Pranayama is to control the breath or prana. Our body is a vital life force. It is a Sanskrit word that means ‘Prana’- ‘Breath or Vital energy’ and ‘Ayama’- ‘Control’. Through breathing, we carry the most important component ‘Oxygen’ throughout the body and through Pranayama practice, we control the breath for balancing the body and mind to gain health and energy. According to Sage Patanjali in Yoga Sutra, it is mentioned that practicing pranayama helps to attain a higher state of awareness.
There are around fourteen Pranayama techniques to practice, each with its own significance and set of benefits. But as per Hatha yoga, there are about eight types of Pranayama for keeping the body and mind healthy.
And to maintain a holistic balance, here are the two most effective Yoga breathing exercises for you to try:
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama or Anulom Vilom
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is also known as Anulom Vilom or Alternate Nostril Breathing. One of the easiest yoga breathing techniques, Anulom Vilom helps to balance the chakras, channels, mind, and the overall health. In this breathing practice, a person inhales from the right nostril and exhales from the left, and then inhales from the left nostril and exhales from the right.
The Right nostril is Pingala Nadi (Sun) and Left is Ida Nadi (Moon). This pranayama technique purifies the body and mind and brings in balance. It also balances the physical and mental energy of a person.
- Sit on the floor in Sukhasana pose with relaxed shoulders and erect spine.
- Now put your left hand on your lap or on the knee in Chin Mudra- palm facing upward with the thumb and index finger touching each other at the tips.
- Now place the thumb of your right hand on the right nostril, index, and middle finger in between the eyebrows, and ring finger on the left nostril.
- Now close your left nostril and inhale from the right. Hold the breath, and now close the right nostril and exhale from the left.
- Now breathe in from the left and breathe out from the right nostril. Continue the process for at least five minutes.
Kapalbhati Pranayama is also known as the breath of fire or skull shining breathing technique. This is one of the best Pranayama breathing exercises when it comes to removing toxins from the body and helps in balancing the hormones. It also helps to provide mental clarity, clears nadis, calms the mind, reduces weight, and increases metabolic rate. Practicing Kapalbhati not only helps with balancing the mind and body but also balances and stabilizes the emotions.
- Sit on the floor in Sukhasana pose with an erect spine and place your hands on the knees.
- Now take a deep breath and as you breathe out, pull your stomach inwards.
- Pull it as much as you can. As you contract and relax the navel and abdomen, the breath starts flowing into your lungs automatically.
- You need to breathe in and out evenly from both the nostrils. Inhalation should be passive while exhalation should be powerful.
- Do the process for 5-10 minutes.
You can also practice Ujjayi Pranayama (Ocean Breath) and Shitali Pranayama (Cooling Breath) for the body balancing.
Pranayama practice consists of a lot of benefits. Learning and practicing this science under the guidance of an expert would help to understand the techniques more efficiently. This doubles up the benefits. Engage in breath yoga exercises and balance the life and health.