Pranayama – Breathing Techniques for healthy lifestyle


Pranayama means ‘science of breathing’. It is essential for the integrity of the brain, nerves, glands and internal organs. pranayama yoga has been reported to be beneficial in treating a range of stress related disorders, improving autonomic functions, relieving symptoms of asthma, stuttering and reducing signs of oxidative stress.
Some major types of pranayama are as follows:

Kapal meaning ‘skull’ (here skull includes all the organs in and under the skull too) and Bhati meaning ‘shining, illuminating.’

Steps for Kapalabhati Pranayama
1.Perform two to three deep inhales and exhales.
2.Now inhale deeply and exhale forcefully drawing all the air out. Your belly should be drawn in, as you exhale.
3.When you inhale, let it happen passively without you making any effort to inhale as the belly goes back to normal position.
4.Exhale forcefully again and continue doing this for about 20 to 30 times.


It helps clear out blocked energy channels in the body, which in turn calms the mind.

Steps for Nadi Sodhana
1.Sit down in a comfortable place assuming a cross legged position. Now use your thumb (right hand) to close the right side of your nose. Inhale deeply using the left nostril.
2.Now close the left nostril and exhale using the right one.
3.In the same way, now with the left nostril still closed, inhale using the right nostril and exhale with the left one
4.You can continue doing this exercise for around 10-15 times.

Shitali Means cool, and this pranayama technique will help you achieve the same.

Steps for Shitali Pranayama
1.To perform shitali pranayama, be seated in a comfortable position. Cross your legs and take five to six deep breaths to get yourself prepared.
2.Now open your mouth in a “o” shape and start to inhale through the mouth. When you exhale, do so with your nose.
3.This should be repeated five to ten times.

Ujjayi means the ocean and this pranayama is about mimicking the oceanic sound or the sound of the waves.

Steps for Ujjayi Pranayama
1.To do this, be seated in a comfortable position crossing your legs. Now start to inhale and exhale deeply using your mouth.
2.While doing this, constrict your throat as if something is choaking it when you exhale and inhale the air. This will produce a sound similar to the ocean when you breath.
3.Now close your mouth and start to breath using your nose, but maintain the same tone to your throat so you still continue to make the same sound as your breath.
4.You can repeat this prayanama breathing exercise for about ten to fifteen times.

Dirga pranayam is a bit different from other types as it involves lying down on your back instead of being in a seated position. This technique involves very deep inhalation and exhalation.

Steps for Dirga Pranayama
1.To perform this panayama, lie down on your back and close your eyes. Breath normally and then slowly take deep breaths, relaxing your body.
2.Now inhale a lot of air in slowly to fill your belly up. Your belly should rise up like a balloon. Hold this position for a few seconds and exhale drawing the belly inwards ensure there is no air left.
3.In the second step, inhale deeply to fill up the belly. Inhale a bit more to fill up air in your rib cage. When you exhale, exhale air from your rib cage and then from your belly.
4.In the third step, inhale deeply to fill up your belly and rib cage with air. Inhale a bit more to fill up your heart centre (area around the heart) with air. When you exhale, exhale air from the heart centre, then the rib cage and then the belly.
5.Repeat the whole process for five to six times.

Feel the stillness of the body and observe the flow of the breath.

Steps for Bhastrika Pranayama
1.Lift the hand to Pranayama Mudra.
2.Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale and exhale in rapid succession 20 times through the left nostril. The abdominal wall moves in and out like bellows. 3.With the 20th breath inhale and exhale deeply through the left nostril then change the nostril. Continue the bellows breath through the right nostril.
4.With the 20th breath inhale deeply and exhale slowly through the right nostril. Return the hand to the knee and repeat the exercise with both nostrils.
5.Relax for a short time breathing normally and then continue the next round beginning with the right nostril first. Alternate the left and right nostrils when beginning any further rounds of Bhastrika.

In this pranayama the breath is kept outside during the practice so it is called Bahya Pranayama. Bahya means “outside”. It should be done after Kapalbhati pranayama.

Steps for Bahya Pranayama
1.Sit in pose of Padmasana or Siddhasana.
2.Take a deep breath and exhale completely (breath out) to evacuate lungs as much as possible.
3.Hold your breath and touch your chin to the chest is called (Jalandhar Bandha or Throat lock). By pulling your stomach in and up under the rib cage such that the stomach and back seem to touch each other from inside. It is called (Uddiyana Bandha). Lift the muscle from groin area is called (Mulabandha or Root lock).
4.Hold this three bandhas for some time as much you can 10-15 seconds than breathe in deeply to release these three locks.
5.Practise Bahya pranayama for 2-5 minutes daily.

Bhramari Pranayama or the humming Bee Breath produces a sound similar to the humming of a bee.Bhramari comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Bramar’ which means a kind of black Indian bee. Bhramari pranayama has a soothing effect on the brain and calms the mind.

It is known as “Omkari Japa” means chanting of “Om”. Udgeeth pranayama is the simple breathing exercise. Should be practiced on a daily basis like other 6 recommended pranayama.

Steps for Udgeeth Pranayama
1.Sit in a suitably relaxed posture.
2.In this pranayama the duration of inhaling and exhaling should be long.
3.Inhale deeply and while exhaling chant ”Ommmmmmmmm” for a long time as much you can.
4.In all pranayama the breath plays an important role. So concentrate on your breath and feel the positive energy comes when you inhale and negative energy goes out while exhaling.
5.Repeat this for 5-10 minutes

Agnisar is the 4th step of pranayama package reintroduced by PP Swami Ramdev ji Maharaj. It is necessary part of pranayama along with other six types of pranayama i.e. Bhastrika, Kapalbhati, Bahya, Anulom-Vilom, Bhramri and Udgeeth.

Steps for Agnisar Kriya
1. Sit in Padmasana and keep the hands on the knees in a comfortable position. Close the eyes slightly and concentrate on the mind with normal breathing.
2. Exhale slow, deep and stable breathe. Stop the breathe outside, i.e., do Bahirmukh. Stretch both the hands straight and keep them on the knees with slight pressure. Contract and expand the stomach. Try to touch the navel deep inside the stomach.
3. Keep the stomach and hands normal before doing poorak i.e., inhale. Now take deep, stable and slow breathe.
4. This is one cycle of Agnisar pranayama. In one cycle contract and expand the stomach at least ten times. Increase the number to 30. In the beginning practice it for 5 times and then slowly increase is it up to 15 cycles. During winters you can practice it for 25 cycles. Breathe normally, rest for sometime and then do shavasana.

Practise Yoga & Stay Healthy.


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