How to Do Pranayam
Pranayam (also spelled Pranayama) is an ancient Indian practice concerned with controlling your breath. Research has shown that practicing Pranayama may be able to relieve symptoms of asthma.It may be beneficial in treating stress related disorders, such as anxiety and depression.There are a total of six types of Pranayam practice, all of which are detailed here.
Bhastrika Pranayam: Bellows Breath
Breathe in deeply through your nostrils.First, feel the diaphragm move down, allowing the lungs to expand and forcing the abdomen out; then feel your chest expand with your collar bones rising last.
Breath out quickly through your nostrils.Feel your collar bones dropping, chest deflating, and abdomen shrinking as the lungs collapse. This process of exhaling should be much faster than the process of inhaling -- almost like a rapid deflation.
Repeat the process.When correctly done, your chest will expand when you breathe in and deflate when you breathe out. Continue doing this for 5 minutes.
With practice, speed up your breathing.Beginners should always start slowly to avoid hyperventilating, but eventually it will be possible to turn this into a rapid breathing technique.
Kapalbhati Pranayam: Shining Forehead Breath
Inhale through your nostrils normally until your lungs are full.Keep your inhalation slow but unforced. First, feel the diaphragm move down, allowing the lungs to expand and forcing the abdomen out; then feel your chest expand with your collar bones rising last.
Exhale through both nostrils forcefully.This places the emphasis of the breath on the exhale rather than the (natural) inhale. Assist your exhalation by pulling in your stomach muscles to expel air. Exhaling should take much less time than it took to inhale.
- “Forced” exhalation means that the contraction of your stomach muscles helps push the air out of your body. It doesnotmean that the exhalation should be uncomfortable for you in any way.
Repeat breaths for 15 minutes.You may take a minute's rest after every five minutes.
Anulom Vilom Pranayam: Alternate Nostril Breath
Close your eyes.Focus your attention on your breathing.
Close the right nostril with the right thumb.Simply press the thumb against your nostril to block it.
Inhale slowly through the left nostril.Fill your lungs with air. First, feel the diaphragm move down, allowing the lungs to expand and forcing the abdomen out; then feel your chest expand with your collar bones rising last.
Remove your thumb from your right nostril.Keep your right hand by your nose and your lungs full of air.
Use your ring and middle finger to close your left nostril.Most people find it easier to continue using the same hand to block either nostril, but you’re welcome to switch hands depending on which nostril you’re blocking.
- You can also switch if your arm gets tired.
Exhale slowly and completely with the right nostril.Feel the collar bones dropping, chest deflating, and abdomen shrinking as the lungs collapse. When you've finished exhaling, keep your left nostril closed.
Inhale through the right nostril.Fill your lungs.
Close the right nostril and open the left.
Breathe out slowly through the left nostril.This process is one round of Anulom Vilom Pranayam.
Continue for 15 minutes.You may take a minute's rest after every five minutes of exercise.
Bahya Pranayam: External Breath
Inhale deeply through your nose.First, feel the diaphragm move down, allowing the lungs to expand and forcing the abdomen out; then feel your chest expand with your collar bones rising last.
Exhale forcefully.Use your stomach and diaphragm to push the air from your body. “Forced” exhalation means that the contraction of your stomach muscles helps push the air out of your body. It doesnotmean that the exhalation should be uncomfortable for you in any way.
Touch your chin to your chest and suck in your stomach completely.The goal is to leave a hollow below your ribcage, making it look like the front muscle wall of your abdomen is pressed against the back. Hold this position -- and your breath -- for as long as is comfortable.
Lift your chin and breathe in slowly.Allow your lungs to completely fill with air.
Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Bhramari Pranayam: Bee Breath
Close your eyes.Focus on your breathing.
Place your thumbs in your ears, your index fingers above your eyebrows, and your remaining along the sides of your nose.Keep each pinky finger near a nostril.
Breath in deeply through the nose.First, feel the diaphragm move down, allowing the lungs to expand and forcing the abdomen out; then feel your chest expand with your collar bones rising last.
Use your pinkies to partially close each nostril.Keep your lungs filled.
Breathe out through the nose while humming.Note that the humming sound should originate in your throat, not as a result of your partially-blocked nostrils.
Repeat three times.
Udgeeth Pranayam: Chanting Breath
Breathe in deeply through the nose.First, feel the diaphragm move down, allowing the lungs to expand and forcing the abdomen out; then feel your chest expand with your collar bones rising last.
