Types of Pranayama – Yoga Breathing Techniques

What is Pranayama

Pranayama is a Sanskrit word that means breath expansion. Pranayama is performed as part of yoga practice as an interface of body and mind and it can assist with the control of some respiratory problems as well as psychological problems like anxiety, panic attacks, phobias and depression. The regular practice of pranayama can be quite energising, relaxing and improve balance and concentration. Pranayama is the forth principal of Patanjali’s eight-lmbed yoga path.

Types of Pranayama

Relaxing pranayama breathing practice

  • Ujjayi Pranayama – victorious breath: consists of the narrowing of the air passages in your throat which enables precise control of the flow of air in and out of the body. Breathe through the nose, making a gentle hissing noise, similar to the sound of a shell when you place it to your ear. Inhalation and exhalation should be of equal length with no tension in the jaw or tongue, there should be no gasping or sighing sounds.
  • Bhramari Pranayama – humming bee
  • Sheetali Pranayama – cooling breath

Energising pranayama breathing practice

  • Bhastrika Pranayama – bellows breath (this should not be practice by sufferers of cardiovascular, digestive or nervous disorders)
  • Kapalabhati Pranayama – shining skull

Balancing pranayama breathing practice

  • Nadi Shodana Pranayama – alternate nostril breathing

How to Practice Nadi Shodana Pranayama – Yoga Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique

A complete round of Nadi Shodana breathing can be performed as below. The example below is based on a single inhalation of four seconds. This is just a guideline and can be modified according to the rhythm of your breathing.

Hold the nostrils with the right thumb and the ring finger. Place the middle and index fingers on the forehead, between the eyebrows. Repeat each stage three times.

Nadi Shodana stage one

  • Inhale through the left nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 4 seconds
  • Exhale through the right nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds
  • Inhale through the right nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 4 seconds
  • Exhale through the left nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds

Nadi Shodana stage two

  • Inhale through the left nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 4 seconds
  • Exhale through the right nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds
  • Inhale through the right nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 4 seconds
  • Exhale through the left nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds

Nadi Shodana stage three

  • Inhale through the left nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 8 seconds
  • Exhale through the right nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds
  • Inhale through the right nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 8 seconds
  • Exhale through the left nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds

Nadi Shodana stage four

  • Inhale through the left nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 12 seconds
  • Exhale through the right nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds
  • Inhale through the right nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 12 seconds
  • Exhale through the left nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds

Nadi Shodana stage five

  • Inhale through the left nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 16 seconds
  • Exhale through the right nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds
  • Inhale through the right nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 16 seconds
  • Exhale through the left nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds

Nadi Shodana stage six

  • Inhale through the left nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 12 seconds
  • Exhale through the right nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds
  • Inhale through the right nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 12 seconds
  • Exhale through the left nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds

Nadi Shodana stage seven

  • Inhale through the left nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 8 seconds
  • Exhale through the right nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds
  • Inhale through the right nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 8 seconds
  • Exhale through the left nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds

Nadi Shodana stage eight

  • Inhale through the left nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 4 seconds
  • Exhale through the right nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds
  • Inhale through the right nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 4 seconds
  • Exhale through the left nostril – 8 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds

Nadi Shodana stage nine

  • Inhale through the left nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 4 seconds
  • Exhale through the right nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds
  • Inhale through the right nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath in – 4 seconds
  • Exhale through the left nostril – 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath out – 4 seconds

The breath inhalation should be strong but you should not force it. You should be comfortable on each stage of the breathing before you start increasing the breath ratio. You should avoid retain the breath for long if you suffer from hypertension or have other cardiovascular problems.

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  3 comments for “Types of Pranayama – Yoga Breathing Techniques

  1. D S VASUDEV
    October 18, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Pl suggest thru’ email how to reduce weight in particular and tummy fat in particular. Am taking Blood Pressure Medication since 2 years. pl suggest me on a regular basis for the above two problems.

    Thanks

  2. YogaMums
    October 18, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    To aid others it would be better for us to reply here. To lose weight you need to combine diet and exercise. A healthy calorie restricted diet will also help your with your blood pressure. Read through our MCD Weight Loss Plan. It includes a diet plan (a low sugar eating plan) and several different exercise options. Any further questions then ask there.

  3. KKG
    October 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Pl suggest thru’ email how to reduce weight & tummy fat in particular for my friend. She is taking Medication for Blood Pressure for last 3 yrs, for Hypothyroidism for last 3 yrs and for Diabetese for last 3 months. Kindly suggest me on a regular basis for the above two problems.

    Thanks and Regards!
    KKG

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