Pranayama – Western & Indian Concept: What are The Differences?


Pranayama – Western & Indian Concept: What are The Differences?

Western vs. Indian pranayama, same story, different versions. If you think you will find the same pranayama practices in America that you will find in India, you are wrong. The west is very different from pranayama in India. Even though they have the same benefits, the experiences are different. Pranayama in India is peaceful, quiet, and much longer. Here are some differences you cannot ignore. Each has its benefits and cons. There is a reason why most people choose India, Rishikesh to be precise to come and try pranayama.

The differences between east and west pranayama
The name

Did you know that Americans call Pranayama Cardiac Coherence Breathing? Now you know. According to CNN, Indians are upset by this change of names and claim that the Cardiac Coherence Breathing is the same as Pranayama, only that American scientists have rebranded it.

According to an article by a Scientific American, pranayama, which originates from yoga is “The first doctrine to build a theory around respiratory control, holding that controlled breathing was a way to increase longevity.” So when you hear about Cardiac Coherence breathing techniques in America, it’s not a new practice, but the Pranayama practice in India.

In India pranayama is more than just an exercise

In the west, pranayama in mainly about the exercise, in fact, the whole yoga practice in the west is one part of a lifestyle. However, in India, pranayama is about life and living. The differences are clear. Even though American believe that Cardiac Coherence promotes relaxation by focusing on breathing, Indians believe that it does much more than that.

There are other benefits of pranayama training that you receive in both the Indian and western pranayama concept, but both are done very differently in both countries. In Indian, pranayama is a way of living. It not only teaches you how to breathe and control your breath but also how to gain self-control and build your power of concentration.

The different style

Indian is known for its different pranayama styles, which sometimes are not widely defined in the west. For example, you will enjoy pranayama breathing styles like NadiShodhan or alternate Nostril breathing or Bharamari, Bhastrika, AnulomVilom, and Bahya Pranayama in Indian. Some of these styles are not available in the west. And even if they are there, sometimes you don’t enjoy its benefits fully.

You learn how to still your mind using the breath

Pranayama training in India teaches more than in the west. Being the birthplace of yoga and pranayama techniques, all the pranayama styles in India are mindful and help you still your mind. Pranayama can change your life andhelp your learn how to be non-reactive to emotions like possessiveness, anger, sadness, and other similar emotions. Pranayama here as the same effect as yoga. You can share this with your future students.

Lifelong learning

People in the west think pranayama is like a workout session or going to the gym. In Indian culture, you learn from the teacher. It is lifelong learning. You are taught the practice, over the years. It is something you continue learning for the rest of your life and not just for a few weeks and months. Yes, you can go for a few weeks’ retreats and classes, but in India, the practices never end. You keep learning new things for the rest of your life.

There you have it, the difference between pranayama teaching techniques in the west and Indian. Whether you intend to use pranayama to enhance your well-being and want to start a practice, or you want to understand it more and to develop yourself, it is always good to know the difference.


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