Updated: May 24
Yoga is a very refined, and subtle science. The benefits of Yoga get multiplied many folds if the practitioner is aware of the fine details, alignments, and the adjustments required to be taken care of while doing any of the Yoga practices. While doing pranayama, or yoga breathing exercises one is directly dealing with the prana, the subtle, refined universal energy. Proper care and understanding of the finer aspects of doing yoga breathing exercises is crucial to extracting maximum pranayama benefits from the practice. A lot of my client's, questions can be clubbed into a single enquiry: how to do pranayama the right way? Here I have tried to answer all those queries, and many more by providing the details of the aspects one must keep in mind before, during, and after the practice of pranayama. One should also adhere to certain practices and tenets as a preparatory exercise for doing pranayama
Recommendations for enhancing pranayama benefits
The place where the pranayama is practised must be well ventilated, doors and windows must be open, but avoid the flow of any strong air current around the practitioner. One must not sit directly under a running fan or directly facing the blow coming from a air conditioner.
Avoid sitting directly under the Sun, broad day light, or under any bright light in case the practitioner is indoors.
One must not burn any candle, incense or a lamp using clarified butter in the place where pranayama is to be practised.
There should be nothing in the room that can distract the mind: bright colors, strong odors, or loud sound. The room must be neat and clean.
Avoid placing fragrant flowers around the place where the pranayama is to be practiced.
Use the air conditioner only in case the air in the room is polluted. Make sure that the air conditioner is not making any humming noise in order to avoid any distraction.
Avoid doing pranayama in a congested area.
The best time to practice pranayama is early morning: more of oxygen and ozone present in the atmosphere; dust particles in the air are minimum. Keep the stomach empty by passing the bowels in the morning before starting the practice of pranayama
The practitioner must eat light and simple, enough to keep oneself fit, till the practice of pranayama is being undertaken. My students take this consideration, to how to do pranayama?, as a total surprise, no one can relate the quality of diet to the pranayama benefits. Healthy dietary habits include keeping the teeth in good form and health.
Wear light and comfortable clothes to allow for easy movement of the chest and the abdomen.
Avoid smoking at least an hour before and an hour after practicing pranayama. As one advances in the practice of pranayama, giving up addictions like smoking and drinking becomes easier.
Sound sleep is important for extracting maximum pranayama benefits from the practice. Do not take any narcotics for aiding one fall asleep. One must get up early and walk at least 3 miles every day. walking will help improve the quality of the sleep.
Avoid working continuously for long hours, remember to take short breaks in between to distract the mind from the stress related to the work at hand.
One must become aware of how one breathes, always breathe through the nose, Learn about the placing ( angle) of the head over the neck which does not favour breathing from the mouth.
A healthy breath contains moisture in it, breathing from the mouth causes dryness in the mouth and the throat, which may lead to pneumonia. In nature no other animal except man breathes through the mouth.
For intensifying the pranayama benefits one must keep the nasal passage clean by regularly practicing any of the yoga nasal cleansing techniques like Jalneti. In case one is suffering from any level of cough, treat it completely before beginning to practice pranayama.
The speed of the flow of prana in the body is 950 million times more than the speed of light. Taking regular massage helps the flow of prana in the body.
Patients of consumption, asthma, heart disease, and weight lifters should avoid holding the breath while doing any of the pranayamas.
Practicing Yoga asanas before doing pranayama breathing creates the desired, sufficient hunger for air inside the body, accordingly the pranayama benefits get multiplied.
Avoid taking any medicine at least three hours before and three hours after doing pranayama
In case one feels giddy while doing pranayama, it is an indicator that one is not doing pranayama the right way or is overdoing it.
Avoid doing deep breathing exercises in places which are crowded or at locations where less amount of oxygen is present. This will reduce the pranayama benefits expected from the practice.
Pranayama benefits while one holds the breath during the practice, heart beats faster during a hold but receives lesser oxygenated blood, the blood rushes into the auricles and ventricles on the inhalation that follows the holding of the breath. This relaxes, dilates the walls of the heart.
The spine should remain erect during the practice of pranayama. Even a minor slouch in the spine puts pressure on the internal organs causing the breath to be strenuous.
The practitioner of pranayama must consciously stay free of any fear, anger, idleness, any sleep or eating disorders.
In order to enhance the quality of pranayama benefits learn to manage any stress, strain or tension present in life. Regularly practice other Yoga techniques for dissipating stress as well.
Always use a mat, cushion or a blanket to sit on while doing the pranayama. Never do the pranayama breathing while sitting on the bare floor, or ground.
Training the body to stay in the right posture, not only while sitting but also while standing or walking also help increase the pranayama benefits. There is a set of separate yoga techniques which help improve the posture.
Practice pranayamas by combining them with single or all bandhas or pranic energy locks like the throat lock or Jalandhara bandha, Mula bandha, Uddiyana bandha in order to multiply their benefits manifold
Understand the concept of time duration measure in pranayama known as Matra in order to gain control over the duration of each act of the breathing process, mastery over Matra as specified for each pranayama also helps coordinate the recommended duration ration - rhythm- between the different acts of breathing which form a sequence of a single round of any pranayama practice. Mastering the rhythm of a given sequence enhances the benefits of pranayama to the maximum possible.