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Puraka in Yoga – Controlled Inhalation In Pranayama

Puraka is the controlled inhalation during Pranayama and is an important breathing exercise in Yoga. A respiratory act in Pranayama consists of puraka (inhalation), recaka (exhalation) and kumbhaka (a pause or suspending the breath). All these three stages form part of a round of pranayama in Yoga.

The duration of these three acts is increased in a controlled manner.

A controlled inhalation in pranayama is called puraka.

The word purana means the act of filling. For instance, filling a pot with water is called purana. Similarly, filling of the lungs with air is also called purana. Puraka is derived from purana.

Three Important Characteristics Of Puraka

  1. It is always done in a uniform manner. The inward flow of air is kept constant throughout without ups and downs. The movement of air is not made slow or fast in the middle, and the force with which air enters the lungs is kept constant.
  2. The act is continued to its completion, filling the lungs completely and not partially. Every time, the full capacity of the lung tissue to expand is utilized.
  3. The act of puraka is always slow and smooth, there being no jerks or extra force.
Thus, a puraka is a slow, uniform, and complete act of inhalation.

In different varieties of pranayama, use is made of one nostril or both the nostrils or even the mouth for doing puraka.

If the abdominal wall is slightly held tight and not allowed to come forward during puraka, then one can draw in a greater quantity of air, because the ribs can be elevated to their fullest extent. Otherwise, they may be pulled down slightly by the sagging abdominal viscera.

Yoga : An Introductory Course (1978) Kovuru Balaiyah - Sri Aurobindo Center Secunderabad
The Manual of Yoga (1961) Desmond Dunne - W Foulsham and Co London
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VIII page 321 - 22 - IHRF