Exhale very slowly while saying Om.Allow the syllable to draw out as slowly as you can. Make sure to keep the O long and the M short. (“OOOOOOm.”)
Repeat 3 times.
QuestionWhat is the best pranayam to help me deal with asthma?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerKapalbhati and anulom vilom are very useful for asthma.Thanks!
QuestionWhen we should do Pranayam?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe best time is in the morning, around 45 minutes before eating breakfast.Thanks!
QuestionWhich Pranayama is good for different kinds of mental disorder?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAll Pranayama can be practiced and are effective; Udgeeth Pranayama for this case.Thanks!
QuestionWill these breathing techniques help with COPD?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, pranayama practice is used to help with treatment of Chronic Obstruction Pulmonary Disease.Thanks!
QuestionI have bilateral sensory-neural hearing loss; what type of yoga or meditation is best?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPracticing AnulomaViloma, Kapalabhathi, or Bramari Pranayma for 15 minutes daily helps to treat hearing problems.Thanks!
QuestionCan I do this while I am pregnant?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can do anulom vilom, Bhramari Pranayam, Bahya Pranayam, and Bhastrika Pranayam only. Don't try to do forced exhalation.Thanks!
QuestionWhat type of Pranayam is useful for feeling active for today's work?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAll Pranayama are equally effective in relieving stress, so you could do any type that you choose.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the best pranayam for a high altitude area?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTaking into consideration the thin air and lower oxygen level, Anulom Vilom (alternate nostril breathing) is a good choice.Thanks!
QuestionWhat type of pranayam is good for mental stress?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAny out of six is good, but if you are comfortable with it, kapalbhati prayanam is best. At first, don't do it more than 2-5 minutes. After a month or two, increase it 15 minutes. The best time to do this is morning (1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunrise).Thanks!
QuestionCan this help in lowering blood pressure?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, kapalbhati and anulom vilom are useful for almost all diseases.Thanks!
Which one will work best for increasing my concentration?
Could it be helpful to do the Udgeeth Pranayam for enlightenment purpose or any other type can be more useful and for how much time?
Which pranayama is useful after having an angioplasty?
One of my friends is suffering from "lupus with severe pulmonary arterial hypertension". Could Pranayam help them?
Which pranayam is good for imbalance?
||A tutorial on diaphragmatic breathing.|
If you want to do Kapalbhati Pranayam, inhale normally through your nostrils until your lungs are full, and then contract your stomach muscles to forcefully push the air out through your nostrils. Repeat that exercise for 5 minutes at a time, until you reach a total of 15 minutes. Alternately, to do Bahya Pranayam, lift your head and inhale slowly. Then, return your head to a normal position, exhale, and lower your chin to your chest. Repeat that 3 to 5 times.
- It’s preferable to practice Pranayam in the morning.
- If you prefer to do Pranayam in the evening, do it on an empty stomach; keep a several-hour gap between your meals and Pranayam.
- Always do what is most comfortable for you. If any of these exercises makes you feel light-headed or uncomfortable, stop or slow down immediately. Take breaks often as necessary.
- If you have a medical condition, consult with your doctor before doing pranayama. For example, if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, labored breathing, a hernia, or any other condition that could be exacerbated by especially fast, deep, or intense breathing, you may have to modify or skip some of the following exercises.
- Sit comfortably with your spine erect. You can sit in the traditional lotus position or simply make yourself comfortable in a chair. For additional tips, read How to Sit Like a Zen Master.
- Don’t suck in your gut. Unless otherwise noted, it’s important that you relax your stomach muscles when doing yoga breathing exercises; when they’re held tight like a corset, you can’t take oxygen as deeply into your lungs.
- Make sure your nose isn’t stuffy. Nostril breathing is crucial in yoga, so if you have a head cold, you won’t be able to complete these exercise.
- People with abdominal wounds, surgical operations, hernias, peritonitis, appendicitis, a prolapsed rectum or uterus, or a hiatus hernia, as well as women who have recently delivered, should completely avoid Kapalbhati Pranayam, a.k.a. Shining Forehead Breath.
- Pregnant women and anyone with a fever should consult a doctor before doing Pranayam.
- Children above 5 years should do Bhastrika Pranayam for only 2 minutes and Kapalbhati and Anulom Vilom Pranayam each for 5 minutes.
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