When it comes to discussing pranayama, many people have different notions. But only a few know the full extent of pranayama. During the period of time, many definitions have emerged, but only a few describe the true meaning of pranayama.
Pranayama is based on “Prana” which is the important energy required by our physical as well as subtle layers, and without it, the body would perish. It is the life force within us which nourishes our mind and keeps us alive. “Prana” refers to the life force in the universe while “Ayama” means to regulate. Pranayama essentially means working in prana’s dimension.
Prana flows through various energy channels called “nadis” along with energy centers called “chakras”. State of mind of one is defined by the quality as well as the quantity of prana along with flows through these channels. Smooth flow and high level of prana mean the person is calm. Without the proper flow of this energy, a person can feel worried, fear, etc. Pranayama helps in maintaining prana and flow of energy.
Talking about physiological points of different effects of pranayama, there are many inferences that can be made. Pranayama assists in the efficient and smooth functioning of various systems of the body. By means of inspiration, expiration along with retention, it results in the rise as well as fall of the diaphragm along with relaxation and contraction of abdominal muscles helps in massaging the bowels and the kidneys and hence helps in removing congestion if it exists. It results in toning of nerves and muscles of both the bowels and kidneys.
When it comes to the health of respiration, it is dependent on the strength of respiratory muscles along with good elasticity of lungs. During pranayama, the chest expands to its fullest extent many times which put the lungs on the utmost stretch. Hence, these organs are trained to operate with efficiency during the remainder of the day.
All the organs associated with digestion as well as absorption like the stomach, the liver, and the pancreas, they all get exercised in pranayama. It is done by gently massing of them by the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles. It leads to removal of congestion of liver along with correction of the function of the unhealthy pancreas. It also removes gastric disorders.
By pranayama, there is a gentle massage of the heart, and it helps in working of the circulatory system with satisfaction. During pranayama, the diaphragm along with lower abdominal muscles pull the spine’s lower part as a whole. The venus blood from the brain is subsequently drained quite thoroughly, and fresh arterial blood is provided to the brain. This results in instantaneous refreshing results.
Scientific Observations of Pranayama
1. Abhyantara Kumbhaka results in a decrease in Heart Rate.
2. After Kapalbhati, if Kumbhaka is performed, it changes PQ interval up to 300ms.
3. During Bhastrika, EEG changes much more than during Kapalbhati. During Kumbhka, development of chirhythm has been observed.
3. In pranayama, Kumbhaka as well as extended expiration results in better utilization of Oxygen under lower ventilation, and there is a specific effect of Carbon Di-Oxide. During the expiration, excitability level of the person is lower. Hence, relaxation is more intensive, and full Savasana is only possible in case of during expiration and after expiration.
4. For Puraka-Recaka and Puraka-Kumbhaka-Recaka, the percentage of Carbon dioxide in the expired air was found to be in a relationship with duration of one round in different ratios.
5. Carbon di oxide volume per unit of time is proved to maximum during pranayama. This indicated either its retention or decrease in production.
6. Retention of breath has little influence on the gaseous exchange.
7. During pranayama breathing with puraka-kumbhaka-recaka, minute ventilation was found.
8. After during Bhastrike pranayama for 45 minutes, there was no increase in urinary acidity.
9. Relaxed, contracted conditions of the abdominal wall didn’t affect breath holding for 50 secs.
10. There was increase by 17% in Cardiac output along with a decrease in heart rate during ujjayi breathing without kumbhaka.
11. There was increased absorption of oxygen percentage as well as the elimination of carbon dioxide percentage in expired air during the increased duration of kumbhaka and recaka.
12. The cycle of alternate congestion as well as decongestion of nasal mucosa of left and right nostril can be changed by Yoga Danda.
12. There was a reduction in nasal resistance due to breath holding and hyperventilation resulted in an increase in the congestion.
13. There is a relationship between the dominance of right nostril and food intake as per svarasastra texts. Right nostril dominance is related with quite as well as receptive mood, and balanced flow of nostrils is related with inner meditative awareness.
These are the major scientific observations and benefits of pranayama. Hope this provides you the necessary information regarding various aspects of pranayama. These observations are made by scientists from many countries over a period of time and are duly published in renowned journals.
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