Prana is the vital life force-the creative force of consciousness- and Pranayama is the process by which this life force is balanced and increased through various forms of breathing exercises. Breathing is a direct means of absorbing prana and the breathing process is directly connected to the brain and central nervous system. The manner in which one breathes determines the pranic vibrations that influence one’s entire being. Prana is itself made up of three components: Soma, Agni and Marut. Everything in existence is made up of these three energies in different proportions. Soma energy is cooling, nurturing and supports growth. Agni energy is for heat and metabolizing. Marut is the energy of space in action which circulates energy within our body. Pranayama procedures balance the flow of pranic energy, enhances its availability and energizes the system. It creates vitality and enhanced energy in the physiology and balances both sides of the brain along with emotional responses. These breathing exercises are beneficial for health and all aspects of life.
There are a variety of breathing exercises suited to different individuals. One that is simple and can be done by anyone is called Alternate Nasal Breathing. This exercise can be done twice a day, in the morning and evening, for 5-10 minutes. This should be done on an empty stomach, and if you meditate it should be done prior to meditation. The technique is as follows:
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Breathe in through both nostrils.
- Use your right thumb to close your right nostril and breathe out through your left nostril, slowly and completely.
- Breathe in slowly and completely through your left nostril, then close your left nostril with the ring and middle fingers of your right hand while opening your right nostril to breathe out. Breathe out slowly and completely through your right nostril.
- Breathe in again through your right nostril, then repeat steps 3 through 5 for five to ten minutes.