Do you often find yourself more stressed, defocused, and negative than you intend to be? Welcome to the era of competition and technology!
Yes, yes, yes we know it’s the ‘Survival of the Fittest’ as stated by Darwin. We are in no measure asking you to quit your life and move to the Himalayas to de-stress.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t also imply that you have to live life in such a stressed way!
If you already don’t know it, the practise of Pranayama is one of the simplest and easiest ways to curb these everyday lifestyle gifts and drastically improve the quality of your life.
What is Pranayama
The Unbeatable Stress Management Technique
The yogic practice of controlling your breath is known as Pranayama. The regular practice of Pranayama helps you gain better control over your senses.
There are two philosophies of personal development mentioned in the Yogic Practice-
- Outward or apparently active practices like Asana
- Inward or internal surrendering practices like Meditation
Pranayama is ascertained to be a bridge between these two.
It is a Sanskrit word that consists of two parts- Prana and Yama. Prana means breath, and Yama means control. It helps to withdraw our senses from the outer world through various ways of controlling your breath. The process of continuous breathing emphasizes on deep breaths and focus on the internal energetic manifestation of our outward physical movements. The air we breathe in and out has enormous healing powers as it fills in our lungs better through Pranayama.
The Power of Pranayama
Breathing is living. Pranayama empowers the ‘Prana’ or the ‘Life Force’ in our body. It mysteriously soothes, energies, purifies and harmonizes our mind, body, and soul.
Breath is a source of life. Performing deep and smooth inhalation and exhalation benefits us physically and psychologically. The ‘pranic’ energy going in and out of our body activates our nervous system, which allows our body and mind to rest. Likewise, performing Pranayama in a routine effectively helps in Stress Management.
If you find yourself Stressed- Breathe DEEPLY
If you find yourself anxious- Breathe DEEPLY
If you see negative thoughts haunting you- Breathe DEEPLY
If you need an instant dose of energy- Breathe DEEPLY
This yogic exercise helps you to control the life energy and attain a healthy body and mind. It intakes energy and flushes out waste from our system. Pranayama is associated with retention of breaths in our body, which helps increase its power and distribute it throughout our body.
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
The Pranayama Sequence
Practicing these 5 Pranayamas in a sequence every day can have a multitude of positive outcomes on us.
Bhastrika Pranayama or Bellows Breath
The sluggish feeling after you wake up makes you upset, doesn’t it?
But do you know Bhastrika Pranayama is a highly suitable exercise for neglecting this sluggish feeling?
Yes, you heard it right.
The first in the sequence of Pranayama routine is Bhastrika.
Benefits of Bhastrika Pranayam
Bellows Breath or Bhastrika Pranayama is a powerful breathing technique that helps to-
- Strengthens lungs and helps to cure asthma.
- Helps clean your nadis, nostrils, and sinuses
- Energizes your body and parts away dullness and laziness
- Purifies breath and improves heart health
Not only does it improve the common cold & immune system, but it also brings peace of mind.
Bhastrika Pranayama Steps
- Sit in the lotus position or cross-legged with your back straight
- Take a deep breath filling the air in your lungs, and then breathe out in the same manner. Try doing this a few times.
- Begin to exhale quickly through your nose forcefully and follow it with inhaling the air.
- Remember, the breath should come from your belly, then lungs, and exhale out. Keep the rest of your body still.
- Keep your eyes closed and feel the sensation in your mind and body.
- Repeat this breathing exercise three times, to begin with. You can increase the frequency gradually.
Who Should Avoid Bhastrika Pranayama
- Pregnant women
- If you feel dizzy, then it is better not to do Bellows Breath
- If suffering from hypertension and panic disorder should do it under supervision.
Kapalabhati Pranayama or Skull Shining Breath
Second in the pranayama sequence comes Kapalbhati. Also known as the Skull Shining Breath, it is one of the perfect yogas which not only helps you to lose weight but also balances your entire system.
Kapalbhati is often used interchangeably with Breath of Fire Pranayama but it’s important to note that are some differences between the two techniques.
While both have a plethora of shared benefits like stimulating, detoxifying and firing up the belly, the Breath of Fire gets a special mention in Kundalini as a practice in-length to facilitate other ‘kriyas’ Kapalbhati focuses more on ‘Skull Shining’ or clearing the ‘cobwebs’ of the mind- i.e. giving better clarity.
The main difference is in the length of inhale and the very nature of it. In Breath of Fire, the length of inhale and exhale is equal. However, in Kapalbhati, the inhales are unnoticeable while the exhales are prominent.
According to the renowned yoga teacher Dr. Sejal Shah, Pranayama helps to release 80% toxins from our body through breath. And practising of Kapalbhati detoxifies our whole system. The skull- shining breath exercise gives you a bright intellect with regular practice.
Benefits of Kapalabhati Pranayama
- Improves kidney and liver function
- Increases metabolic rate. Thus, aids in weight loss.
- Clears nadis and stimulates abdominal organs, which is useful for diabetic patients
- Helps get rid of the dark circles around the eyes and reduces eye strain
- Rejuvenates body and improves blood circulation
- Improves digestive tract and eliminates acidity and gas-related problems
- Calms your mind & body and improves memory and concentration power.
How to do Kapalbhati Pranayama
- Sit in a Sukhasana with your spine comfortably erect
- Take a deep breath filling your lungs with air
- As you exhale, pull your stomach towards your spine. Do it comfortably. Place your hand on your belly to feel the muscle contracting.
