Pranayama is the practice of breath control, and it plays a crucial role in yoga for enhancing one’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. “Adham” is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as “inferior” or “low,” and it refers to the lower regions of the body, often associated with the abdomen. Therefore, “Adham Pranayama” translates to “Inferior Breath Control” or “Low Breath Control.”
In Adham Pranayama, the emphasis is on deep, diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing. The practice involves directing the breath into the lower part of the lungs and engaging the diaphragm, as opposed to shallow breathing, which primarily involves the upper chest.
Adham Pranayama, with its emphasis on diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing, is closely related to the stimulation and activation of the Manipura Chakra, which is the third chakra in the traditional system of yoga. Additionally, the practice of Adham Pranayama is believed to have an impact on the circulation of prana, or life energy, within the body. By activating the Manipura Chakra through Adham Pranayama, practitioners aim to balance and strengthen their self-confidence, willpower, and ability to initiate change and transformation in their lives.
Circulation of Prana
In yogic philosophy, prana is considered the life force or vital energy that animates all living things. It flows throughout the body, and its balanced and harmonious circulation is essential for overall health and well-being. Adham Pranayama, as a form of pranayama, is believed to enhance the flow of prana within the body. By practicing this type of deep breathing, individuals aim to optimize the intake and distribution of prana, especially in the region associated with the Manipura Chakra. The enhanced circulation of prana through Adham Pranayama can contribute to physical and mental vitality, as well as spiritual growth and awakening.
Posture: Begin by sitting in a comfortable and upright posture, such as Sukhasana (easy pose) or Padmasana (lotus pose), or you can also practice it while lying down.
Awareness: Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Observe your natural breath without attempting to change it at first.
Inhalation: As you begin, inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. The inhalation should be controlled and extended, allowing the abdomen to expand as you fill the lower part of your lungs with air. This is often referred to as diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing.
Exhalation: Exhale slowly and completely through your nose or mouth, allowing the abdomen to contract as you expel the breath. The exhalation should be controlled and extended as well.
It is highly recommended to use visualization during the Adham pranayama. The followings are instances of different visualization techniques:
- Golden Light Visualization: As you inhale, envision a golden or warm, healing light entering your body through your nose and filling your abdomen. This light symbolizes vitality, healing, and positive energy. As you exhale, imagine any stress, tension, or negativity leaving your body as a dark cloud.
- Ocean Waves Visualization: Picture your breath as gentle ocean waves. As you inhale, imagine the waves rolling into the shore, reaching your abdomen. When you exhale, see the waves receding, taking away any worries or tension with them. This visualization can evoke a sense of calm and serenity.
- Root Visualization: Visualize roots extending from your abdomen into the earth. As you inhale, imagine drawing nourishment and stability from the earth through these roots. When you exhale, release any stagnant or negative energy into the earth, where it is transmuted and recycled.
Rhythmic Breath: Establish a steady and rhythmic pattern of breath. You can use a specific count for inhalation, retention, and exhalation, such as inhaling for a count of four, holding for a count of four, and exhaling for a count of six. You can adjust these counts based on your comfort and capacity.
Relaxation: Ensure that your shoulders, neck, and facial muscles remain relaxed during the practice. The focus is on the gentle expansion and contraction of the abdomen.
Mental Focus: As you continue practicing Adham Pranayama, you can incorporate a mental focus, mantra, or positive affirmation to deepen your concentration and spiritual connection.
Duration: Start with a practice duration that is comfortable for you, typically 5-10 minutes, and gradually increase it as you become more experienced.
Benefits of Adham Pranayama
Here are some of the advantages of practicing Adham Pranayama:
- Improved Respiratory Function: Adham Pranayama enhances lung capacity and oxygen exchange in the lower part of the lungs, leading to more efficient breathing.
- Stress Reduction: The practice triggers the relaxation response, reducing stress and anxiety. It lowers the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol, promoting a sense of calm and well-being.
- Lowered Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: Regular practice can help lower heart rate and blood pressure, reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues.
- Enhanced Oxygenation: Abdominal breathing increases oxygen supply to the body, improving energy levels and overall vitality.
- Better Digestion: It can improve digestion by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digest functions.
- Pain Management: Abdominal breathing can be used as a complementary technique to manage pain, both chronic and acute, by promoting relaxation and reducing muscle tension.
- Improved Sleep: It can help alleviate sleep disorders and improve the quality of sleep by calming the mind and reducing anxiety.
Mental and Emotional Benefits:
- Emotional Balance: The practice helps regulate emotions, reduce mood swings, and cultivate a more positive outlook on life.
- Enhanced Concentration: Adham Pranayama enhances focus and mental clarity by calming the mind. It can be a helpful tool for meditation and introspection.
- Stress Resilience: It builds resilience to life’s challenges by teaching you how to respond to stressors with a composed and balanced mind.
- Mindfulness: It encourages mindfulness, allowing you to be fully present in the moment, increasing self-awareness and understanding.
- Stress Management: Adham Pranayama is a valuable tool for managing daily stress and promoting overall well-being.
- Spiritual Connection: For those seeking a spiritual dimension to their practice, Adham Pranayama can be a tool to deepen their connection to their inner self and the universe.
- Energy Flow: In yogic and spiritual traditions, it’s believed that the breath carries prana, or life energy. Adham Pranayama can enhance the flow of this vital energy throughout the body.