Pranayama: The Ayurvedic Health Benefits Of Balanced Breathing

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Have you ever thought about the way you breathe or the real magic behind your breathing? What will happen if your breath stops for a minute or two? Unimaginable and sounds pathetic, right? Pranayama can be called as the art of breathing for healthy living. This Sanskrit word means ‘extension of the life force’ in which ‘Prana’ means ‘breath or life force’ and ‘ayama’ means ‘expansion or to extend’. Ancient Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita have explained in detail about ‘Prana’ and its role in health and ailments. According to Ayurveda, Pranayama is a respiratory exercise and an exemplary technique to maintain physical health and augment mental health through spiritual values while harmonizing with the universal prana.

What is Pranayama? Pranayama is a vital part of the Yogic science, which is the sister science of Ayurveda. With the clear definition derived from the above para, all I have to explain about this spiritual healing technique is that it is the ‘control of breathing in a learned style’. This ideal breathing practice helps the body to meet its necessary oxygen requirements and release carbon-di-oxide and other toxins from the body. Pranayama should be done only after getting a proper training from an expert in Yoga. If done incorrectly, this exercise might increase the imbalances in the doshas, consequently ending up with diseases.

The three simple steps of Pranayama include Puraka (Inhalation), Kumbhaka (Retention) and Recaka (Exhalation). Slow and deep inhalation helps in the intake of enough oxygen for the body followed by total retention of the inhaled oxygen, which enables the system to acquire it. At the time of retaining the breath within, attention is focused on any particular part of the body like the forehead or the heart for gaining inner light. The final step is exhalation that is done through lungs or abdomen, where the impurities from your body are exhaled out.

Ayurvedic health benefits of Pranayama: Ayurveda is a holistic healing methodology that considers an individual as a universe in the universe based upon the solid principle that universe is also made up of the 5 vital elements and human body is also made up of the same 5 elements. Ayurveda considers ‘Pranayama’ as a juncture at which an individual’s own consciousness attains oneness with the universal consciousness. This paves way for realizing the immortal spirit vested within our body. The most significant health benefits of Pranayama according to Ayurveda are:

1. Enhances the quality of life: Pranayama or Yogic breathing helps you learn the art of deep and slow breathing, which aids in reduced rate of breathing. The normal respiratory rate in adults is about 12 breaths per minute at the time of rest. Increased respiratory rate like 20 or 30 breaths per minute are seen only in sick people, especially who are diagnosed with cancer, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS and few other chronic conditions. Dr AC Guyton has said in The Textbook of Medical Physiology that “All chronic pain, suffering and diseases are caused from a lack of oxygen at the cell level”. Ayurveda recommends the practice of Pranayama to acquire enough oxygen to all the cells of the body and for reduced rate of breathing say about 5 to 6 breaths per minute. This helps in relaxation of nerves and muscles while lessening the wear and tear of internal organs.

2. Longevity or Increased life span: Increased life span or longevity is based upon an individual’s rate of breathing, according to Yoga, the sister science of Ayurveda. Pranayama teaches one to lower the rate of breathing and directly contributes to increased life span. As most of us know, one of the predominant living organisms on earth that has the highest life span is Tortoise and the major reason being its reduced rate of breathing that is only 4 to 5 breaths per minute.

3. Contributes to a healthy heart: A healthy heart is an incredible treasure supporting your welfare. This is an active organ of the body that works 24/7 in all the 365 days in a year. Practicing Pranayama regularly helps in the circulation of more oxygen to the blood and consequently supplies more oxygen to the heart and its muscles. This supports better functioning of your heart and effectively removes the toxins from the body.

4. Improves mental health: Inculcating regular practice of Pranayama strengthens your mind and grants you ultimate solace. A disturbed mind and a stressful life demands most of our time and steals our joy and serenity. Pranayama can also be called as positive breathing as it sows positive thoughts in our mind and emancipates the negative feelings like materialism, anger, depression, jealousy, stinginess, sluggishness, egotism and many other. This healing exercise improves the concentration power and paves way for better memory, enhanced spiritual skills and the eternal feeling of inner peace and harmony.

5. Healthy aging: Pranayama is the perfect way of treating the imbalances of all the three doshas namely vata, pitta and kapha. Vata aggravation leads to ill-health especially when a person turns older. Practicing Pranayama on a regular basis helps in keeping the mind and body in control. The sufficient amount of oxygen taken in by the body assists in treating Vata imbalances where Air is the predominant energy. This helps in protecting the health of the heart and lungs while preventing the negative symptoms of aging like rheumatism, backache, loss of vitality, solidifying arteries, improper blood circulation, dry and wrinkled skin, listless diaphragm and much more.

Start practicing Pranayama in a clean, bug-free environment especially in the early hours of the day when the energy levels of your body and the nature are at its best. Using aromatic Ayurvedic essential oils with therapeutic values while doing Pranayama can help you serve your health conditions better as it instills a positive sensation while fostering your body to accept the inner power granted by the natural fragrance of these oils. I can sense a ray of hope everyday when I practice Pranayama with the everlasting company of my favorite spiritual oils for fragrance, yes Frankincense essential oil along with Bergamot essential oil. It’s your turn now.