- As you exhale, relax your navel and abdomen. Your breath will follow from your lungs, and there will be a hissing sound while you do so.
- Take at least 20 such breath exercises in one round of KapalBharti. You may try doing three rounds altogether.
- After completion of all the rounds, relax with your eyes closed, and feel the sensation of your body.
Who Should Avoid Kapalbhati Pranayama
- If you have an artificial pacemaker, then avoid practicing this breathing technique.
- Women should not practice Skull Shining Breathing technique during pregnancy as well as during menstruation.
- If you are under medication, avoid this breathing yoga.
Anulom Vilom or Alternate Nostril Breathing
The third in the sequence is Anuloma Viloma or Alternate Nostril Breathing is a unique yogic technique that involves controlling of subtle Pranic energies. The control of Prana through regular exercise of Anulom Vilom helps to balance the energy which flows from your nadis. The alternative pattern of breathing technique helps to clean, stimulate, and balance your nadis.
We need to calm down and relax our bodies in everyday life due to work pressure. The ancient practice helps you to strengthen your mind with complete relaxation.
Benefits of Anulom Vilom
- It enhances your overall health and relieves depression, stress, and anxiety.
- It is helpful in your respiratory disorders, and doing this breathing exercise eradicated your severe health disorders.
- It reduces arthritis and helps over-coming negative thoughts.
- If you have an eye or ear problem, then Anulom Vilom solves it.
- It aids in weight loss and improves your lung capacity.
How to do Anuloma Viloma
- Sit in a padmasana with your spine straight.
- Your chin should slightly be tucked in towards your check with your eyes closed.
- Place your left palm on your left knee and face upward in a Gyan mudra.
- Lift your right hand and block your right nostril. Now inhale deeply and exhale slowly from your left nostril.
- Repeat the same thing on your left side. Keep your left hand and block your nostril on your left side. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly from your right nostril. Thus it completes one round.
- Do this pranayama 4-5 initially, and then increase it as per your convenience.
Who should avoid Anuloma Viloma
- Pregnant women should do this breathing technique under supervision.
Bhramari Pranayama or Bee Breath
Want an instant destress? Try Bhramari.
The Bee Breath or Bhramari Pranayama is derived from an Indian black bee known as Bhramari.
It is an effective yogic technique to calm your mind. The days you are stressed, do practice this breathing exercise to de-stress quickly. Your mind will soon be free from agitation, frustration or anxiety.
Benefits of Bhramari Pranayama
- Bee Breath exercise treats hypertension and gives instant relief from tension, anger, and anxiety.
- Helps relief in migraine
- Gives comfort when you are feeling too hot during a headache
- Reduces blood pressure and calms nerves
- Improves throat problems and gives a clear voice
The simple technique can be practised anywhere during the day.
Steps to do Bhramari Pranayama
- Sit straight with a position of your choice in a well-ventilated corner with your eyes closed
- Observe your body and keep a gentle smile on your face
- There is a cartilage between your cheeks and ears. Place your index finger on your cartilage
- Take a deep breath in and while exhaling press your cartilage gently
- Make a humming sound similar to a bee while breathing out
- A higher-pitch sound gives you a better result. Continue the same breathing pattern for 3-10 times.
Who Should Avoid Bhramari
Everyone can do this yoga but ensure you don’t put your finger on your ears. It should be on your cartilage.
Learn the technique from a teacher and practice it regularly.
Also known as External Breath, Bahya Pranayama is a powerful breathing technique for stomach organs. As it involves retaining of breath after exhaling, therefore it is called the External Breath exercise.
The word Bahya means external, and it helps to bring kundalini power upward.
The three-step process of inhaling, exhaling, and retaining the breath is a vital breathing technique.
How to do Bahya Pranayama
- Sit straight in padmasana and take a deep breath and exhale completely to clear the air from your lungs.
- Hold your breath while you pull your stomach up under your rib cage such that your stomach and back seem to touch each other.
- Lift your chest towards your jaw and hold this position for 10-15 seconds. Then inhale deeply while releasing your chin and stomach.
- Repeat this five times.
Benefits of Bahya Pranayama
- Cures acidity, constipation, and hernia problem.
- Improves reproductive health for both males and females
- Improves concentration and is effective in diabetes.
- Cures prostate-related problems.
Who Should Avoid Bahya Pranayama
- If you are suffering from a heart problem, cervical colitis, and blood pressure, then you should avoid this breathing exercise.
- Women should not practice this during their period.
General Guidelines for Any Type of Pranayama
Irrespective of the Pranayama you intend to practice be it all together or individually, there are things common to all of them-
- Practice on an empty stomach
- Sit cross-legged with your spine comfortably erect
- Women should avoid during their periods
- Best time to practice is in the morning or evening
- Start small. Increase the frequency gradually
- If possible, start with Asana, then come to Pranayama, and end with Meditation
- Try to maintain a time schedule. Nevertheless, it’s more important to do it.
- In case of an existing medical condition, do seek medical advise before starting your Pranayama practice
Born from the womb of the Sanatan Dharma, the practice of Pranayams is of paramount importance for general well being. Kapalbhati, in particular, is one of the best Pranayams to adhere to even if you are not able to do all of them.
Follow these five Nadi Shudhi Pranayama and get rid of many health disorders with regular practice.
If you find this article helpful, then do share your experience with us. We would love to hear from you!
Sending you healing vibes,