5 Easy Pranayama (Breathing Exercises) for a Healthier You

“Pranayama” is an ancient yogic art of becoming aware of your breath, controlling and extending it to attain holistic wellness. The word ‘Pranayama’ is derived by combining two Sanskrit words ‘prana’ means life-force and ‘ayama’ meaning to extend or draw out the breath. Basically, pranayama is part of ancient yoga that teaches you to extend your breath in different ways for healing your soul, mind, and body.

Before we start discussing its health benefits, let’s understand 5 common types of pranayama exercises and the steps involved.

A cycle of any pranayama technique involves three simple steps-

Step1- Puraka or inhalation-It is the first step of the process, which involves deep and slow inhalation. During this process, you inhale enough oxygen followed by its retention.

Step2- Kumbhaka or retention-This step involves holding your breath or retention of the inhaled oxygen, which enables your body to acquire it.

Step 3- Rechaka or exhalation-The last step of the process is called rechaka or exhalation, which is done through your lungs and abdomen. In this process, your body flushes out many toxins along with the exhaled breath.

Five Pranayama Techniques that are Worth Trying-

Anulom Vilom Pranayama

It is also known as ‘nadi shodhana pranayama’ or ‘alternate nostril pranayama’. Regular practice of this technique boosts your energy levels, curtails stress, and can even reduce depression. It is best to perform this exercise during early hours in a fresh environment.

Steps-

  1. Sit comfortably on the ground.
  2. Now, block the left nostril with your thumb and inhale from the right nostril. Then, block your right nostril with index and middle fingers and exhale from the left nostril.
  3. Again, block the right nostril and inhale from the left nostril. Then, block the left nostril and release the air with the right nostril. Repeat the process.

Perform up to 10 cycles of this exercise and notice the change. It relaxes your body and calms your mind. 

Bhastrika Pranayama-

Other names for Bhastrika Pranayamaare ‘Bellows breath’ or ‘Deep Breathing’. This pranayama involves deep breathing with both nostrils to provide the maximum amount of oxygen to your body.

Steps-                

  1. Sit on the ground and take a comfortable position.
  2. Take a deep breath through both nostrils and hold it for a few seconds.
  3. Exhale the air through both nostrils with a hissing sound. Repeat the process.

Kapalbhati Pranayama-

Kapalbhati pranayama is believed to possess miraculous effects on the digestive system and helps in curing stomach-related disorders. Practitioners of Kapalbhati pranayama revealed that it cures abdominal bloating, helps clear mucus in the air passages and relieves congestion as well.

Steps-

  1. Sit on the ground with folded legs. Keep your back straight and close your eyes.
  2.  Rest your hands on the knees.
  3. Now, take a deep breath until your lungs are filled with air.
  4. Thereafter, exhale through both nostrils with high force, so your stomach goes deep inside.
  5. Repeat the process.

Bhramari Pranayama-

Brahmari pranayama derived its name from a black bee called Bhramari. It is an excellent breathing technique that improves your mental health by reducing stress, anxiety and depression. It soothes your mind and enables you to ward off worries and tensions.

Steps-

  1. Sit on the ground and cross your legs.
  2. Place your index fingers on the forehead and close your eyes with the rest of the fingers.
  3. Take a deep and slow breath.
  4. Now, exhale through both the nostrils by making a humming sound of ‘hmmm’. Don’t forget to keep your lips closed while making the sound.
  5. Repeat the process.

Sheetali Pranayama-

Sheetali pranayama is one of the coolest breathing exercises. It is named Sheetali for its cooling effect. Besides, it makes a great exercise for those dealing with stress and anxiety.

Steps-

  1. Sit on the ground and take a comfortable position.
  2. Keep your back straight, rest hands on the knees and close your eyes.
  3. Make a puckered circle with your lips, stick out the tongue and roll its edges inwards to form a tube.
  4. Now, inhale slowly through the tube and hold your breath.
  5. Exhale through both the nostrils. Repeat the process.

Health benefits of Pranayama-

Pranayama is a vital component of ancient yoga that keeps a check on your body functions and protects you from various ailments. Here is a list of health benefits associated with these breathing exercises-

  • Relieves stress, depression and anxiety.
  • Purifies blood and improves circulation
  • Keeps heart healthy
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Cures digestive problems
  • Detoxifies body
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Cleanses lungs and tissues
  • Improves concentration
  • Empowers mind
  • Helps in weight management
  • Reduces oxidative stress
  • Prevents respiratory disorders
  • Increases life
  • Clears nasal passages
  • Normalize blood pressure
  • Strengthens lymphatic system

Best time to do Pranayama

Morning is considered as the best time for doing pranayama as the oxygen content in the air is relatively high during this time. In addition, you are more energetic in the morning as compared to any other time of the day.

We hope you find the information useful and interesting. So, get ready to practice pranayama every day and reap its health benefits. Enjoy a healthy life!

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