end, and then exhale through the left nostril slowly.
Of course in this exercise you cannot reach the point of perspiration at the very outset; but gradually increasing the period of Kumbhaka you will by all means attain it.
By the constant practice of this Kumbhaka, cephalalgia is relieved, coryza is cured, and the worms in the frontal sinuses are expelled.
The practice of this Kumbhaka enhances the personal beauty of the practitioner. Assuming again your favourite pose, inhale through both the nostrils in a smooth, methodical and uniform manner till the inspired breath fills the space between the throat and the stomach with a noise.
Retain the breath as long as you can comfortably do and then exhale slowly through the left nostril.
The striking feature of this exercise is that a mild, uniform, continuous and peculiar sound is heard due to the partial closure of the glottis.
This Kumbhaka is also practiced while standing or walking.
Then instead of exhaling through the left nostril only, you can exhale through both the nostrils. In any case, start with three rounds and add one round every week gradually.
The practitioner of this Kumbhaka gets rid of pulmonary, cardiac and dropsical diseases.
All diseases dependent upon deficient inhalation of oxygen are cured.
Folding the tongue in such amanner that the tip of the tongue touches the upper palate, draw the air through the mouth producing a sound of c. c. c., retain the breath as long as you can without the feeling of suffocation and then exhale through both the nostrils.
These three processes constitute one round. Start with three rounds and add one round every week.
This Kumbhaka increases the beauty and vigour of the body, removes hunger and thirst, indolence and sleep and makes the whole body cool. Many diseases of the blood are cured.
Contract the lips and throw out the tongue. Fold the tongue like a tube and draw in the air through it making a hissing sound.
Fill the lungs and stomach slowly with the air drawn in, and retain the same as long as you can do with comfort. Then exhale through both the nostrils.
Practise this 10 to 20 times daily, morning and evening.
The practitioner acquires great tenacity of life and the power to repair the effects of injury.
He is freed from all fevers, splenitis and several other organic diseases. Like crabs, lobsters, serpents and frogs, he becomes proof against all kinds of inflammations.
He acquires the power to cast off his skin and endure the privation of air, food and drink. Poisons of all sorts in the blood are thrown out and the blood is purified.
Scorpion-stings and serpent-bites cannot injure him in any way. Whenever you feel thirsty, do this Pranayama a few times. At once your thirst will be quenched.
Bhastrika means bellows. Quick succession of powerful expulsions of breath is the chief characteristic of this Pranayama.
Just as the village smith blows out his bellows quickly and rapidly, so also the practitioner of this exercise blows out the bellows of his lungs in quick and rapid succession.
Sit on Padmasana or Siddhasana with the body, neck and head erect. Close the mouth. Inhale and exhale quickly 6 to 10 times in rapid succession like the bellows of the village-smith.
While practicing this Pranayama a hissing sound is loudly heard.
If you can expel 10 times like this the tenth expulsion is followed by a deepest inhalation, retained as long as it can be done with comfort, and another deepest exhalation.
This completes one round of Bhastrika. Take rest for a while after one round is over, and do another round, and another round.
In the beginning you can have three rounds in the morning and three in the evening. You must be able to expel 120 times at a stretch by cautious and gradual practice.
If you can do Kapalabhati and Ujjayi nicely, you will find this Pranayama quite easy. Some do this exercise till they get quite fatigued.
Then you will profusely perspire. Stop the practice even if there is the slightest giddiness. Take a few normal breaths. Then you can resume the practice again after the giddiness is gone.
This Pranayama requires some skill on the part of the practitioner. If you can do this perfectly, you can float on water for any length of time, even though you do not know swimming.
It enables you to live purely on air for some days.
It is done as follows: Drink the air like water through the mouth and fill your stomach with it.
The stomach becomes inflated. You will hear a tympanic sound, if you tap it with your fingers. Practise the Pranayama slowly and gradually.
The air is then expelled from the stomach by slow belching.
Kumbhaka is of two sorts—Sahita and Kevala. The Kumbhaka that is associated with Puraka and Rechaka is called Sahita; that which is devoid of these two is called Kevala (pure and absolute).
Kevala Kumbhaka should be practiced when the Sahita Kumbhaka has been completely mastered.
In the Vasishtha Samhita you will find: “When after giving up inhalation and exhalation, one holds his breath with ease, it is absolute Kumbhaka (Kevala Kumbhaka).”
In this Pranayama the practitioner can retain his breath as long as he likes. He attains the stage of Raja-Yoga.
Practise this three times a day, morning, midday and evening. He is a real Yogi who knows this Kumbhaka and Pranayama.
Now there is nothing unattainable by him in all the three worlds. This Kumbhaka cures all diseases, bestows longevity of life and awakens the Kundalini-Sakti, which passes through the hollow Sushumna-Nadi to the crown of the head, after piercing one Chakra after another.
BENEFITS OF PRANAYAMA
Perfection in Pranayama gives you the major eight Siddhis viz., Anima, Mahima, Laghima, Garima, Prapti, Prakamya, Vasitvam and Isitvam. Anima is the power to become as minute as you like, whereas Mahima makes you as big as you like.
By Laghima you can make your body as light as a feather and fly in the sky thousands of miles in a minute. Garima can make your body as heavy as a mountain.
By the power of Prapti you can predict all future events, understand unknown languages, cure any disease, hear distant sounds, see distant objects, smell mystical fragrant odours, touch the sun and the moon with the tip of your fingers from where you stand, and understand the language of birds and beasts. Indeed you can attain all desired objects.
By Prakamya you can cast away the old skin and assume a youth-like appearance for an unusual length of time.
You can also enter the body of another person. Sri Sankaracharya had this power.
He entered the body of the Raja of Benares. Yayati, Tirumulanar and Raja Vikramaditya had also this power.
Vasitvam is the power to tame wild beasts and bring them under your control.
By the exercise of this power, you can make anybody obey your orders and wishes. You can control the elements and be amaster of passions and emotions.
Isitvam is the attainment of all divine powers. You now become the Lord of the universe. You can give life to a dead man.
Kabirdas, Tulasidas, Akalkot Swami and many others had this power. By possessing this power you can penetrate all secrets of nature, know the events of the past, present and future and become one with the Supreme Soul.
You will also get the thirty-six other minor Siddhis such as freedom from hunger and thirst, heat and cold, pleasure and pain; death at your will, playing with gods, power to transmute baser metals into gold.