Pranayama and its Classification

Pranayama is the third practice of Hatha Yoga. After practicing Kriya (cleansing techniques) and Asana we prepare ourselves for the practice of Pranayama. Pranayama is practised to increase the vitality of the body and mind. The aim of Pranayama is not to introduce extra oxygen into lungs. But its to make our breath slow, deep and rhythmic. Finally, this slow breath is suspended automatically, which is the goal of Pranayama.

Pranamaya is deeply related to mind and is used as an indirect way to control and pacify the mind. For spiritual advancement one requires tranquility of mind. For that end Pranayama is a very effective tool. Pranayama creates three kinds of states in the mind. On the basis of these states Pranayama can be classified into three groups:

  • Stimulating

One is the stimulating group of Pranayama. These Pranayamas stimulates the body, mind, prana and the senses. It intensifies the sensations and the body experiences stimulation. Kapalabhati and Bhastrika Pranayama are stimulating in nature as they generate heat in the body and increase blood pressure and heart beat.

  • Tranquilizing & Cooling

The second group of Pranayama cools the various parts of the body, relaxing them and giving them rest. They relieve stress and tension, alleviate anger, anxiety and insomnia and reduce blood pressure. This group of Pranayama calms any stimulation in the body and the senses. This includes Sheetali, Sheetkari and Bhramari Pranayama.

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  • Balancing

The third group of Pranayama involves balancing the energies and senses. It increases vitality and lowers levels of stress by harmonizing the pranas. It clears the pranic blockages and balances ida (left) and pingala (right) nadi. This includes Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.

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