Pranayama is the practice of breath regulation in yoga. It involves three main steps, inhalation, exhalation, and retention of breath with varying patterns. When you do this in harmony with Surya namaskar steps and other yoga classes, the health benefits of pranayama are unlimited. Meaning of pranayamaIn Sanskrit, prana means breath. Ayama means control. The rough translation of pranayama is breath control.
Benefits of pranayama
Pranayama acts as a bridge between your body and mind. One of the studies suggests it improves the overall health of the body and mind. Things to be considered before doing pranayama Practice early mornings or before meals, in peaceful environments with fresh air. Many sources give information on types of pranayama with pictures. But learn from an experienced guru before practising on your own. All the different types of pranayama are not suitable for everyone. Beware of the exercises which adversely affect your existing health issues. It is advised to start pranayama after practicing yoga asanas for a few months.
Types of Pranayama
There are many types of pranayam, each designed to enhance the health and functions of different parts of the body. Below is the list of pranayama with varying pranayam steps and health benefits.
1. Dirga Pranayama - Three-part breath
It is one of the basic types of pranayama, which is best suited for beginners as it corrects irregular breathing habits. Steps Lay down on your back or sit in a comfortable position. Take normal breaths and relax your body. Take a slow deep breath, feel as it fills the abdomen region. Observe as it continues to expand the chest region. Finally, experience the breath-expanding neck region. When the breath is full, slowly exhale in the reverse direction. Observe the air emptying from the neck, then the chest, and finally abdominal region. Repeat this cycle for nest 10-20 breaths. Benefits It relaxes and readies your mind for meditation.
2. Nadi shodhana pranayama - chanal cleaning breath
It is one of the best alternative nostril breathing types of pranayama. It brings balance to the three doshas of the human body. Steps Take the proper posture. Close the right nostril with the right thumb, inhale and exhale through the left nostril. Now release the right nostril and close the left nostril with the right pinky finger. Inhale and exhale through right nostrils. Repeat this set 10 rounds. Benefits It improves respiratory and cardiovascular health. As per the study, it reduces stress and anxiety.
3. Anuloma Viloma Pranayama - Against the waves
It is one of the well-known types of pranayama. In this exercise, pranayam steps involve alternative nostrils breathing along with the retention of breath. StepsTake the pranayama posture.Exhale the air with both the nostrils.Close the right nostril, inhale the air through the left nostril for 4 counts.Close your left nostril. Hold the breath for the count of 16Open your right nostril and exhale the air for the count of 8.Follow the same procedure when you inhale through the right nostril.Repeat this entire process for 5 steps.Benefits This study suggests it helps to heal respiratory issues.It improves the health of the eyes, skin, and cardiovascular system.
4. Surya bhedana pranayama - Right nostril breathing
It is one of the pranayama yoga types, which awakens the kundalini Shakthi. Steps Sit comfortably.Close your left nostril. Slowly inhale and fill the lungs to their full capacity. Close the right nostril, hold the breath for 10 to 15 counts. Release the right nostril and exhale the air through it. Repeat this cycle until you are comfortable doing it. Benefits Doing it before meals helps to improve the digestion process. It helps in Vata-related issues. It replenishes the oxygen in the blood and energies the body.
5. Ujjayi Pranayama - Ocean Breath
It is one of the best cooling types of pranayama. This breathing exercise produces a sound similar to ocean waves. Steps Sit in a cross-legged position. Inhale the air through your mouth and constricted throat producing a hissing sound. Close your mouth. Slowly exhale the air through your nose, keeping your throat constricted. Repeat the cycle until you can do it without any strain. Benefits It detoxifies the body. It helps in controlling high BP, thyroid problems. It soothes and rejuvenates the nervous system.
6. Bhramari Pranayama - Bee Breath
In this exercise, the exhalation sound resembles the humming sound of a bee. Steps Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Close your ears by folding ear flaps inwardly with the thumbs. Rest your index fingers on the eyebrow and the other finger on closed eyes. Now gently apply pressure on the nose from both sides. Keep your concentration on the area between the brows. Breath through your nose while humming the word om in the closed mouth. Repeat this process for 5 minutes. Benefits This study suggests it improves cognitive functions and other benefits. It helps to reduce migraines and improve sleep quality.
7. Sitkari Pranayama - Cooling breath
It is one of the cooling pranayama yoga types, which is more suitable for the summer season. Steps Sit in a comfortable position. Open the mouth, press upper and lower teeth gently. Inhale the air slowly through the gaps of the teeth. Feel the cooling effect of air as it expands the chest and abdomen area. Close the mouth and exhale through nostrils. Repeat the same procedure 10 to 20 times. Benefits This study suggests it lowers BP and has a soothing effect on the nervous system.
8. Bhastrika Pranayama - Bellows breath
It is one of the beginner heating types of pranayama. This pranayama yoga benefits people suffering from Kapha dosha. Steps Sit comfortably. Take a deep breath and forcefully exhale the air with a nasal sound. With a similar force, inhale the air. Feel the air expanding the chest and abdomen region. Repeat the cycle10 times to complete the one set of the exercise. Benefits As per the research, it improves the health of the respiratory system.
9. Kapalabhati Pranayama - Forehead shining breathing
It is one of the pranayama yoga types, which detoxify the entire body. For people suffering from obesity, it will be more effective if performed with weight loss yoga. Steps Sit comfortably. Take a deep breath and feel the expansion of the abdomen region. As you exhale, pull your stomach in towards the spine. As you relax your abdomen, the breath flows into your lungs automatically. Perform 20 cycles to complete 1 set of the exercise. Benefits As per the study, it helps with metabolic syndromes and maybe a solution for the polycystic ovarian syndrome. It boosts the immunity system and energises the nervous system.
10. Simhasana Pranayama - Lion's breath
It is one of the best types of pranayama for a healthy, glowing face. It relieves the tension and stress by stretching the entire face, along with the jaw and tongue. Steps Sit comfortably. Inhale through your nose, exhale by making a ha sound. As you exhale, open your mouth as wide as possible, with your tongue sticking out towards the chin. Inhale and relax the face. Repeat this cycle 20 times. Benefits It exercises the facial muscles, neck, and chest regions. It helps to prevent and manage thyroid-related issues. If you practice any of the types of pranayama regularly for a few minutes, it keeps the diseases away and increases your life span.
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