Pranayama overview

Below is a table of all the types of pranyama (breathing) practices in yoga and their benefits. Some can be combined as indicated.
Sanskrit English
Natural breath

  • Sit down in a comfortable place assuming a cross legged position
  • Take a few slow breaths before each practice as a preparation


BENEFITS·       Concentration on the breath improves vitality and well-being. There is an intimate connection between breath, nerves and prana or vital life force.
· Practicing pranayama is a good preparation for meditation. It calms the mind and soothes the nervous system.
Yogic breath
(Mahatma eath)
Deep Breathing · Inhale silently from the bottom of your lungs (raise your belly)to the top(open your shoulders)·       Breathing should be smooth like the swell of the sea·  Exhale from the top to the bottom of lungs and hold breath at the end of each exhalation for a few seconds · Raises awareness of clavicular, thoracic and diaphragmatic breathing.
· Expands lung capacity
Nadi Shodana Alternate nostril Breathing
  • Place index and middle finger on brumadya use your thumb (right hand) to close the right side of your nose (Nasagra mudra) Inhale deeply using the left nostril
  • Now close the left nostril and exhale using the right one
  • In the same way, now with the left nostril still closed, inhale using the right nostril and exhale with left nostril
· Psychic network purification.
· Balances and harmonizes Ida & Pingala as well as both brain hemispheres. Tranquilizing effect.
· Breathing through the left activates the right brain hemisphere. Breathing through the right activates the left brain hemisphere.
·  Don’t extend breath length too far with people who are depressed, have heart problems or high BP.
Sheetkari Hissing breath · Separate lips, clench your teeth and press the tongue against the teeth.
·Breathe in. Close your mouth and breathe out normally through the nostrils.
·Cools the body/ tranquilizes
· Controls hunger and thirst and generates feelings of satisfaction.
·Don’t do when sensitive teeth.
Sheetali Cooling breath · Sheet means cool,·       Open your mouth in a “o” shape and curl your tongue if able, start to inhale through the mouth. Close mouth when lungs are filled and exhale through nose·       Advanced with antar kumbhaka. · Cools the body/tranquilizes·       Controls hunger and thirst and generates feelings of satisfaction.
· Not when sensitive teeth.
· Not when cold or in polluted environment.
Bhramari Humming bee Breath ·   Use index finger to plug ears·  Close lips and mouth lightly·       Bring awareness to Brumadya· Inhale through the nose·       Exhale while humming steadily and smoothly
· The vibrations of hum make the front of the skull vibrate.
· Relieves stress and tension anger anxiety and insomnia.
· Vibrations are soothing.
· Increases the healing capacity of the body.
· Not when lying down or when suffering from ear infections
Ujjayi Psychic Breath · Constrict your throat when breathing through the nose. Pretend you are whispering with your mouth closed. The sound should be audible, like a baby snoring.·  Both inhalation and exhalation should be long, deep and controlled.
·Ujjayi means victorious.
· Ujjayi gives freedom from bondage and is used frequently in Yoga as a meditative technique.
· Can be practiced in conjunction with Nadi Shodana.·       Advanced with Antar Kumbhaka
· Soothes the nervous system.
·  Calms the mind.· Aids concentration
· Benefits insomniacs·       Slows heart rate, helpful to people with high BP
· Expands lung capacity
· Aids the oxygenation and expelling of toxins on cellular level
·  No Bandhas or breath retention with people who suffer from heart disease
Bhastrika Bellows BreathAwareness at Manipura ·  Inhale and exhale forcefully, using your diaphragm.
·The force and length of each inhalation and exhalation are equal.
·   Can be practiced in conjunction with Nadi Shodana.
· Advanced with Antar Kumbhaka and or Bahir Kumbhaka
· Balances the doshas by burning toxins· Good preparation for child birth.
· Increases O and CO2 exchange, producing heat.
· Stimulates metabolic rate and stimulates, tones the digestive system.
· Helps alleviate inflammation of the throat·  Balances and strengthens the nervous system
·  Not when gastric ulcer, high BP, stroke, epilepsy, retinal problems, glaucoma, asthma, TB, hernia, heart disease, lung disease,1st trimester of pregnancy
Kapalabhati Frontal brain cleansing BreathAwareness is at Brumadya ·  Exhale forcefully through both nostrils. Contract belly muscles.· Inhale passively, allow belly to relax.·  Exhale forcefully again and continue doing this for about 10 breaths.
· Can be practiced in conjunction with Nadi Shodana.
· It reverses the normal breathing process, which involes active inhalation and passive exhalation.
· Profound effect on the nervous system.
·Not when gastric ulcer, high BP, stroke, epilepsy, retinal problems, glaucoma, asthma, TB, hernia, heart disease, lung disease, pregnancy.
Moorcha Swooning BreathAwareness at Brumadya ·  Adopt kechari mudra (tongue lock)·       Slowly inhale with ujjayi breath while slowly tipping head slightly back.·       Perform shambhavi mudra (eyebrow gazing)
· Lock elbows, press hands on knees, retain breath for a s long is comfortable.
· On exhalation relax arms and body, close eyes drop mudras.
· Alleviates tension anger neurosis and raises level of prana.
·Brings about mental tranquility.
· Not when suffering brain, vascular, heart or BP disorders.
Surya Bheda Vitality Stimulating Breath(Right Nostril Breath) · Adopt Nasagara mudra and close left nostril
· 10 rounds are sufficient for beginners
· Creates heat and balances the koshas.·       Awakens Pingala Nadi.
· Alleviates depression and lethargy.
· Makes the mind more alert and perceptive.
· Never after eating.
·Not when gastric ulcer, stomach problems, high BP, stroke, epilepsy, retinal problems, glaucoma, asthma, TB, hernia, heart disease, lung disease.
VILOMA PRANAYAMA Interrupted breath’Vi’ means against, Loma means hair, viloma means against the natural flow. · ‘Viloma‘ means against the natural order of things. In viloma pranayama, inhalation or exhalation is done with several pauses.
· Ujjayi breath is used in this practice
· Pauses are introduced either at Pooraka or Rechaka. Retentions can be short or long.
· The rhythms should always remain smooth, no force is used.
· Raises awareness of all sections of lungs, clavicular, thoracic and diaphragmatic breath.
· Expands lung capacity
· Aids concentration