Pranayama, which translates to “control of the life force,” is a breathing practice in yoga that helps to regulate the breath and improve physical and mental well-being. Pranayama is an integral part of traditional yoga practice and there are several types of pranayamas that can be practised. In this article, we will explore some of the most commonly practised pranayamas and their benefits.
1. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Nadi Shodhana is a Sanskrit word that means “purification of the channels.” This pranayama involves breathing through alternate nostrils. It helps to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain and calm the mind. It is also known to reduce stress, anxiety, and blood pressure.
To practice Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your back straight. Use your right thumb to close your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril. Then, use your right ring finger to close your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril. Continue this pattern, inhaling through your right nostril and exhaling through your left nostril.
2. Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath)
Bhramari Pranayama is a calming pranayama that involves making a humming sound while exhaling. The sound is said to stimulate the vagus nerve, which helps to calm the mind and reduce stress.
To practice Bhramari Pranayama, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your back straight. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in. Then, place your index fingers on your ears and press gently. Exhale slowly while making a humming sound like a bee. Repeat several times.
3. Kapalbhati Pranayama (Skull-Shining Breath)
Kapalbhati Pranayama is a breathing technique that involves forceful exhalation through the nose. It is believed to improve digestion, boost metabolism, and detoxify the body.
To practice Kapalbhati Pranayama, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your back straight. Take a deep breath in and exhale forcefully through your nose while pulling your belly button towards your spine. Inhale passively and exhale forcefully again. Repeat several times.
4. Ujjayi Pranayama (Ocean Breath)
Ujjayi Pranayama is a deep breathing technique that involves breathing through the nose while constricting the back of the throat. It is known to improve concentration, calm the mind, and regulate blood pressure.
To practice Ujjayi Pranayama, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your back straight. Inhale deeply through your nose while constricting the back of your throat. Exhale through your nose while keeping the throat constricted. Repeat several times.
5. Sitali Pranayama (Cooling Breath)
Sitali Pranayama is cooling pranayama that involves breathing in through the mouth and exhaling through the nose. It is believed to reduce body heat and calm the mind.
To practice Sitali Pranayama, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your back straight.