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14 types of Pranayamas

J

Jahnavi Patwardhan

April 04, 2022

General
14 types of Pranayamas

Pranayama means regulation of the prana or life force by regulating the breath. Basic preliminary checks before starting pranayama practice

  • Sit in a well ventilated room
  • Make sure you sit with an erect spine and in a comfortable posture
  • Do not overdo any practice, be mindful of yourself and the breath
  • Keep the facial muscles relaxed throughout the practice

1. Anuloma Viloma (Alternate nostril breathing)

Anuloma viloma pranayama

Method

  1. Sit in a comfortable meditative posture. Close your eyes, resting the left palm on the knee.
  2. Close the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand and inhale deeply through the left nostril for.
  3. Close both nostrils with the thumb and ring finger and hold breath for a few counts
  4. With the left nostril closed open the right nostril and exhale slowly through right.
  5. Repeat the above cycle, this time inhaling through the right, and exhal-ing trough the left nostril.

Benefits

  • Helps clear the nasal passages
  • Regulates blood pressure and blood oxygen levels
  • Promotes quietitude and inner harmony
  • Has calming effect on the nervous system
  • Improves concentration
  • Balances the energies in our body

Precautions

  • Children under the age of 12 should not practice this pranayama
  • Cardiac patients should avoid holding the breath

2. Bhastrika (Bellows breaths)

Bhastrika pranayama (inhale)Bhastrika pranayama (exhale)

Method

  1. Take in a deep breath and breathe out forcefully through the nose, without any strain.
  2. Just immediately breathe in with the similar force.
  3. Inhale and exhale repeatedly, deeply and thoroughly with vigor. The abdomen goes out during inhalation, and the diaphragm descends, the reverse of that happens with exhalation.
  4. The movements must be slightly exaggerated. The bresthing should produce strong nasal sounds. The process should be rhythmic and con-trolled, maintaining the speed as per personal capacity.

Benefits

  • Strengthens the respiratory and the digestive system
  • Drains excess phlegm from the lungs
  • Provides the required oxygen to the blood
  • Calms the mind
  • Energizes the body and mind

Precautions

  • Heart ailments/ hypertension
  • Fever
  • Vertigo
  • Pregnancy
  • Abdominal surgery or disorders
  • Spinal ailments
  • Eye ailments eg: detached retina etc

3. Bhramari (Bee breath)

Bhramhari pranayama

Method

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and breathe deeply.
  2. Now close your ears lids or flaps with your thumbs.
  3. Take a deep breath in
  4. Keep your mouth closed; breathe out slowly through your nose making a humming sound of a bee.
  5. Repeat this process atleast 5 times

Benefits

  • Has a calming effect on the nerves and thus can help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Restores elasticity of the lungs and can thus be beneficial in treating asthma
  • It is highly beneficial for people suffering from Insomnia/Sleep prob-lems and Thyroid abnormalities

Precautions

  • None

4&5. Sheetli & Sitkari pranayama (Cooling breaths)

Sheetli

Sheetali pranayama

Method

  1. Sit in a comfortable position
  2. Bring the tongue all the way out and roll it in the shape of a tube (curl-ing the sides in towards the center to form a tube). If you can’t roll it, simply purse the lips making a small “o” shape with the mouth.
  3. Inhale through the tube of the tongue and at the end of inhalation, re-tain the breath for a few counts.
  4. When ready to exhale, close the mouth and exhale through the nose.
  5. Repeat this process for 5-10 times.

Sitkari

Sitkari pranayama

Method

  1. Sit in a comfortable position
  2. Open the lips and (as if you’re smiling) bring the teeth together lightly, do not clench them.
  3. Take a long deep inhale through the gap between the teeth and retain breath for a few counts.
  4. When ready to exhale, close your mouth and exhale through the nose
  5. Repeat this process 5-10 times.

