However, both are two different limbs of Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Both operate at a different level and both offer different benefits.
Asana: Is about physical postures. It is about the body. Doing physical postures help you to keep the body function and flexibility in order.
Pranayama: Is about breathing exercise. Prana is about the life force. Pranayama means controlling the life force i.e. breaths.
What is breathing?
Usually, our breathing happens automatically. From birth till the death, it happens effortlessly without our consciousness. This is the reason we do not learn how to breathe properly.
Many people do chest / thoracic breathing. This is a shallow breathing. This is a wrong technique. It causes several health problems too. Your lungs remain starved of Oxygen.
The right way to breath is to have your abdominal movement while you breathe. This is a deep breathing. Your lungs get adequate oxygen with deep breathing.
“When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath.” Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika
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Advantages of Deep Breathing:
Calm the mind:
When you get less oxygen in your brain, chances of you’re getting angry/irritated increase. This is the reason when you are angry people suggest to take a deep breath. Deep breaths inhale more oxygen and your brain get more oxygen. This results in calming your anger and mind
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De-stress the body
When we are stressed we take quick breaths. This is shallow breathing. Deep breathing is an effective way to deal with the stress. Deep breathing makes more oxygen available to the body parts, your heart and mind relax with more oxygen.
Feeling stressed and anxious? Start taking a few deep breaths.
Our body consumes lots of toxins from the environment and food. Our breaths deal with these toxins. With more deep breaths more detoxification happens. In the absence of adequate oxygen, detoxification remains incomplete. This makes our body susceptible to disease.
More oxygen to the lungs means purer blood. This reinvigorates the entire body. All body parts function at higher capacity. This makes our body more energised.
In fact, more oxygen and purer blood make all the body system function at the higher capacity. This improves the digestive system and appetite.
Another important benefit of Deep breathing is a healthy heart. More oxygen, better for the heart function.
If your body posture is wrong, it restricts your abdominal breathing. Deep breathing makes our body straight.
Stress-free and oxygenated mind makes us sleep well. More sound sleep is good for our health
Deep breathing enables more oxygen available to the body. More oxygen to the body parts means body parts become healthy.
Shallow oxygen makes body parts starved form oxygen and their health deteriorates.
Like water, deep breathing makes oxygen available to our body parts in adequate quantity. More oxygen is good for our entire body.
Coming back to Pranayama, Pranayama is about correct and controlled breathing. The practice of Pranayama makes us conscious of our breathing. From automatic to conscious. This is an important consciousness.
Learn how to breathe correctly:
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- Puraka: Inhalation of the breath
- Antar Kumbhak: Holding the breath inside the body
- Rechaka: Exhalation of the breath
- Bahya Kumbhak: Holding the breath outside the body
- Mula Bandh: Holding the anus muscles
- Jivha Bandh: Tongue lock
- Jalandhar Bandh: Neck lock
Types of Pranayama with videos explaining how to perform each Pranayama:
Suruabhedan & Chandradhyas
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Health Benefits of Pranayama:
- Reduces Mental Stress
- Better Sleep
- Treats a frequent Cough and Cold
- Reduces Fear
- Helps in Asthma
- Better Digestion
- Cures Constipation
- Helps in Mental Disorders
Since Pranayama deals with mind and breath, it is pertinent to learn the Pranayama from a learned Yoga Guru. Do not start practicing of your own by reading from the book.
“As a fire blazes brightly when the covering of ash over it is scattered by the wind, the divine fire within the body shines in all its majesty when the ashes of desire are scattered by the practice of pranayama.” B.K.S. Iyengar
Pranayama is good for meditative practices. Daily and regular practice of Pranayama offers immense mind and body benefits. Include Pranayama in your daily fitness regime.
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