How to do Pranayama - the art of Breath control

Hope the earlier post of  Suryanamaskar was helpful for many.
Continuing further on Yoga, this post is dedicated to Pranayama-the practice of breath control. The benefits and advantages of Pranayama are endless.

How to do different Pranayamas
There are various kinds of Pranayama techniques. Here i will discuss few of them. Couple of things to remember before you start practising this yogic practice.

Time: The best time for practice is early morning, preferably before sunrise when the pollution is at its lowest level. However, if morning is unsuitable, pranayama may be practiced after sunset, when the air is cool and pleasant.

Posture: For the practice of Pranayama, the most suitable and preferable postures are Padmasana, Vajrasana or any Meditative posture. If the preferred posture is not possible to practice, one can sit on a chair or bench keeping the spine erect, or even taking the support of a wall.

Pranayama should be performed preferably on empty stomach.

People suffering from any ailments should seek the guidance of an expert instructor before practising Pranayama.

1. Kapalbhati :
How to do Kapalbhati?
In this practice, the breath is short, rapid and strong. This technique is called passive inhalation, forceful exhalation.

To perform the kapalabhati, sit in a comfortable position as mentioned above.Take two to three deep inhales and exhales.

Now inhale
deeply and exhale forcefully drawing all the air out through your nose. Your belly should be drawn in, as you exhale.

Before the next cycle starts, you automatically inhale without any effort and your belly comes to normal position. Then forceful exhalation continues. Likewise the process goes on..
(Those trying to reduce their tummy, try this out. It really works!)

2. Anulama & Viloma :
How to do Anuloma-Viloma Pranayama
This technique is also called as alternate nostril breathing. Here inhalation and exhalation is done with one nostril at a time.

To start with, take two to three deep breaths. Close the right nostril with your right thumb, inhale through left nostril. While holding the breath, hold the right ring finger on the left nostril and exhale through right nostril.

Now with left nostril still closed, inhale through the right nostril( the same side you had exhaled previously). Now closing the right nostril, exhale through left nostril. One cycle is complete. Practice for at least 10 min, then increase the duration.

Note that there is no shoulder movement in this, only the belly goes completely inside when you exhale and bloats when you inhale.

3. Sheetali :
How to do Sheetali PranayamaAs the name suggests this technique brings about the cooling effect. It is generally done in summers or when there is a need to cool down the body because of excess heat and stress.

Start by taking few deep inhalations. Fold the tongue so as to form a long narrow tube resembling the beak of a bird. The passage is further narrowed by pressing the lips round the tongue.

Now inhale, making a hissing noise and perceive the cooling effect of the air as it passes through the tongue.

Close your mouth, hold the breath for couple of seconds, then exhale through both the nostrils.

4. Bhastrika : Sit comfortably in an erect spine position

Breathe in through both the nostrils forcefully till the lungs are full and diaphragm is stretched. Then breathe out forcefully also.

Perform deep and long inhalations and exhalations continuously through both the nostrils.

It increases blood circulation in the body. Very good for chronic cold, nasal allergies and various respiratory ailments.

5. Bhramari :
How to do Bramari PranayamaSit erect in Padmasana or Vajrasana or any meditative posture with head and trunk in straight line.

Close ears with thumb, index finger on forehead, rest three fingers placing on the eyes upto the sides of the nose.

Breathe in. Now breathe out through nose while humming like a bee. Keep the ears pressed and feel the vibrations inside.

It is extremely useful in voice culture. Reduces stress and tension, hypertension, high BP, heart blockage,paralysis.


Nirmalatm said...

Hey Nice Background.Very Pleasant. This post made me recollect days of Power yoga classes.We used to begin classes with Pranayama.

Niv said...

Hey you have learnt Power yoga, nice to know

Jnaneshwara said...

Nice and informative Post Nive.Keep it up..It would have been still more effective if you would have updated postures or pictures for each of these asasnas..

Niv said...

Thanks Jnani.As all the pranayama is done in sitting in one posture all pictures would have looked same. They differ only in techniques, letc if i can put some videos

Nivedita Thadani said...

Hi Niveditha
Very useful post. I am practicing these all and other 7 pranayams past 12 years. And I enjoy doing all these. I do meditation also.
Keep up the work.

Niv said...

Thanks Nivedita avre. Nice to know that you are also a yoga follower. Ever since i have learnt Yoga, am trying to spread the word and knowledge around.

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