Understanding Yoga and Pranayama

Yoga is a scientific system of physical and mental practices that originated in India more than 3000 years ago. It is not just physical fitness training. Yoga is an ancient Indian philosophy that enhances personal growth and well being of the practitioner. It is extremely powerful stuff and is part of the Hindu religion and a way of life.

Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems of Indian Philosophy. It is a science that has been practiced for thousands of years. Yoga is anything but aerobics, not gymnastic. There are those who think Yoga is nothing else but origins of breathwork standing on one’s head or sitting somewhere in a Buddha-like posture without moving. Or they believe it is a religion. Yoga is a practical aid, not a religion. A male who practices yoga is called a yogi, a female practitioner, a yogini.

Yoga philosophy consists of eight limbs. Ashtanga which basically means asth (Eight) and Anga (limbs) or eight parts of yoga. Which includes, Yum, Niyam, Asana, Pranayma, dyana, pratyahar, dharana and samadhi.

In my first series of articles, We’ll discuss Pranayama.As Yoga exercise is incomplete without purification of your internal Soul. You can treat Yoga as purification of body and Pranayama and other limbs as purification of soul.

Pranayama is the science of breath control. Pranayama is the fourth limb in Astanga Yoga. Considering the physiology of Pranayama, Swami Niranjananda of Bihar School of Yoga has classified Pranayama as hyperventilation and hypoventilation.

Pranayama can be called the singular most important aspect of yoga as they are means to purify the subtle energies flowing through the body. Pranayama is an important, yet little known part of Yoga. Pranayama establishes regular breathing patterns, breaking this negative cycle, and reversing the process.

Any Yoga classes should normally include practice of pranayama (breathing techniques, Dhyana (meditation), yoga nidra (psychic sleep or deep relaxation), and philosophy and practice of yoga. Pranayama will focus on various forms and practices of nadi shodana pranayama to balance the nervous system and cultivate prana.

The asanas consist of gentle stretching, balancing, and resistance movements and involve nearly every muscle of the body. Unlike stretching or fitness, Yoga is more than just physical postures. Though it is very easy, but Please consult with your doctor before beginning a stretching or yoga practice, and listen to your own body and its limitations.

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