The popularity of Pranayama in the modern world is increasing as Yoga Breathing techniques. In different exercises within yoga, Pranayama is used to achieve different goals: curb the mind’s restless movement, achieve emotional balance, cleanse and restore the body and accumulate energy.
Turning to the ancient practices of yoga, Pranayama is the control and management of prana (breath control), or universal life energy, which is closely related to such a process as Breathing. Better respiratory rates mean an increase in oxygen uptake and adequate oxygen supply is beneficial for brain cells.
Mastering pranayama is the 4th step, which brings us to the goals of yoga – knowledge of the inner world and harmonious interaction with the environment. The main goal of Pranayama is to raise vital energy through the central energy channel – Sushumna.
There are different types of techniques involved in Pranayama or Yogic breathing. This article will list ten different types of pranayama breathing techniques that you must follow in your everyday life.
1. Kapalabhati Pranayama – Belly Breathing
It is a breathing technique that cleanses the body of toxins. The technique is based on a soft inhalation and a sharp exhalation of the stomach with delays. Pauses are needed to compensate for an excess of oxygen in the brain. The technique is used in the morning on an empty stomach.
Step I: Sit in a suitable position with a straight back.
Step II: Close your eyes and focus on the mid-eyebrow.
Step III: As you inhale, inflate your stomach: relax the abdominal wall, and the air will automatically enter the lungs. As you exhale, pull your stomach to the spine, the movement should be active. The chest and upper lungs are not involved in the process.
Step IV: Start with 36 breaths. When you get used to it, bring it up to 108.
2. Ujjayi Pranayama – Warming Breathing
It’s called oceanic Breathing because it makes a gentle whooshing sound in your throat. It is called warming Breathing because it activates Agni, the inner fire. And for many yogis, it is the most important tool for focusing their concentration.
Ujjayi is one of the most important and widely used breathing exercises because it is practiced throughout the asana practice in dynamic yoga styles such as Ashtanga and Power Yoga.
Step I: Make sure your mouth is closed.
Step II: Constrict your throat to the point that your breathing makes a rushing noise, almost like snoring.
Step III: Control your breath with your diaphragm. Keep your inhalations and exhalations equal in duration.
The main feature of this breathing exercise is the gradual lengthening of the exhalation until it is twice as long as the inhalation. At the physical level, Breathing slows down by tightening the glottis, preventing air from entering and exiting the body quickly.
3. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama – Alternate Breathing
The Nadi Shodhana technique is alternate nostril Breathing, which is practiced in many yoga classes. The Pranayama has a balancing and calming effect on our minds.
Step I: Find a comfortable meditation seat with an upright back for the starting position. Relax your body and close your eyes.
Step II: Your left-hand rests loosely on your left leg. Then bring the fingers of your right hand in front of your face and place your index and middle fingers between your eyebrows.
Step III: Position your right thumb over your right nostril and your left ring finger over your left nostril.
Step IV: Then close your right nostril with your thumb. And inhale slowly and consciously through your left nostril. Count slowly to three in your head.
Step V: Then close your left nostril with your ring finger, open your right nostril and exhale slowly through it. Count to three again in your head.
Step VI: Then inhale through your right nostril for three beats. Then open your left nostril and close your right.
Step VII: Exhale through your left nostril for three beats. It was one round – now inhale again through your left nostril and practice 5-10 more rounds.
4. Bhramari Pranayama – The Hum of Bees
Bee breathing is pleasant Pranayama that calms our mind and nervous system, helps against stress, tension, and insomnia, and activates the body’s self-healing powers.
Step I: Again, find a comfortable meditation seat with an upright posture. Keep your eyes closed, and your body is relaxed. Your lips are lightly touching, and your jaws should not touch each other.
Step II: Now bring your arms to your sides and bend your elbows. Close your ears with your index or middle finger. Your attention is on your crown chakra in the center of your head. (Read – Seven Chakras in Human Body)
Step III: Your body stays very still as you now inhale through your nose, then create a deep, steady hum during a slow, controlled exhalation. This gentle hum continues throughout the exhalation. You will feel a slight quiver in your head.
Step IV: Practice this exercise for 5 to 10 breaths. Bhramari is particularly effective when practiced in the evening or early morning.
5. Bhastrika Pranayama – Bellows Breathing
Bhastrika pranayama is the name of Pranayama that imitates the action of Bhastra, or bellows, and inflates the inner fire, warming up the physical and subtle bodies.
Bhastrika pranayama is similar to Kapalabhati Vatkrama, but in Bhastrika, inhalation and exhalation are equal and result from systematic and identical movements of the lungs.
This pranayama technique promotes detoxification, kindles the inner fire (according to Ayurveda, this is digestion), helps warm the body, and heals the internal organs.
Step I: Sit in a comfortable position, such as Sukhasana or Padmasana.
Step II: Close your eyes and take a deep breath in.
Step III: Exhale sharply, using force to push the breath out of your lungs.
Step IV: Quickly inhale again, and then exhale sharply once more.
Step V: Continue this rapid, forceful breathing for about 10 to 15 breaths, keeping the rhythm smooth and even.
Step VI: After completing the set of Bhastrika, take a deep breath in, hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly.
Step V: Repeat the process two or three times.
6. Surya Bhedana Pranayama – Body Heating Breathing
Surya means sun, and Bhedana means penetrating and passing through something. In Surya Bhedana Pranayama, all inhalations are done through the right nostril and all exhalations through the left.