Thought for the day:

Inhale and God approaches you.  Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you.  Exhale, and you approach God.  Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.                                -Krishnamacharya

Suggested Reading:

  1. Light on Pranayama: The Yogic Art of Breathing By B. K. S. Iyengar
  2. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha/2008 Fourth Revised Edition by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
  3. Moola Bandha: The Master Key by Swami Buddhananda
  4. Yoga & Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization by Dr. David Frawley

Reference Links:

  1. Pranayama by Wikipedia
  2. Pranayama, Yoga, and Ayurveda by California College of Ayurveda
  3. Normal Respiratory Rate and Ideal Breathing by NormalBreathing.com

The Exceptional Strategies of an Ayurvedic Treatment

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Ayurveda, with the astounding and influencing meaning ‘the knowledge for long life’ is an ancient traditional methodology of aboriginal medicine in India. The entire wisdom of this spiritual healing system makes me awestruck and wonder about the stupendous knowledge of Rishis and Ayurvedic Practitioners who lived in the historical and primordial times, when even electricity was not known to the world and people lived in complete harmony with nature and invented numerous natural medications that heal humanity even during this technocratic eon. The incomparable strategies of an Ayurvedic treatment make Ayurveda unique as aims at guiding mankind through the right path in physical, mental, social, spiritual and environmental terms. The 4 predominant goals of an Ayurvedic life will clearly depict that simplicity wins basically without any other external efforts.

Strategies of an Ayurvedic treatment: Ayurveda is often a simple, practical and common-sense science that robustly states that ‘Nature is the gift of the Creator bestowed on Mankind for prolific wellness. Following an Ayurvedic routine can never let you down and would make your life complete without any flaws. In Ayurvedic contexts, there are about 8 comprehensive strategies. They are:

  1. Circumvent the causative aspects (Nidana parivarjana): As the name suggests ‘Nidana’ stands for ‘the contributing factors’ and ‘Parivarjana’ means ‘to give up’. The prime approach of an Ayurvedic treatment is analyzing the root cause of the disease and it is yet another celebrated trait of this divine science. Ayurveda always focuses on eliminating the illness from the scratch after analyzing the constitution of an individual and his predominant doshas. It is being practiced and said that evading the causal or the contributory aspects of a disease is the best way to get rid of it and preventing the same in the future as well.
  2. Boost up the energy (Swabhaavoparma): It concentrates in enhancing the strength of the human body to fight against sickness. Ayurvedic experts generally suggest a full-fledged fasting, enough rest and the use of warm water to grant the essential vigor from within.
  3. Treating imbalances in the tissues (Chikitsa dhatu satmyartha): Disparity in the tissues is yet another major reason for sickness. When there is a balance between the 3 predominant doshas, the tissues will be functioning properly contributing to a healthy body. There are 7 major elements or tissues in the human body and in Ayurveda it is known as Sapta dhatus, improper functioning of any one of these tissues will end up in health disorders. Thus this strategy intends in bringing perfect balance in the tissues.
  4. Treatment that is hostile to ailment (Chikitsa rukpratikriya): Ayurvedic remedies are absolutely natural and are always on the warfront against the disease that has affected an individual. At the same time, the Ayurvedic Physician will prescribe only those Ayurvedic medications that would suit your individual body type after analyzing it during your first Ayurvedic consultation.
  5. Treating the health disorder at the preliminary phase (Chayaeva jayeddosha): Ayurveda trusts that the treatment or the remedial measure of an illness should always be started in the initial stage of the disease. This helps in preventing the other parts of the body from being affected from the severity of existing disorder, especially when the illness is an autoimmune disorder (Rheumatoid Arthritis) that mistakenly affects all the healthy tissues of the body.
  6. Agitating pathogenesis (Samprapti vighatana): Ayurvedic experts even before thousands of years have known the fact the pathogenesis is highly dangerous, being the mechanism by which the illness is actually caused. Inflammation, infection due to microbes, breakdown of tissues, malignancy etc, fall under pathogenetical illness. By disrupting pathogenesis, Ayurvedic treatment stops the harmful microbes or malignant elements to spread and destroy the entire body.
  7. Controlling the mind and body (Aatmanigraha, Satvavajaya): Keeping the mind and body in control is the best way to lead a harmonious life. Yoga, meditation, simple physical exercises, nutritious diet and Ayurvedic massage with Ayurvedic essential oils can enrich your senses, help you retain your shape, proffer absolute peace to the mind and contribute to your well-being.
  8. Treatment through similarity and dissimilarity (Saamanya and Vishesha Siddhantha): Most of the diseases are treated by following the principle of similarity and dissimilarity based upon the medicine, food, body and few other aspects.

Ayurveda is a mighty ocean that had been sailed successfully by numerous skilled Ayurvedic practitioners, Gurus and Vaidyas. Each of these strategies involves attention for the individual rather than the disease which leads the contemporary medical science end up in vain many a times.

