Pranayama is, rightly, always connected to breathing and, not for nothing, translated as " breath control ".
Yet, despite what all the yoga mat masters say, the major authorities on the subject, or guru at Vivekananda, tell us that it is not a question of controlling the breath but the prana, or the energy behind it the breath itself and the movement of the lungs.
In fact, breathing is the most superficial effect, linked to physical air, of the movement of prana in us. Prana is the subtle vital energy, therefore not material and non-breathable, which circulates throughout the universe and which allows matter to become active and living.
So we could say that controlling prana controls breathing and not vice versa, as often explained too hastily in hatha yoga courses for Westerners.
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9 benefits of pranayama
The true pranayama is therefore linked to universal life, and for this reason it can bring extreme longevity and those phantom powers of the yogic tradition called siddhi . The fact remains that even pranayama as a breath control, as practiced by the masses today, has numerous benefits, some of which are truly significant .
Many of these benefits go beyond the purely physical sphere : besides influencing the body, pranayama also has many positive effects on the consciousness .
In fact, Ayurveda tells us that breathing is the physical aspect of thinking and that thinking is the psychological aspect of breathing.
- First of all, pranayama has an effect on stress-related disorders . Learning pranayama exercises and using them at critical moments is often a very effective remedy against stress and prevents the loss of a lot of nervous energy .
- Enhances the automatic functions of the body . Our conscience is not the master of all physical functions. During the act of eating, for example, our awareness ends once the mouthful is swallowed, then we are not masters of what happens inside the stomach. Most vital functions are automatic and pranayama has immense beneficial power over them.
- In the case of asthma, the efficacy of pranayama has been demonstrated, both at times of peak disturbance and as a practice during breaks between attacks. This goes hand in hand with what was written before about the automatic functions of the body, since the mechanics that produce asthma are (or rather they would be) not controllable.
- A controlled and relaxed breathing, like that of pranayama, helps reduce oxidative stresses in the body and thus prolong the life of the cells. This confirms what was written in the ancient yogic texts on the relationship between pranayama and longevity .
- Psychological tests have confirmed that a daily and constant practice of pranayama helps to have a calm and steady mind, to improve one's focus, to nurture one's willpower and to strengthen the capacity for a healthy judgment, that is not hasty.
- There is much evidence of the benefits of pranayama at cardiorespiratory level . The heart strengthens and improves its ability to work under stress. In particular, pranayama helps keep blood pressure low, thus reducing the risk of hypertension .
- Almost obvious benefits for the respiratory system and lungs . By practicing pranayama one discovers that one can breathe much more deeply, using that lower part of the lungs that is generally not used, managing to also fill the abdomen.
- One of the most obvious and important benefits is the improvement of the generic conditions of the entire immune system, also given by a sort of detox effect . Those who practice pranayama regularly are less prone to fevers, flu, colds, and energy dips.
- We close this series of benefits of pranayama with a very important positive effect for the psyche. Many studies show that, by increasing calm and concentration and reducing stress, pranayama would have a remarkable effectiveness even in combating some cases of depression.
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