Just for Women
Home      |      Editor’s Note      |      Events      |      Careers      |      About Us      |      Contact Us      |      Sign In with Jfw      |      Gallery
Fitness > The Breath of Life
Back to previous page

Pranayama, which is the combination of Prana and Ayama in Sanskrit, signifies the control and the extension of the breath or life energy. If done regularly, breathing exercises can help you to stay ailment free, writes Krupa Shah

“In today’s competitive world either you can learn to multitask, or you can learn how to de-stress and carry on,” says Dr. (A.M) Sukanya, founder of The Indian School of Breathing. The thirties are the years of maximum stress as women undergo a lot of changes. Stress during these times results most often in gland oriented problems like PCOD (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), hormonal imbalances, irregular menstruation, breast cancer and migraine. The different kinds of Pranayama are effective ways to cope with these and also enhance productivity by increasing lung capacity and blood circulation to the brain.

Kapalabhati Pranayama
Kapalabhati, as the name suggests in Sanskrit, is the Pranayama that is said to make the forehead or the skin glow. It mimics the rapid contraction and expansion of abdominal muscles experienced in wholehearted laughter and consists of repeatedly exhaling forcefully from the stomach. “This activity accesses unused portions of the brain, enhances memory, comprehension and concentration,” explains Dr (A.M) Sukanya. Advisable on empty stomach, Pranayama is best done after a gap of 5 hours after a full meal at 20 to 30 strokes a minute for 10 to 15 minutes every day. While pregnant women should avoid this activity, Kapalabhati is known to benefit infertility by opening up blocked fallopian tubes. Other benefits also include weight loss and clearing wrinkles.

Anulom Vilom
In this kind of Pranayama, one breathes in from the left nostril, blocking the right nostril with the thumb then exhales from the right nostril, blocking the left with the middle and ring fingers. The breathing is alternated to form repetitive cycles. This Pranayama is effective for detoxifying and de-stressing the body and also balances the body’s three doshas. Anulom Vilom also relieves conditions like sinus, respiratory problems and asthma. While it can be performed for around 15 minutes with rest after every 5 minutes, pregnant women are advised against it.

In order to cope with external situations and improve resilience especially for women as they have a higher emotional quotient, the Bhramari or the humming bee Pranayama is advised. “Breathing exercises help women when it comes to blood pressure, pancreas problems and infertility,” points out Dr (A.M) Sukanya. Use both the index fingers to close the ears and make a sound like OM while breathing out. Om chanting is known to provide tranquillity to the mind.

“Meditation works from the mind to the glands, organs, muscles, tissues and bones to the skin. There are lots of chances to introspect, encountering your own self,” says Dr (A.M) Sukanya, who has also done Vipasana meditation. There are various meditation techniques including team meditation, dance, whirling, Kundalini, chakra and Om meditation. Dance meditation, known to be beneficial for expectant mothers involves movements with music and letting the body flow with the rhythm while the foetus absorbs these vibrations. This is the same principle behind talking to the foetus in the mother’s belly in order to mould it into a beautiful being. The CALM program (care, accept, love, meditate) of The Indian School of Breathing is another method devised to help people balance out the conflicting needs to suppress and to express in various situations.

Asanas for women
“Women are the energy generators in the family. If a woman is passive and negative it affects the children and the husband. Stress in women results most often as gland problems which is why yoga should be a part of the routine. The weak points in a woman’s body are the hips and the thalamus. These are the lazy muscles. To stimulate the thalamus region we have Pranayama while the stretching and contracting yoga is beneficial for the hips,” points our Dr (A.M) Sukanya and mentions a few Asanas beneficial for women.

It is the sitting and forward bending asana. For most animals, the spine is horizontal to the ground and the heart is below it. But for human beings the spine is vertical and the heart is not in a lower position to it. This arrangement has made us more prone to fatigue and heart disease. In Paschimottanasana, the spine is aligned horizontally, making the heart staying lower, under it. This gives a nice massage to the heart, spine and abdominal organs, toning and strengthening them.

Lie down on your back and lift your torso keeping the knees bent and palms facing down. This asana strengthens the back muscles and helps to improve digestion. It calms the brain, reducing anxiety, stress and depression and also relieves symptoms of menopause and menstrual pain. It is also beneficial for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and sinusitis.

Side stretching
This simple exercise if done correctly realigns the spinal column, stretches the intercostal muscles (between the ribs) and the thoracic cage aiding the lungs to take in more oxygen. It stimulates the digestive tract by stretching the abdominal muscles and waist.

Surya Namaskar
Known to provide holistic wellbeing, Surya Namaskar is also extremely beneficial for women who face back problems as stress and fatigue are known to accumulate there. For a beginner, six rounds with the right leg and six with the left on a daily basis provide the toning required for the body.

In recent social trends of career driven ambition and competitiveness, achievements are often got at the expense of the body and the mind. With lifestyle diseases and syndromes like PCOD and becoming an increasingly common occurrence among younger women, breathing exercises if made part of a regular routine can help in contributing wellbeing and a better quality of life.

During fever left nostril breathing is cooling and aids the fever to subside. If you are feeling thirsty and there is no water available, breathe in through the mouth and breathe out through the nostril. This activates the salivary glands and reduces the thirst for another 2 or 3 hours.

The best time for Pranayama is called the Brahmamuhurta. These are the hours from 4:30 AM to 6 AM. Pranayama should not be done from 12-4 PM as these are the hours there is food in your stomach.
Dr. (A.M) Sukanya, Founder of the Indian School of Breathing, is an alternative medicine specialist with a wide experience in apeotherapy, flower remedies and syncropathy, which determines the kind of medicine (allopathy, homeopathy etc.) that suits an individual according to his constitution. She has also categorized different kinds of yoga for individual requirement such as Hatha yoga for breathing, Ashtanga yoga for ligament or muscles, Yin for the mind etc.
Go to Top
Current Magazine
Current Magazine
Share your cherished memories, inspiring experiences, short fiction or your favourite recipes with our readers.
Write In