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April 27, 2015
Pranayama is the science of proper breathing. Breath is the main source of nourishment for all the cells of the body. We can live without food for weeks, without water for days, but without oxygen for only a few minutes. The average person uses less than half of his total lung capacity. By re-educating the breathing process and learning how to increase lung capacity with deep abdominal breathing and specific pranayama practices, the yoga practitioner can increase the flow of vital energy to different organs in the body, build an immunity to disease, overcome many physical ailments, release tensions and develop a relaxed state of mind.
The way one breathes also has a profound effect on the nervous system. Brain cells use three times more oxygen than other body cells. By regulating the breath and increasing oxygenation to brain cells, both the voluntary and autonomic nervous systems are strengthened and revitalized. When practiced consistently, pranayama improves mental clarity, alertness, and physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
To get the maximum benefits of yoga, one has to combine the practices of yoga asanas, pranayama, and meditation. Asana literally means "posture or pose." It is a particular posture of the body, which is both steady and comfortable. There are more than a hundred poses with as many variations that can be divided into two categories: active and passive. Active poses tone specific muscle and nerve groups, benefit organs and endocrine glands, and activate brain cells. The passive poses are used primarily in meditation, relaxation, and pranayama practices.
As we learned in our Yoga teacher training courses, a complete therapeutic set of yoga asanas covers the entire human anatomy from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. Regular yoga practice helps to correct postural irregularities, and to maintain the entire body in the best possible condition. Almost all asanas directly or indirectly affect the spinal cord and nervous system, and the digestive system.
The nervous system is responsible for a healthy brain and the continuous activities of the body; the digestive system is responsible for the proper digestion of food to maintain a healthy body. If both systems are perfectly healthy, it greatly supports and encourages the performance of the remaining bodily systems. Through yoga practice, problems such as stress, tension, tiredness, worries and headaches disappear and one can enjoy complete relaxation and full joy in life.
Hari Om Tat Sat
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