The nerve on the right side of the nose is called Pingala Nadi or Surya Nadi. The nerve on the left side is called Ida Nadi or Kandra Nadi. Pranic energy during inhalation passes through Pingala or Surya Nadi and exhalation through Ida or Chandra Nadi.
The right energy channel (Surya Nadi, Pingala) is one of the three most important in the human energy network (the other two are Ida (left channel) and Sushumna (central channel)). The energy in the right channel is called solar.
Extraversion prevails when it stimulates a person’s activity and actions in the outside world. Surya Nadi Pranayama cleanses the right channel and activates the energy flows, thus stimulating the brain’s left hemisphere.
Regular training using Surya Bhedana Pranayama calms the nervous system, clears the sinuses, and improves blood pressure in people with hypotension (low blood pressure).
Step: Do a Nadi pranayama, but remember Inhale through your left nostril and then close it with your little finger.
7. Chandra Bhedana Pranayama- Body Cooling Breathing
References to Chandra bhedana pranayama can be found in the Yoga Chudamani Upanishad. When translated from Sanskrit, “Chandra” means “moon.” In this method of Pranayama, all inhalations are carried out with the help of the left nostril, and all exhalations are carried out with the help of the right.
During such rhythmic Breathing, the flow of life/pranic energy on inhalation rushes along with the Ida (Chandra) and exhalation along the Pingala (Surya) Nadi.
Unlike Surya Bhedana pranayama, which leads to increased body heat production and activation of digestive processes, Chandra Bhedana pranayama acts the opposite way: it cools the body and inhibits digestion. It is best to practice Chandra Bhedana before bed or relax after a lot of stress or overexertion.
Step: Do a Nadi Pranayama, but remember to Inhale through your right nostril and then close it with your thumb.
8. Sama Vritti Pranayama – Symmetrical Breathing
Sama Vritti Pranayama is known as equal, symmetrical, or square Breathing. It is characterized by the repetition of a respiratory cycle composed of inspirations, expirations, and retentions with regular duration.
With this practice, stress and anxiety give way to a sense of calm and well-being. This exercise focuses on matching the timing of each movement in the sequence. For example, you must:
Step I: Inhale in 4 seconds.
Step II: Hold your breath with full lungs for 4 seconds.
Step III: Exhale in 4 seconds, and hold your breath with empty lungs for 4 seconds.
9. Dirga Pranayama – Three-Fold Breathing
Dirga Pranayama, or tripartite Breathing, is one of the most gentle breathing exercises imaginable. With this skill, you will be able to focus on the present moment and tune in to the physical sensations of your body.
Often, Dirga Pranayama is performed in a cross-legged sitting position, but it will be more convenient to learn the technique while lying down. In the supine position, you will feel your breath more clearly and be able to control it more accurately.
Step I: Lying on your back, close your eyes, and relaxing all the muscles in your body and your face. Take a normal breath without effort, then the same normal exhalation.
Step II: Start taking deep breaths in and out through your nose. With each exhalation, push all the air out of you, draw in your stomach, and another portion of air will leave your body.
Step III: Do at least five such breath cycles, do not rush. This will be the first part of the three-part breath.
Step IV: Take a deep breath through your nose; when it seems the stomach can no longer swell up, inhale some more air. As you exhale, ensure that the chest descends first, and only then the stomach.
Step V: Do at least five such cycles; on this, the second part of the three-part Breathing is completed.
Step VI: Inhale deeply through the nostril to fill the chest and abdomen with air, then inhale more air so that the chest rises as high as possible to the collarbone.
Step VII: Begin to exhale slowly through the nose, let the upper chest descend first and only then the heart center. The belly should be the last to go down; draw it in to ensure all the air comes out when you exhale.
Step VIII: Do at least ten breaths. This is the final part.
10. Simhasana Pranayama – Lion Breathing
This pose resembles a seated lion, hence the name Simhasana or Simha Pranayama or Breath of the Lions. While practicing, the expressions will be changed while practicing to resemble the lion’s expressions; thus, it is called Simha Mudra.
Simha Pranayama, or Lions Breath, increases the body’s internal temperature and thus prepares you for more Yogasana. It is beneficial in relieving the tension that occurs in the jaws due to teeth and jaw grinding. It prevents the throat from sagging with age as Simha Pranayama stimulates the platysma, a thin and wide muscle. This muscle is responsible for pulling the corners of the mouth and drooping the throat.
Step I: To begin practicing Simha Pranayama, sit in Vajrasana, and lean back on your heels so that your hips rest on the sides of your feet.
Step II: Open your knees in Vajrasana and place your hands behind you to sit directly between your legs. Close your mouth and seal your tongue against the hard palate.
Step III: Take a deep breath while keeping your tongue against the hard palate and relax your shoulders.
Step IV: As you inhale, close your eyes and bring your attention to the third eye.
Step V: As you exhale, open your mouth, stretch all the muscles in your face, stick your tongue out as far as possible, and create “Haaa” sounds like a lion’s roar. Practice Simha Pranayama the Lion Breath for 3-4 rounds.
Step VI: In the end, return your tongue to your mouth and relax your throat and facial muscles.
These are some essential deep breathing and Shallow breathing techniques that you should practice at home. In principle, all Pramayana should be learned under supervision since improper Breathing can lead to circulatory problems, including dizziness and nausea. It is all the more important first to learn the pranayama techniques from an expert.