Importance of Mudras in Pranayam


Pranayama and its facts :

Importance of mudras in pranayam-

        Mudras have much importance in pranayam. All mudras are present in pranayam. If a person does the practice of pranayam by sitting in the position of mudras, he gets special benefits from the mudras. There are eight parts of yogasan and pranayam comes on fourth position among these. In yoga sadhana, the practice of pranayam is done after the practice of asana. After pranayam, the practice of pratyahara, dharana, meditation and Samadhi is done.

What is the aim of yoga?

        Getting physical and mental purification is the main aim of yoga. It makes free to the soul from the grip of body and mind and the soul gets supreme pleasure. The soul makes the mind stable and forwards in the direction of spiritual thoughts. Pure thoughts take birth in the mind by yoga. Physical activity remains normal by the practice of asana and mental activity works properly by the pratyhara dharana. But, ‘pranayam’ is the sadhana between asana and pratayhara sadhanas.

        The practice of pranayam provides mental and physical benefits to a person. The practice of pranayam purifies the body and mind. Mudras affect both our body and mind by which the body becomes healthy and good thoughts take birth in the mind. So, pranayam has special importance in mudras. Yogis of ancient time were affected very much from the benefits of pranayam. They considered that pranayam as important thing for keeping the body and mind healthy.

        In the modern time, scholars of yoga shastras have described, mental disorders, which affect the mind and thoughts, as sensual pleasure (lust), anger, attraction, greed, passion, jealousy, hate, mourn, successive etc. All these desires take birth in that place of the mind where consciousness and knowledge originate. The practice of pranayam controls web of nerves of the brain of human being by which bodily and mentally activities get affected. This is the reason that pranayam has special importance in both mental and physical activities.

        In patanjali yogashastras, it has been described while telling about pranayam that stopping breath by sitting in the position of asana is called pranayam. The practice of pranayam is done before the mudras. Therefore, getting information about mudras is very essential.

        The word ‘pranayam’ is made of two words of Sanskrit- ‘praan + aayam’. ‘Praan’ means consciousness in the human being by which the creature lives alive. Aayama means development by which there is a system of development and control in the creature. Therefore, pranayam means controlling the vitality power after keeping it in consciousness.

        Air (oxygen) has special place for living alive. Our body can live for sometime without food and water but any creature cannot live without air (oxygen). All the creatures and insects keep on breathing activity (inhaling and exhaling) even in sleep. Consciousness of the creature ends due to stopping breath and the creature dies.

        Pranayam increases breathing activities. The creature takes breath naturally, which keeps the consciousness of vitality power alive and the creature lives alive. But, the creature is not able in developing that vitality power and destroys consciousness of vitality power because of taking breath hurriedly or taking half breath. The breath should not be taken through the mouth because taking breath through mouth is harmful for both body and mind.

        Many searches related to yoga science have been done by the scholars and saints to make the life bright, pure and progressive. Pranayam is one research of them. Scientists of modern time accept these things that developing vitality power (vitality air) is necessary and there is no other technique for the development of this vital power except inhaling and exhaling. But, every person does not have real technique of taking breath (inhaling and exhaling). They don’t know how to take breath for developing vitality power. Taking breathing properly and in beneficial way is called pranayam.

        This activity of pranayam is called breathing activity. There are two kinds of breathing activity, which are called internal breath and external breath. In the external breath, breath is taken inside the body and in the internal breath, internal breath is excluded out (exhale) from the body. Besides it, there is also another kind of breathing activity, which is called ‘kumbhak’. Stopping the breath inside and outside is called Kumbhak. In yoga, these three activities of Pranayam are called rechak, purak and kumbhak. Inhaling external air (oxygen) in the body and having inside the body stops the normal speed of breathing.

        After that, the breathing speed gets stopped by exhale inside breath out. But, filling the air (oxygen) after taking breath again completes the need of vital air (oxygen). In pranayam, there is a lack of vitality air in the practice of kumbhak viz inhaling and exhaling because in this process of pranayam, the breath is stopped inside the body by inhaling breath and then the breath is stopped outside the body by exhaling it out of the body. three techniques of pranayam, a person should do the practice of rechak, purak kumbhak activities when he gets success in the practice of asana properly.  

