The popular Hindi idiom “garv se chati phul jana’ has both literal as well as figurative connotations. Figuratively, it signifies a ‘victory over the strains and tribulations of life’. Literally, it means expanding or bulging your chest up to the maximum during inhalation.
The term Pranayma consists of prana + ayama i.e. ‘lengthening of your vital energy’. Lengthening and enhancing the inhalation and exhalation process, in the right proportion, is definitely way to attain the aforementioned objective. What makes pranayama truly meaningful, however, is the ‘pause’ between the inhalation and the exhalation. Longer the ‘pause’, deeper you get into the ‘meditative realm’. In the yogic world, this ‘pause’ is referred to as ‘holding’ or ‘retaining’ of breath. My blog ‘Criticality of ‘Retaining’ vs ‘Holding’ of Breath in Pranayama’ is a great eye opener and an important awareness which has enhanced my own as well as my students’ understanding and performance of Pranayama using ‘Retention’ instead of ‘Holding’.
This blog focuses on ‘how this retention can be extended in the most meditative manner’. One of the best methods is ‘puffing the chest to its fullest.’ Your chest should start swelling up like a balloon as you start the bulging process with inhalation. Half way through your inhalation, the expanded chest should be lifted up to the maximum towards the chin. You should physically feel the lifting effect. By doing so, the experience will be liberating as well as exhilarating. And, you would have achieved ‘victory’ over all the lingering stress.
- It keeps your throat automatically free of all the tension which is a common problem among practitioners. This tension, most probably, transforms ‘Pranayama’ into a stressful experience.
- It elevates your body and mind to a sublime aura like state wherein you feel completely relaxed.
The resultant factor is ‘glimpsing the glorious magnificence of meditation’.
Note: The ‘chest’ or ‘thoracic’ expansion that I am talking about is a sublet of ‘Yogic Breathing’ in which your abdomen, chest and collar bone together is working as one unit. During this ‘Yogic Breathing’, you apply the ‘puffing method’ to your thoracic / chest breathing during the inhalation process.
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Shammi Gupta, founder of Shammi’s Yogalaya holds an MA in Yoga Shastra, is a certified Yogic Therapist and Naturopath, has completed an Advanced Yoga Course and holds a Diploma in Yoga Education from Mumbai University. She is a certified trainer from American College of Sports Medicine and holds an MBA in HR & MBA in Finance from The University of Akron, Ohio, USA. She conducts Health Awareness Workshops for Corporate, Yogasana Workshops for Athletes and Yoga Therapy Workshops on different medical issues for patients. Among the celebrities Shammi trains are eminent personalities from the film and television industry and corporate world.