Friday, July 3

8 Best Pranayama Techniques – Yoga Breathing Videos

8-best-pranayama-techniques-breathe

Pranayama is yogic breathing techniques. These techniques can deliver calming or energizing effects when preformed. I’ve complied 8 of my favorites and am excited to share them with you today!

Nadi Shodhana – Alternate Nostril Breathing

Nadi Shodhana is the first of the Four Purification’s – which are teachings and techniques from Baba Hari Dass of the Mount Madonna Institute.

Nadi is something tubular-like within the body that prana (energy) can pass through, like a vein or artery.

Shodhana means cleansing, or purifying.

While practicing Nadi Shodhana, we are cleansing our nerves to prevent blockages, so that prana (energy) can move through the body.

In this technique, you are breathing strictly through your nostrils. If your nasal passages are obscured in any way (from a cold, allergies, ect.) do not practice Nadi Shodhana. Instead, maybe practice a throat breathing technique.

Technique:
With your right hand, drop your ‘peace’ fingers – your pointer and middle fingers. You will alternately be blocking your right nostril with your thumb, and then your left nostril with your ring/pinky finger. Inhale slowly and deeply, exhale slowly and controlled.

Begin in Sukasana (easy posy/criss-cross apple sauce)

1. Block your left nostril, inhale through your right

2. SWITCH: block your right nostril, exhale through your left

3. STAY: keeping your right nostril blocked, inhale through your left

4. SWITCH: block your left nostril, exhale through your right

5. STAY: keeping your left nostril blocked, inhale through your right

6. SWITCH: block your right nostril, inhale through your left

7. STAY: keeping your left nostril blocked, exhale through your right

REPEAT 10-40+ times 🙂

***You can do this without your hands at all, controlling with your breath with only your mind. This can be particularly nice during Shavasana. 

Kapalabhati – Skull Shining Breath

Kapalabhati is the second of the Four Purification’s.

Kapala means skull.

Bhati means light, or shine.

While practicing Kapalabhati breath, we are invigorating and activating our abdominal organs. This is a very energizing practice, as we are increasing the tapas (fire) within us.

In this technique, you are breathing strictly through your nostrils. Your inhale is natural, and more shallow then your vigorous exhale. If you have high or low blood pressure, or experience any lightheadedness, refrain from practicing this technique.

Technique:

Inhale slowly, then exhale forcefully through your nostrils, with a small moment on retention in between. Your focus is really on the exhale during this practice.

Begin in Sukasana (easy posy/criss-cross apple sauce)

1. Start by taking a nice inhale, about 80% of full capacity

2. Quickly and actively, emphasis the exhale for a quick second

3. Let the inhale come naturally, then go right back into quickly and actively emphasizing the exhale for another quick second

REPEAT 30-60 times. This is one round, I like to do 3, but you can do as many as you’d like!

Agnisara Dhauti – Fire Wash

Agnisara Dauti is the third of the Four Purification’s.

Angi means fire.

Sara means energy, essence, or cascade.

Dhauti means purification, and stems from the root word ‘dhoo’ which means ‘to wash.’

While practicing Agnisara Dhauli, we are actively stimulating and cleansing our abdominal organs. This practice helps with digestion and lower back back pain. I like to think of it as almost massaging your spine with your navel, and waking up your digestive track.

In this technique, you are exhaling all of your air and holding, while dynamically contracting your core muscles. Avoid practicing if you have high or low blood pressure, or any show any signs of lightheadedness. Do not practice this right after eating. I recommend practicing in the morning before breakfast, to increase energy and avoid discomfort from a full belly. Do not practice if pregnant. Agnisara Dhauti can cause and increase in blood flow for women menstruating, take precaution.

Technique:

Exhale all of your air and hold breath out. Pull your diaphragm/navel toward your backbone, and release, repeating rapidly.

Begin in Sukasana (easy posy/criss-cross apple sauce) OR standing with your slightly knees bent, arms straight/resting upon knees, head and chest lifted.

1. Exhale all of your air and hold

2. Suck your navel in as far as you can, reaching for your spine

3. Let go suddenly

4. Immediately suck your navel back in as far as your can

REPEAT as long as you can, avoiding strain (usually 25-50 pulls), then inhale gently. This is one round, I like to do 3, but you can do as many as you’d like!