Rechak (exhaling)-

        In this activity, internal air is exhaled outside and the normal speed of breathing is stopped. This activity is called Rechak Pranayam.

Purak (inhaling)-

  • In this activity, the normal speed of breathing is stopped after taking air (oxygen). It is called Purak Pranayam.
  • Kumbhak (stopping breath inside or outside)-
  • The breath is stopped after inhaling or exhaling in this activity. This activity is called kumbhak pranayam.
  • There are two kinds of kumbhak as external kumbhak and internal kumbhak.

Internal kumbhak-

        When breath is stopped according to the capacity after taking, it is called internal kumbhak.

External kumbhak-

        When the person exhales internal air and stops the breath according to the capacity, it is called external kumbhak.  

      All these activities of pranayam are done repeatedly by which there is control over breath and the vitality air or power gets developed properly. Many types of techniques of pranayam have been described in the yoga shastra. But, some normal techniques of pranayam are being described first and after getting success in these, sine hard techniques have been described for getting complete sidhdi in pranayam.

        Last four techniques of pranayam are difficult and all people are not able in doing these activities. These techniques of pranayam are used by yogis and if any other person wants do these activities, he can do these in the supervision of any yoga teacher. Thirteen activities of the practice of pranayam have been described as saral, saveda, sahita, atirikta, nari sadhan, sheetkari, sheetali, bhramari, ujjayi pranayama, bhaishtrika, suryabhedan, murcha, plavini etc.

        Bandhs have great importance in the practice of pranayam. Sit in padma asana and close eyes while making khechari mudra and then do the practice of pranayam. The head, neck and chest are kept straight. The practice of ‘moolbandh’ should remain from the beginning to the end and do the practice of three pranayam viz Rechak, Purak and Kumbhak etc. pranayam. Rechak viz come in the position of Uddiyana Bandh after excluding breath and keep the stomach in the contact of back and remain in Uddiyan Bandha while taking breath inside (purak) and excluding breath (kumbhak). Keep the stomach stretched inside in Uddiyan Bandha.

        Do the practice of ‘Jalandhra Bandh’ during the activity of kumbhak and stop breath according to the capacity. Exhale while opening the jalandhara bandh. ‘Jalandhara bandh’ is very beneficial for pranayam. There is a fear of harm if a little carelessness is shown in this activity. The person, who does the practice, becomes habitual of bending the neck. Therefore, according to Rajayoga, it is not much beneficial for the practice of jalandhara bandh. Kumbhak can be done without the practice of jalandhara bandh or by closing both the nostrils with the help of fingers.

Importance of fingers in the practice of pranayam-

        Fingers are very important in the practice of pranayam. Fingers are needed for closing both the nostrils. When the breath is taken from the left nostril in the pranayam, right nostril of nose is closed with the help of right thumb. After taking breath, at the time of kumbhak, both the nostrils of nose are closed by the help of thumb and fingers of right hand.

        After that, breath is stopped according to the capacity.  Now exhale by opening the right nostril (do rechak). Thereafter, do the practice of kumbhak and both the nostrils of the nose are closed. After staying in this position according to capacity, open to the right nostril of the nose and take breath and close the right nostril and do the practice of kumbhak. If there is no jalandhara bandh, close only left nostril with the help of right hand instead of closing both the nostrils.

        Fingers are removed from both the nostrils and breath is taken through the right nostril in this condition. After that, stop breath inside according to the capacity. Now exhale through the left nostril and stop breath out according to the capacity. After that, take breath and repeat the first activity.

        In this activity of pranayam, first, both the nostrils of the nose are closed by the hands. But, one becomes habitual of stopping breath with closing nostrils without fingers help. If someone does the practice of jalandhara bandh in kumbhak, there is no need to close the fingers with the help of fingers. Thus, one will become habitual of closing and opening nostrils by doing practice sequentially.