According to Svatmarama Yogindra, author of Hatha Yoga Pradipika, there are eight types of Pranayamas.
Kumbhakam is an important part of the Pranayama. Retaining the inhaled air is known as Antar Kumbhakam and retaining the exhaled air is known as Bahya Kumbhakam.
The adepts in Yoga say that the nervous system can be damaged or can cause mental disorders or incurable diseases if one practices Kumbhaka Pranayama without observing the celibacy.
sūrya bhēdana mujjāyī sītkārī sītalī tathā bhastrikā bhrāmarī mūrcā plāvinī aṣṭa kuṁbhakā
The above sloka is mentioned by Svatmarama Yogindra in a chapter on Pranayama in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The eight types of Pranayamas are:
Apart from these, the ninth type of Pranayama known as Bhujagikaranam is mentioned in Hatha Ratnavali. This Pranayama is like the hissing of a snake.
There are distinct advantages for each type of Pranayama.
Surya Bhedana causes heat in the body. Yogis use this technique to survive in the Himalayas.
Ujjayi increases the power of the lungs. This is very useful to people suffering with Asthma, Eosinophilia etc. This technique is also widely used in Martial arts. The technique ‘Sanchin’ used in Karate and Kung-Fu is the same as Ujjayi.
Sitkari, Shitali bring down the body temperature. This provides great relief when used in hot summer or impacted by a sunstroke, or when feeling thirsty.
Bhramari is helpful in Nada Yoga Sadhana. This is also used in Kriya Yoga. It turns the mind inwards.
Murcha blacks out the mind. It causes a state of Samadhi and the individual goes into deep trance.
A person can float on water with the Plavini Pranayama.
Bhujagikaranam increases the pranic energy and awakens the Kundalini.
There are numerous benefits with Bhastrika Pranayama.
To practice these Pranayamas, one must have the time, control over food, must observe celibacy and must have the guidance and supervision of a Guru. If one practices the techniques as shown in the Television without following the above rules, he is likely to suffer with incurable diseases or can even become insane. Be careful in practicing these Pranayamas.
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