Thought for the day:

From the bitterness of disease man learns the sweetness of health.                                                                                        -Catalan Proverb

Suggested Reading:

  1. Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume One: Fundamental Principles by Vasant Lad
  2. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice, 1e by Sebastian Pole LicOHM AyurHC
  3. Basic Principles of Ayurveda by Dr. V.B. Athavale

Reference Links:

  1. Pathogenesis by Wikipedia
  2. Strategic Marketing Model For Practice of Ayurvedic Medicine by International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
  3. Ayurveda by Indian Medicinal Plants

Ayurveda for Longevity

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Recognition and fame come with apparent glory and value, for which Ayurveda stands as the best exemplar. This ancient healing science has attained worldwide recognition because of its most glorious holistic healing methodology that makes one cohesive with nature. Most of them consider Ayurveda as the mother of all healing sciences since it soothes the mind, relaxes the psyche and makes us to self-realize the true value of ourselves, thus making life worth living. Bestowing humanity with infinite boons, this ancient medical science leads the path to ‘LONGEVITY‘, which is one of the prime crave of mankind.

Longevity – What Does It Mean??? : In the eye of a commoner, longevity simply means living a long life. But Ayurveda views it in a different aspect, as it precisely defines longevity as ‘ Slowing down the aging process with a well balanced mind, body and spirit without which one cannot taste the true essence of longevity that lies in purely enjoying a state of permanent peace and tranquility’.

Why Ayurveda for Longevity??? : In this fast moving world, irrespective of the nature of the problem, every individual is in search of a remedy that yields a very quick result at a rapid pace. It becomes so natural for one to even think about Ayurveda as a means to attain longevity. Even though enormous growth in today’s modern medical science may seem to increase the life expectancy of human beings, it fails to focus on the mental part of an individual that is teemed with stress, anxiety, depression and so on… thus losing peace, which is the main purpose of leading a long life. Nothing is worse like leading a long life without peace of mind!

Ayurveda plays a vital role in making one to taste the true spirit of a long life by bringing a balance between the mind, body and spirit of an individual thus helping one to experience the eternal solace of being one with nature.

Ayurveda provides a unique holistic individualized approach of healing based on the unique natural constitution of every individual, ‘Prakruti’. It increases the quality of life of every individual, which in turn leads to increased life expectancy.

Ayurvedic Regime for Longevity: Natural harmony is one single source of solution for all our woes. Ayurveda defines a pattern of procedures to safeguard and sustain natural harmony of every individual that is often impacted by physical, emotional and environmental factors. I’ve listed down ‘the trios’ of the heartening principles of Ayurveda that will help us to step-up elegantly in the ladder of life!!!

  • Panchakarma – Detoxify Your Body First! : Once human entity is stuck with natural imbalance, it gets loaded with toxins that target every single cell in our system. To rejuvenate the body and bring it back to its natural state, Ayurveda suggests Panchakarma, which is the process of detoxifying the human body, strengthening the immune system and restoring the constitutional balance of the doshas (Governing forces of the human entity).
  • Healthy Ayurvedic Routine for the long run: Today’s world of challenges has left people with less option to redefine themselves with some powerful holistic tools like Ayurveda. Ayurvedic routine comprises some simple yet most powerful day to day practices of everlasting outcome that will urge mankind to stick to it! ‘Following a healthy Ayurvedic diet that suits the individual’s unique constitution of psyche, an Ayurvedic lifestyle that comprises of stress-free physical exercises, mind nurturing practices like Yoga and Meditation, effective usage of Ayurvedic essential oils that best suits your needs , enjoying proper sleep, binding the mind with positive thoughts that cultivate self-awareness of who you are! And acting young to stay young’ are some of the secret ingredients of the scrumptious food called ‘Health and Longevity’.

These top 3 Ayurvedic regimes for health and longevity when followed with utter adherence and discipline will definitely degrade the ‘Markers of Aging’, most important of which are Stress and Improper Stress Handling and Cell Proliferation. Thus Ayurveda serves its sole purpose of leading mankind with its holistic approach of helping humanity to lead a quality life full of virtues, making you to feel younger from within by cutting down the numbers (Age) in a lustrous way!

Stick to the Ayurvedic command and discover the magic in you, which can transform every single speed breaker of your life into a stepping stone for success! Act Young and Stay Young!! Have a long Ayurvedic life!!!

Thought for the day:

Ayurveda is a sister philosophy to yoga. It is the science of life or longevity and it teaches about the power and the cycles of nature, as well as the elements.                                                                                    -By Christy Turlington

Suggested Reading:

  1. Ayurveda: Life, Health, and Longevity By Robert E. Svoboda B.A.M.S.
  2. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention, & Longevity By Swami Sadashiva Tirtha
  3. Health Rejuvenation and Longevity Through Ayurveda By C.M. Ghai

Reference Links:

  1. Rasayan – The Ayurvedic Perspective by Mishra RN
  2. An Introduction To Panchakarma by Vasant Lad
  3. Ayurveda’s Longevity Secrets by Gerald Lopez