Benefits

  • Both techniques are effective in cooling the entire body, the nervous system and also the brain
  • Reduces stress, anger and anxiety effectively
  • Lowers the Blood Pressure
  • Manages insomnia and enables deep relaxing sleep

Precautions

  • Avoid these methods during the extreme cold days of winter (unless your body heat is excess)
  • Avoid this pranayama if you are suffering from asthma, cold, cough and congestion
  • If you have a history of chronic constipation, stop doing these breath-ing techniques as they cool the area around Swadhishtana Chakra)

6. Ujjayi

Ujjayi pranayama

Method

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, close the mouth and constrict the throat (the glottis)
  2. Start inhaling—slowly and rhythmically in one long and unbroken in-spiration.
  3. Allow the air to pass through the constricted throat, creating a “fric-tion sound”.
  4. Continue inhaling till there is a sense of fullness in the chest.
  5. Retain the inhaled air for a few counts.
  6. Now exhale as naturally as possible – gradually, avoiding jerky or hasty movements.

Benefits

  • Helps with issues related to fluid retention in the body (edema/ drop-sy)
  • Increases appetite by aiding in digestion
  • Is known to help with chronic cold, cough, fever and other diseases
  • It purifies and detoxifies the elements in the body
  • Enriches the voice
  • Stimulates and balances thyroid

Precautions

  • Serious cardiac issues and hypertension

7. Bahya pranayama

Bahya pranayama

Method

  1. Sit in a comfortable position
  2. Inhale
  3. Exhale completely dropping the chin to the chest. Pull the stomach up-wards as much as you can.
  4. Hold that breath for 5 to 10 seconds, as you feel comfortable.
  5. Then relax your stomach and inhale bringing head back to centre

Benefits

  • Helps reduce and eventually cure stomach related ailments (like Con-stipation, Acidity, Gastric problem, Hernia)
  • Improves concentration of mind
  • Improves digestion
  • Beneficial for diabetes patients
  • Brings about calmness and tranquiltity

Precautions

  • Those who have cervical pain, do not apply Chin Lock
  • Heart and high blood pressure patients should not do this pranayama

8&9. Suryabhedana and Chandrabhedana

Our right nostril is energetically associated with our body's heating energy, symbolized by the "Sun" and the syllable HA, our left nostril with our body's cooling energy, symbolized by the "Moon" and the syllable THA.

Suryabhedana

Surya bedhana pranayama

Method

  • Sit in a comfortable position
  • Bring the right hand to the nostrils, block the left nostrils completely with the tips of the ring and little fingers.
  • Inhale carefully and deeply through the right nostril, without using force, until the lungs are completely full.
  • Completely block the right nostril and open the left nostril.
  • Exhale slowly, steadily and deeply through the left nostrils, till the lungs feel empty.
  • This completes one cycle

Benefits

  • This increases heat in the body and the digestive power.
  • Soothes and invigorates the nerves
  • Cleanses the sinuses
  • It is good for individuals suffering from low blood pressure.

Precautions

  • People suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure or epilepsy should avoid this pranayama
  • People who have undergone brain surgeries, heart surgeries or abdominal surgeries should be cautious
  • This pranayama increases the heat of your body so it should be avoided if suffering from fever

Chandrabhedana

Chandra bedhana

Method

  1. Sit in a comfortable position
  2. Bring the right hand to the nostrils, block the right nostril with the tip of the thumb.
  3. Inhale slowly, carefully and deeply through the left nostril, without us-ing force, until the lungs are completely full.
  4. Completely block the left nostril and open the right nostril.
  5. Exhale slowly, steadily and deeply through the right nostril, till the lungs feel empty.
  6. This completes one cycle.

Benefits

  • Helpful in reduces the body heat
  • Useful in heart burning problems
  • Effective for people who suffer from hypertension
  • Useful in fever
  • Great mental benefits of a stable mind
  • Useful in reducing the tension, stress and other mental problems

Precautions

  • This pranayama should not be done during heavy winters
  • People suffering from heart disease, low blood pressure or epilepsy should avoid this pranayama
  • It should not be performed if you are suffering from any kind of cold, it in-creases the cooling in your body

10. Kapalbhati

kapalabhati

Method It is non-injurious, non-irritating and absolutely simple. Anyone could prac-tice this purification technique without any contraindications or adverse ef-fects and enjoy the positive benefits.