Ashwini Mudra – Horse Mudra

Ashwini Murda is the final of the Four Purification’s.

Ashwa means horse.

Mudra means sign or gesture.

While practicing Ashwini Mudra, you are strengthening the muscles of you rectum, bladder, and in females cases, your vagina. Ashwini Mudra uses your abdominal muscles to contract your anal sphincter, therefore engaging your core. Try to square you pelvis.

In this technique, you are inhaling completely and holding. Do not practice if you have high or low blood pressure, or any show any signs of lightheadedness. Do not practice if pregnant. Ashwini Mudra can cause and increase in blood flow for women menstruating, take precaution.

Technique:

Inhale all of your air completely and hold, then quickly contract your anal sphincter repeatedly. Keep doing as long as you can, so that you can still release your breath with ease and control.

Begin in Sukasana (easy posy/criss-cross apple sauce)

1. Inhale all of your air and hold
2. Continuously and rapidly flex and let go of your anal sphincter (your poop muscles to be blunt – I had not idea what this meant a first so I’m literally just trying to help, LOL)
3. Proceed with this as long as possible, allowing yourself space to release your breath slowly

REPEAT as many rounds as you’d like, I usually prefer 3!

Ujjayi Breath -Victorious Breath

I like to refer to Ujjayi Breath as ‘oceanic breath.’

Uj means upwards or superiority in rank.

Jaya means conquest, victory, triumph, or success.

Ujjayi Breath is a cleansing, meditative breath, that reminds me of ocean waves. It is very relaxing, yet energizing at the same time, as you are breathing in new, fresh oxygen to replenish your cells. While practicing Ujjayi Breath, you breathe slowly. This sends calming signals to the brain, which soothing the nervous system. This type of breathing can help break of phlem built up in your lungs, helping clear out toxins from the body.

In this technique, you are are creating a small breathing passage for your throat. Do not practice if you show any signs of lightheadedness.

Technique:

Creating a small passage in the back of your throat, slowly and deeply breath in so that you feel the coolness of the air on the roof of your palate. Fill your lungs and hold. Exhale slow and steadily.

Begin in Sukasana (easy posy/criss-cross apple sauce), laying on your back (someone people love to do this is Shavasana), or in any pose you’d like to go deeper or hang out in (I love doing this breath in Down Dog.)

1. Have your tongue comfortably touching the roof of your mouth, and create a small passage in the back of your throat
2. Slowly inhale, feeling the cool air brush up again the back of your palate/beginning of your throat passage
3. Allow your lungs to expand completely, then hold your breath at the top for a second or two
4. Exhale slowly, letting your lungs completely empty out, and hold for a second or two

REPEAT for as long as you’d like. Allow yourself to get lost in its calming effects, and ride out the wave!

Samavrtti -Equal Part Breathing

Samavritti is often referred to as Box Breathing.

Sama means same, identical, straight entire, whole, complete.

Vrtti means action, movement, whirlpool.

Samavrtti helps settle the mind and body from fluctuations, making it easier to focus. Samavrtti helps calm the brain, preparing it for meditation. It also helps with balance, both on and off the mat. A steady brain leads to a steady physical body, which often times leads to making healthier, more conscious choices throughout the day.

Technique:

Begin in Sukasana (easy posy/criss-cross apple sauce), or a supine (laying down position.)

Samavrtti is referred to as Box Breathing because you are breathing in 4 equal parts. For example, inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds. *Tip: count ‘1, 2, 3, 4, ‘ in your head for each of the four parts of the breath.

1. Inhale for 4 counts
2. Hold for 4 counts
3. Exhale for 4 counts
4. Hold for 4 counts

REPEAT for as long as you’d like.

Visamavrtti – Unequal Ratio Breathing

Visamavritti breathing is when your inhale and exhale are different lengths.

Visama means rough, unsmooth, irregular.

Vrtti means action, movement, whirlpool.

Visamavrtti helps refocus the mind. If your inhale is longer than your exhale, this breathing technique has energetic effects on the body. If your exhale is longer than your inhale, it has calming/cooling effects.

Technique:

The most common ratio for Visamavrtti breathing is 1:4:2:1 – inhaling 1 part, holding 4 parts, exhaling 2 parts, and holding 1 part.

