Pranayama can be broadly shivered into two segments. Prana implies the vital source of energy( the subtle life force) and Yama is the control or extension or expansion. Therefore Pranayama can be enlarged as the extension of this dimension of Prana.
When our energy / prana / chi levels are low , we feel enervated. This invariably occurs when we eat in gargantuan proportions rather than partaking small morsels , either sleep excessively or do not have adequate rest. In all such cases there is a significant expenditure of the vital life force.
Energy can nevertheless be replenished through the regular practice of Pranayama , Yoga and Meditation. This fortifies the flow of Prana in the Nadis or the energy channels in the human body.
Depletion of energy takes place on account of disruption in our life styles , dietary indiscretions , emotional upheavals, or lack of physical exercise besides the human mind undergoing unnecessary stressful conditions. Humans tend to compromise on the four sources of energy namely – food, breath, rest and a calm and meditative state of mind. This leads to excessive pressure on the body and mind.
When the human mind is not in the present moment it oscillates like a pendulum between the past and the future. Humans invariably feel distressed and distraught . Our breathing becomes rapid and shallow . However when we live in the present moment, humans take deep and rhythmic breaths and consequently remain calm and are in a meditative state of mind.
Strangely enough through the regular practice of Pranayama and breathing techniques like Sudarshan Kriya the mind gets entrenched in the present moment. Proper practice of Pranayama under the tutelage of an enlightened Guru assists us in performing Yogic exercises and also lead us into deep meditation.
The human body is powered by five primordial elements . These are earth, water, fire , air and space. These are all extremely important , interwoven and interrelated but it is Vayu that sustains our life. We can be without food or water for a few days but cannot survive without breathing.
Our Rishis have succinctly opined that Pranayama is nothing but the worship of VayuDevata or the wind God. The powers of Vayu are immense and was known to our ancestors and the Rishis. No wonder we pray to Lord Hanuman during our trials and tribulations. He is the closest to Narayana , nourishes and sustains us and strengthens our bodies physically and mentally.
‘ Let us enjoy hundred springs say the esoteric Upanishads’. Scholars opine that ‘ Let us live for a hundred years , that implies- one has to live for a hundred years to blissfully appreciate a hundred springs. And this can be achieved only through regular practice of Yoga. Yoga is a much misunderstood word. It is assumed to be merely a set of physical exercises. That is an incorrect perception of Yoga. Yoga in Sanskrit actually means Yuj( union with the self and divine). Yoga transcends the metaphysical and is not confined to the realm of mere physical plane.
It may be also mentioned that Pranayama is the fourth principle of Ashtanga Yoga as delineated by Maharishi Patanjali. Pranayama should be coupled with mindful eating and breathing. These are keys to balanced physical and mental health. Fortuitously the generation today are verily being exposed to the secrets of breath and this is a positive development.
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