Breath control: 8 best pranayama techniques

Eight most effective pranayama techniques to practice as per need

Man doing pranayama

Pranayama is a breath-control technique. In Sanskrit, pran means life and ayama means way. Pranayama can help you regulate your system, alter your mood and ensure longevity. The main aspects of pranayama are inhalation, exhalation and retention. Pranayama always begins with inhalations and exhalations. This strengthens the lungs and balances the nervous system, preparing the body to hold the breath [retention]. Practising pranayama on a regular basis regulates energy flow to the 72 thousand nadis [channels through which consciousness flows] in our body, helping us improve our wellbeing.

Types of pranayama

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

CHANDRABHEDAN

Method

  1. Sit in a meditative pose or in a comfortable position on the floor.
  2. Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed.
  3. Close your right nostril with right hand thumb.
  4. Inhale from the left nostril.
  5. Close the left nostril with the right hand index and middle fingers.
  6. Exhale from the right nostril.

This completes one round of Chandrabhedan pranayama. You can gradually do up to 20 rounds.

Benefit

Chandrabhedan cools the body and cures heartburn.

Contradictions

Avoid this pranayama if you suffer from low blood pressure. Note: This pranayama is to be done only during summer.

SURYABHEDAN

Method

  1. Sit in a meditative pose or in a comfortable posture.
  2. Close your left nostril with your index and middle finger of the right hand.
  3. Inhaling from your right nostril.
  4. Close the right nostril with your right hand thumb.
  5. Exhale through the left nostril.

This completes one round of Suryabhedan pranayama. You can gradually do up to 20 rounds.

Benefits of Suryabhedan

  • Increases body heat and energy levels
  • Improves digestion
  • Purifies blood
  • Delays ageing.

Contraindications

  • Avoid doing this pranayama if you suffer from acidity, hypertension or heart problems.
  • It is to be done only during winter.

ANULOM-VILOM

Method

  1. Sit in a comfortable balanced meditative pose.
  2. Use the right hand thumb to close your right nostril.
  3. Inhale from the left nostril.
  4. Close your left nostril with your right hand’s index and middle fingers
  5. Exhale from the right nostril.
  6. Do the reverse: inhale with the right nostril.
  7. Close your right nostril with your right hand thumb.
  8. Exhale with the left nostril.

This is one round of anulom-vilom pranayama.

Benefits

Anulom-Vilom aids in:

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

Remember

While practising this pranayama, you must breathe into your lungs and not into your stomach. It can be done the year round and by every one.

BHASTRIKA

Method

  1. Sit in a meditative pose or in a comfortable position on the floor.
  2. Keep the back straight and shoulder muscles relaxed.
  3. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and bring your right elbow to the level of right shoulder.
  4. Close your eyes. Inhale and exhale through left nostril—first slowly, then a little faster
  5. Do the above steps about 20 – 25 times.
  6. 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.

Benefits

This pranayama:

  • Releases toxins from the body
  • Reduces excess fat
  • Enhances digestion
  • Regulates the nervous system
  • Purifies blood.

Contradictions

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.

UJJAYI

Method

  1. Sit erect in a comfortable posture.
  2. Inhale slowly and deeply through both nostrils.
  3. Hold your breath for as long as possible.
  4. 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

Ujjayi pranayama:

  • Strengthens the vocal cord
  • Stimulates the thyroid gland
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Eases diseases of the lungs, chest and throat.

Contradictions

Avoid doing this pranayama if you suffer from cardiac problems.

SHEETALI

Method

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Close your eyes and relax your whole body with normal breathing
  3. Put the tongue on the lower lip and try to roll the tongue.
  4. Inhale deeply from the mouth.
  5. Retain your breath for as long as possible.
  6. 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

Shitali pranayama:

  • Cools the body
  • Cures acidity and hypertension
  • Relieves indigestion and disorders of the bile
  • Improves health of eyes and skin
  • Cures tonsillitis.

Contradictions

This pranayama is not recommended during winters. People suffering from a heavy cold must avoid shitali pranayama.

SHEETKARI

Method

  1. Sit in a meditative pose or in a comfortable posture on the floor
  2. Keep the back straight and shoulders relaxed
  3. Place hands on the knees, fingers relaxed and eyes closed
  4. Join lower and upper teeth
  5. Fix front portion of the tongue against the front teeth and the rest of the tongue on the palate
  6. Separate the lips and inhale from the mouth making a chilling sound
  7. Retain your breath for as long as possible
  8. Exhale through both nostrils

This is one round of sheetkari pranayama.

Benefits

Sheetkari pranayama cools the body and keeps teeth and gums healthy.

Contradictions

Avoid this pranayama if you suffer from low blood pressure.

BHRAMARI

Method

  1. Sit in a meditative pose or in a comfortable position on the floor.
  2. Keep your back straight, shoulders muscles relaxed and eyes closed.
  3. Close both your ears with the index fingers of both hands.
  4. Raise your elbows to the level of your shoulders.
  5. Inhale deeply.
  6. Retain your breath for as long as possible.
  7. Exhale slowly making a buzzing sound like that of a bee.

Benefits

This pranayama:

  • Calms the body
  • Relieves stress
  • Makes the voice pleasant and melodious
  • Strengthens vocal cords
  • Cures diseases of the throat
  • Increases concentration.

Remember

For best results, practice this pranayama at night or early morning.

The more you control your breathing, the longer you will you live. Pranayama also helps you stay healthy and young for longer.

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  • PAYAL Gidwani-Tiwari

    PAYAL Gidwani-Tiwari

    Payal Gidwani-Tiwari is a certified yoga instructor and the founder and CEO of Cosmic Fusion - the wellness studio in Mumbai.

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8 Responses to Breath control: 8 best pranayama techniques

  1. Pingback: 8 Indispensable Ancient Techniques to Unwind at the End of a Stressful Day | Inspire Portal

  2. Pingback: The Mayo Clinic Pushes the Benefits of Relaxation | Standard Madness

  3. very intresting

  4. thats nice article .
    very great breathing exercises. they help to get energy.
    in this article you specified there are 50 techniques can you explain them also i need to in deep how to practice and benefits.
    thank you.
    with regards
    gauhar ansari.

  5. I have moderate Triglyceride level of around 237 mg/dL and BP hovers from 135/80 to 160/90. What kind of pranayamas are the best?

    Thanks and Regards,
    Manodipan

  6. Pingback: » Powerful Techniques For Transforming Your Health With Your Breath Zazen Life

  7. Please let me know what types of asanas can be done for cervical spondylosis patient as i am doing yoga but suffering from spondylosis, pl. advise will be thankful to you.

    Thanks

  8. It is simple to understand and follow suryabhedan and chandrabhedan

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