Pranayama has the capacity of freeing the mind from untruthfulness, ignorance and all other painful and unpleasant experiences of the body and mind; and when the mind becomes clean it becomes easy for the Sadhaka to concentrate on the desired object and it becomes possible for him to progress further in the direction of Dhyana and Samadhi.
By Yog asanas, we remove the distortions and disabilities of the physical body and bring it into discipline. However Pranayama influences the subtle and the physical bodies in a greater measure than Yogsanas do and that too in a perceptible manner. In the human body, lungs, heart and brain hold very important positions and they depend on each other heavily for their health.
Physically, Pranayam appears to be a systematic exercise of respiration, which makes the lungs stronger, improves blood circulation, makes the man healthier and bestows upon him the boon of a long life. Physiology teaches us that the air (Prana) we breathe in fills our lungs, spreads in the entire body, providing it with essential form the body, take them to the heart and then to the lungs, which throws the useless material like carbon dioxide out of the body through the act of exhalation. If this action of the respiratory system is done regularly and efficiently, lungs become stronger and blood becomes pure.
However, most of the people do not have the habit of breathing deeply with the result that only one-fourth part of the lungs is brought into action and 75 percent remains idle. Like the honeycomb, lungs are made of about 73 million cells, comparable to a sponge in their making. On normal breathing, to which we all are accustomed, only about 20 million pores in the lungs get oxygen, whereas remaining 53 million pores remain deprived of the benefit, with the result that they get contaminated by several diseases like tuberculosis, respiratory diseases and several ailments like coughing, bronchitis etc.
In this way, the inefficient functioning of the lungs affects the process of blood purification. Heart weakens because of this with a constant possibility of untimely death. It is for this reason that the importance of Pranayama has come to be recognised, for a healthy long life. Several diseases can be averted by regular practice of Pranayama.Hence, it is obvious that the knowledge of the science of Pranayama and its regular practice enables a man to lead a healthy and long life. It is for this reason that in several Hindu religious rites, Pranayama is found to have been introduced as an essential element.
Mental disturbances like excitement, anxiety, fear, anger, disappointment, lust for sex (lasciviousness) and other mental perversions can be calmed down by regular practice of Pranayama. Besides, Pranayama practice improves the functions of the brain cells with the result that memory and the faculty of discrimination and observation improves, making it easy for the Sadhaka to perform concentration and meditation.
Another benefit of Pranayama is that by its regular practice, habit of deep breathing is developed which results in several health benefits. It is said that the nature determines our life span on the basis of the number of respirations we do. Man gets the next birth in accordance with his karmas (deeds) done in the present life.
Our karmas (deeds) result in the formation of certain tendencies, which determine the nature of our next birth either as humans or as animals of various categories. A man, who regularly performs Pranayama, is required to take lesser number of breaths and therefore lives longer.
Effects of Pranayamas
- Preservation of the body’s health
- Purification of the blood
- Improvement in the absorption of oxygen
- Strengthening the lungs and heart
- Regulation of blood pressure
- Regulation of the nervous system
- Supporting the healing process and healing therapies
- Increasing resistance to infection
- Elimination of stress, nervousness and depression
- Quietening of thoughts and emotions
- Inner balance
- Release of energy blockages
- Deepening of meditation
- Awakening and purification of the Chakras (energy centres)
- Expansion of consciousness