  1. This technique is simple can be done anytime and anywhere. But en-sure your environment is dust and pollution free. Lush green areas with ample of green trees are ideal. Sit in any meditative pose su-khasana, padmasana etc.
  2. Keep your spine erect, chin parallel to the ground & place your palms on your knees facing downwards. Breathe normally for a few rounds & relax.
  3. Now inhale and exhale through your nose; Kapalabhati technique comprises of short & strong forceful exhalation and inhalation(passive inhalation). Both inhalation and exhalation count should be same. En-sure your stomach and chest region both are stable without any con-scious movement (slight movement is natural but don’t do it con-sciously).
  4. Initially, do 10 rounds in one sitting.

Benefits

  • This breathing exercise is mainly for cleansing the facial sinuses
  • Blood circulation and oxygenation of entire face is improved
  • Long term benefits include slows down the aging process and helps to calm the facial nerves and relaxes the facial muscles. Rejuvenates tired cells, helping in reducing wrinkles and other signs of aging
  • A healthy natural skin glow of face is seen if you practice regularly
  • Reduces sinusitis and migraine attack frequency
  • Serves as a therapeutic tool to cure anemia
  • Cleanses the eyes ducts and vision is improved
  • The sense of smell is improved and aids digestion
  • Cleanses the nervous system and calms the mind, helps relieve stress built-up
  • The lymphatic system and thyroid function are benefitted

Precautions

  • Kapalabhati should not be practiced by pregnant or menstruating women
  • It should be avoided by individuals with high or low blood pressure, heart disease, hernia, gastric ulcer, epilepsy, vertigo, migraine headaches
  • significant nosebleeds, detached retina, glaucoma
  • history of stroke, and for anyone who has undergone recent abdominal surgery

11. Diaphragmatic/Abdominal breathing

Pranayama

Method

  1. Lie in Shavasan with the lower back to relaxed.
  2. Place one palm on the belly and the other hand on the chest.
  3. Inhale deep-ly, using the diaphragm.
  4. As you inhale, the diaphragm will move down-ward, pushing the abdominal contents down and out, making the abdomen rise.
  5. On exhalation the diaphragm moves upwards and the abdomen falls.
  6. Continue the practice.

12. Thoracic breathing

Breath Awareness

This type of breathing is mostly helpful to create awareness in how we breathe and as a stepping stone to learning yogic breathing. It is the common way many of us breathe which expends more energy than abdominal breathing.

To practice thoracic breathing one starts with breath awareness and then tries to focus on expanding the ribcage only, without using the diaphragm. The focus should be only on the expansion of the chest as one inhales and the contraction of the chest as one exhales.

13. Clavicular breathing

Pranayama

This type of breathing is generally done in combination with thoracic breathing in periods of great stress such as strong physical exertion or ob-structive airways problems such as asthma or emphysema. The upper ribs and collar bones are pulled upward by the sternum and neck and this al-lows more air into the lungs. In yoga we only use it alone to create aware-ness and then afterwards combine it with thoracic and abdominal breath-ing to form yogic breathing.

To practice clavicular breathing one starts with breath awareness and then thoracic breathing for a few minutes. After that breathe in fully, into the chest, from there try to breathe in a little more so that one can feel the ex-pansion right into the upper lungs. The collar bones and shoulders will raise up slightly. Next exhale, first relaxing the neck and upper chest and then the ribcage. Continue a few rounds.

14. Yogic breathing

Breath Awareness

This breathing involves the use of all the breathing muscles- diaphragm, thoracic and clavicular. It can also be practiced before other breathing techniques. It allows one to have maximum inhalation and exhalation.

Inhale slowly, allowing the abdomen to rise. When the abdomen had ex-panded as much as it can allow the chest to expand outward and upward. Once the ribs have expanded as much as they can inhale a little more so that the collar bones move up slightly. Then slowly exhale first allowing the collar bones to move downward, then the chest and finally the abdomen. Continue the practice without any strain, jerks or tension. The breath should feel natural and after some time it should be mostly thoracic and abdominal breathing. Abdominal breathing should be at least 70% of the breath.