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What is Pranayama?

As we continue to wade through the COVID pandemic, we have heard several instances of people developing problems with their lungs and having breathing difficulty.

In the last blog we talked about how exercise can help with our immunity. This time we will talk about how specific breathing exercises, called PRANAYAMA can help strengthen our lungs and our immunity.

PRANA represents the life force, the breath, our respiration and our energy without which we would be lifeless. AYAMA means stretching or extending this breath. During a normal process of breathing, we inhale about 500cc of air, but when we inhale deeply, this increases 6 fold to about 3000cc. This means there is 6 times more oxygen in our blood, going to the cells to burn fuel and provide energy. Just think about it, 6 times more energy, just by deep breathing!!

There are several different types of Pranayana, and each of them can provide different benefits.

If you are just beginning with these breathing exercises, the simplest exercise to start with what is called “BOX” breathing. You inhale to a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4 and again hold your breath for a count of 4. This is one cycle. This can be modified / improved on as your get more familiar with the process.

We will also discuss a couple of other Pranayama practices today.

One is KAPALABHATHI or belly breathing. Here the exhalation or the breathing out is an active process and breathing in is passive. This helps to activate the liver, spleen and pancreas and also improves the digestion. It also helps with a feeling of exhilaration.

There are some restrictions about who can do Kapalabhathi. It is not recommended for people with high BP and Nose bleeds.

The second PRANAYAMA discussed today is BRAHMARI or the bumble bee breathing. Here, we create a humming sound that helps to calm the mind, decrease anxiety and help with sleep. This can be done in the morning, but maybe best done at night to help with sleep.

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