1 part can equal number of seconds you choose. In this case, we are going to use 2 seconds per part.

Begin in Sukasana (easy posy/criss-cross apple sauce), or a supine (laying down position.)

1. Inhale for 2 seconds *count 1, 2 in your head
2. Hold for 8 seconds *count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 in your head
3. Exhale for 4 seconds *count 1, 2, 3, 4 in your head
4. Hold for 2 seconds *count 1, 2 in your head

REPEAT for as long as you’d like.

The Breath of Joy!

I saved the best for last! This is my all time favorite yogic breathing technique.

I honestly do not know the Sanskrit name for the Breath of Joy, but I do know that prana means breath or life force energy, and ananda means joy. So we can call it Prana Ananada, right? (:

I just can’t leave this breath out. It is so invigorating, like an immediate burst of energy. This breath involves movement of your arms and shoulders, and it just makes me feel so light and refreshed afterwards. I love doing this after sitting hunched over at a computer for long hours.

Do not practice if you feel dizzy or lightheaded, and there are some short breaths, as well as up and down movements.

Technique:

There are 4 breath parts in this technique; 3 short, vigorous inhales, and 1 forceful exhale. I kind of think as the 3 inhales as one, and the exhale differently.

For the first inhale you extend your arms out in front of you, filling your breath capacity about 1/3 of the way. For the second inhale you extend your arms long out to the side, continuing to fill your lung capacity about 2/3 of the way.  For the third inhale you extend your arms above head, completely filling your breath capacity. Finally, forcefully and audibly exhale, making a ‘ha’ sound, while dropping your arms, and allowing your back and knees to bend and release.

Begin standing straight, feet about hip width distance apart, or a little more – whatever is most comfortable for you.

1. Exhale all of your air
2. Inhale vigorously about 1/3 of the way, extend your arms long out in front of you (about shoulder height)
3. Immediately inhale about 2/3 of the way, extend your arms out long to the side (about shoulder height)
4. Immediately inhale the rest of the way, extending your arms up above head (keeping arms in line with shoulders)
5. Exhale, making a ‘ha’ sound, while folding over, letting your arms drop, and knees generously bend

REPEAT – I usually do 3 to 10 rounds.

Seriously guys, SO good. I LOVE the Breath of Joy!

Let Me Know…

how you feel after practicing some of the techniques. Also, let me know what your favorites are! Whether they are on this list or not. Let’s chat! 🙂

namaste-redhead-cartoon

Resources:

Light On Yoga B.K.S. Iyengar
Heart Of Yoga T.K.V. Desikachar
http://yogapedia.com/
https://www.shabdkosh.com/

Yoga Sequence Builder (Affiliate)

8 Comments

  • AJ

    I have to say, I find this fascinating. I will try this. I’ve never been one to do yoga, but this got my interest. 40x is gonna take a bit, but I can do it. How long have you been doing Yoga?

    • Hi AJ,

      Yay! So glad you found these techniques interesting and worth a shot! You can totally do it! And please let me know if you have any questions. 🙂

      Yoga came into my life about 5 years ago, during a difficult relationship time. That relationship has been released, but yoga has never left my life! And it never will, that’s for sure!

      Thanks for connecting today, stay in touch!

      Namaste,
      Courtney Sunshine

  • Hi,

    I have been practicing yoga for over four years now. People take for granted the most basic thing we do and thats breathe.

    Doing various breathing exercises Can really give you a mental clarity and sense of calm if done on a regular basis.
    More people should take the time To stop and simply breathe.

    Namaste

    • Hey there,

      So true! It really is the little things sometimes. Paying attention to your breath does so much for your overall well being. Stress and anxiety levels often decrease, leading to more overall happiness! So glad yoga has made it’s way into your life. (:

      Namaste,
      Courtney Sunshine

  • John

    Thanks for the informative post. I like the details you give. It makes it easy to try out the techniques that you mentioned.

    • Hi John,

      I’m glad you found value in my post! And SO glad these techniques were understandable. Videos are coming soon too, for even more clarification!

      Let me know if you do have any questions at all, I’m more than happy to help. 🙂

      Namaste,
      Courtney Sunshine

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