Apr 12

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Simple Breathing Exercises – Pranayama

Pranayam is a great way to start your day. In today’s stressful life it is very important to practice breathe exercise for at least half an hour daily. It is helpful for mind and soul. Pranayama can help you regulate your system, alter your mood and ensure longevity. The main aspects of pranayama are inhalation, exhalation and retention. It improves total well being.

Types of pranayama- Breathe controlling techniques- Breathing Exercises


There are about 50 different pranayamas described in the Vedas. Below we list 7 most common and significant ones:

1) ANULOM-VILOM- Method & Benefits


Sit in a comfortable balanced meditative pose.
Use the right hand thumb to close your right nostril.
Inhale from the left nostril.
Close your left nostril with your right hand’s index and middle fingers
Exhale from the right nostril.
Do the reverse: inhale with the right nostril.
Close your right nostril with your right hand thumb.
Exhale with the left nostril.
This is one round of anulom-vilom pranayama.

Benefits of Anulom-Vilom-

Balancing body temperature
Relieving stress
Cleansing the nadis in your body
Improving blood circulation
Promoting longevity.

2) BHRAMARI Method & Benefits

Sit in a meditative pose or in a comfortable position on the floor.
Keep your back straight, shoulders muscles relaxed and eyes closed.
Close both your ears with the index fingers of both hands.
Raise your elbows to the level of your shoulders.
Inhale deeply.
Retain your breath for as long as possible.
Exhale slowly making a buzzing sound like that of a bee.
Calms the body
Relieves stress
Makes the voice pleasant and melodious
Strengthens vocal cords
Cures diseases of the throat
Increases concentration.

3) SHEETALI Method & Benefits

Sit in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes and relax your whole body with normal breathing
Put the tongue on the lower lip and try to roll the tongue.
Inhale deeply from the mouth.
Retain your breath for as long as possible.
Close the mouth slowly and exhale through the nose.
This is one round of sheetali pranayama. You can start by doing 2 – 3 rounds, and gradually go up to 15 rounds.

Benefits of Shitali pranayama:
Cools the body
Cures acidity and hypertension
Relieves indigestion and disorders of the bile
Improves health of eyes and skin
Cures tonsillitis.
This pranayama is not recommended during winters. People suffering from a heavy cold must avoid shitali pranayama.

4) UJJAYI Method & Benefits

Sit erect in a comfortable posture.
Inhale slowly and deeply through both nostrils.
Hold your breath for as long as possible.
Exhale slowly with a whispering sound, contracting the air passage.
This is a single round of ujjayi pranayama. You can start by doing 2 – 3 rounds.

Benefits of Ujjayi pranayama:

Strengthens the vocal cord
Stimulates the thyroid gland
Improves blood circulation
Eases diseases of the lungs, chest and throat.
Avoid doing this pranayama if you suffer from cardiac problems.

5) BHASTRIKA Method & Benefits

Sit in a meditative pose or in a comfortable position on the floor.
Keep the back straight and shoulder muscles relaxed.
Close the right nostril with your right thumb and bring your right elbow to the level of right shoulder.
Close your eyes. Inhale and exhale through left nostril—first slowly, then a little faster
Do the above steps about 20 – 25 times.
Take a long breath in and retain it for as long as possible
This is one round of bhastrika pranayama. Now, repeat this round by closing your left nostril and breathing through your right nostril.

Releases toxins from the body
Reduces excess fat
Enhances digestion
Regulates the nervous system
Purifies blood.
Avoid practising bhastrika pranayama if you suffer from hypertension, heart/lung complications or hernia. Weak persons [people with some illness or a low stamina] should avoid doing this pranayama too often.


6) SAMA VRITTI “Equal Breathing”- Method & Benefits

Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position.
Close your eyes and begin to notice your natural breath, not changing anything at first.
To start, inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four — all through the nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath.
Begin a slow count to four as you inhale. Then also count to four as you exhale. The exercise is to match the length of your inhale and exhale.
You may experiment with changing the number you count to, just make sure your inhale and exhale stay the same length.
Continue breathing this way for several minutes.

Benefits of sama vritti

It calm the nervous system
Increase focus
Reduce stress
Beneficial to insomnia patients, if done before bed time.

7) KAPALBHATI or “Skull Shining Breath” Method & Benefits

kapal bhati


Sit comfortably with your spine erect. Place your hands on the knees, palms open to the sky.
Take a deep breath in.
As you exhale, pull your stomach. Pull your navel in back towards the spine. Do as much as you comfortably can. You may keep your right hand on the stomach to feel the abdominal muscles contract. Pull the navel in.
As you relax the navel and abdomen, the breath flows into your lungs automatically.
Take 20 such breaths to complete one round of Kapal Bhati pranayama.
After completing the round, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.
Do two more rounds of Skull Shining breathing technique (Kapal Bhati pranayama).

Benefits of Skull Shining Breathing Technique (Kapal Bhati Pranayama)

Effective in reducing weight by increasing the metabolic rate
Clears the nadis (subtle energy channels)
Stimulates abdominal organs and thus is extremely useful to those with diabetes
Improves blood circulation and adds radiance to the face
Improves digestive tract functioning, absorption and assimilation of nutrients
Results in a taut and trimmed down belly
Energizes the nervous system and rejuvenates brain cells
Calms and uplifts the mind
Who should avoid Kapalbhati:

Avoid practicing this breathing technique if you have an artificial pacemaker or stents, backache due to slip disc, recently went through an abdominal surgery, or are suffering with epilepsy or hernia.
Women should not practice Skull Shining breathing technique (Kapal Bhati pranayama) during and shortly after pregnancy, as well as during menstruation as it involves vigorous abdominal squeezes.
People with hypertension and heart problems should practice this breathing technique under a yoga expert’s guidance.

Level of difficulty: Advanced


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