“Prana” means life in Sanskrit and “Ayama” means stretching. The breathing exercises to infuse our body with live giving air is called Pranayama. It is an exercise done with the right mindset to achieve maximum benefits. As air flows into our lungs from where it is picked up by blood flowing into each and every cell, this exercise has a various health benefits. Enhancement of metabolism is one of the benefit which in turn acts to reduce weight, bring glow to our skin and enhancing our overall well-being.
As part of wellness for millennial, understanding the various breathing techniques become noteworthy. I thought it appropriate to bring it out here something which has been practiced for ages. Here, we discuss the types of breathing exercises. All these breathing exercises must be done in a calm environment and when you are relatively free of worldly clutter. Start slow as this might prove to be strenuous in the beginning. To not force air to uncomfortable limits. Be patient when you begin and gradually you will be adept at it.
However, you must not attempt any of these if you suffer from any other complications like hypertension, breathing problems, heart-problems or pregnancy and you must take your physician’s opinion before performing any of them below. It is also not recommended to practice breathing exercises on a full stomach.
This is the most basic of the breathing exercise. Practice of this pranayama has calming effect on mind and body. It is a must-do after doing the next two breathing exercises below or after a strenuous work-out. This breathing exercise is more about entering your inner-world and spending time in self-realization.
The most popular of this breathing exercise is “Shavasana” or the pose of a corpse. You lie down at ease with both hands on the floor. The idea of this exercise is to be calm. Inhale and hold the breath inside for a few seconds and then exhale. Concentrate on the inhalation and exhalation. This must be done in the most calm way as possible. Keep counting your breath if you are a starter.
You can continue for 10 minutes inhaling and exhaling. Be careful to rise slowly. This is a simple breathing exercise supplying our whole body with vital oxygen besides calming our mind. Hence, it is best to practice to shed away your worries and before sleeping.
Deep breathing is practiced to calm your whole body, improve concentration and enrich the body to maximum extent with life-giving oxygen. There are various variations to this exercise and we will discuss the simplest one of them.
It is termed as Anulom Vilom Pranayama in Sanskrit and is a breathing exercise done in sitting upright position with both legs folded. Press one nostril with your thumb and inhale deep through the other nostril. Hold your breath inside for a few seconds and then exhale via the other nostril after releasing the thumb and pressing other nostril by your thumb. Then change directions with inhalation via the other nostril as continue. Continue for at least twenty counts to see yourself full of freshness.
This breathing exercise is extremely effective in calming the body. It can be practiced at any time of the day but practiced during evenings would give a good night’s sleep.
The peak of simple breathing exercise is fast breathing. These exercise invigorates the body and builds lung capacity. It also works to provide warmth in cold seasons.
The best known fast breathing exercise is Kapal Bharti Pranayama or the Shining Skull. It is practiced in sitting position with legs folded forward or best posture is with legs tucked under the body just like Muslims offering prayer. Take a deep breath through both nostrils. Exhale fully while pulling your navel back. The inhaling must be brief while exhalation must be until the maximum stretch you can pull your navel towards your spine. Continue doing this repeatedly for at least 15 counts to begin with then gradually increase the count to 30.
This breathing exercise fills your body with energy and works best to freshen up in the mornings. It warms the body quickly when facing cold climate and thereby keeps many diseases at bay.
Breathing exercises have an innumerable number of health benefits both to the body and mind. Calming the nerves is evident once you practice the first two breathing exercises. Besides, it enhances metabolism and works to detox the body. It is claimed to reduce hypertension as well. It enhances lung capacity cleaning the air passage of mucus formation.
The best benefit I gained was through the fast breathing exercise of Kapal Bharti which helped me control my pot-belly. It worked well to keep my weight in control without any strenuous exercises or following any particular diet plan.
Breathing indicates we are alive. We breathe involuntarily all the time be it walking, sitting or sleeping without paying much heed to it. However, when we concentrate on this basic function of ours, we reap great benefits. The focus here has been to open the world of such breathing techniques to everyone looking for wellness specially the working millennial.
Breathing exercises have been followed for centuries in various cultures of the world. You would appreciate this if you practice the world-popular Karate or have seen anybody practice it. Breathing exercises are a must when practicing Karate. And it is well-known to develop concentration in the practitioner.
Yoga has documented many forms of these breathing exercises. It might look complicated to the uninitiated in the beginning but practice over time will make it look quite simple. A simple sigh at the end of the day is great breathing exercise to begin with.
I encourage you to practice the simple variants as described above to quickly observe enhancement in your well-being. Would love to hear from you a to how you feel practicing them. To spread the word if you see any benefits for yourself by submitting your comment in the comment box below.
16 Replies to “Pranayama for Wellbeing”
What a great post on breathing and simple exercises that one can easily do in the comfort of your home.
I have never come across the deep breathing where you only use your one nostril at a time, so will be trying that. I can see how the fast breathing can help you to control your stomach muscles, because you have to pull in your belly button, which means you are tightening the tummy muscles when you breath out.
I will definitely be using these techniques.
Thanks for you encouraging comments. Yes, fast breathing helps in controlling stomach muscles which I an personally vouch for. Good luck to you in trying out these breathing exercises.
Great, exercise is something that should be done regularly in order to keep fit, exercising helps in many ways, i have not heard of pranayama before but it sounds easy and fun to do and it van be carried out at home, i like this simple exercise especially the deep breathing, i will definitely try it and also recommend it, Thanks Rohit
Thanks for your comment.
Pranayama has been found to be effective in both calming the mind and body as well as filling it with vigor. All the Best to you in trying it yourself.
I am a bit into breathing techniques from practicing martial arts (Karate) for several years. Your description of breathing exercises is a good resource that I can use to develop my training routines further.
Some years ago I had trouble sleeping. I research the Internet to find a solution to my sleeping problems and came over an article about an easy breathing technique that could be helpful. It consisted of breathing in and out with only 4 cycles. The in-breath should last for about 4 seconds, hold the breath for a couple of seconds, then breathe out evenly for the duration of 8 to 10 seconds.
This technique helped a lot. It calmed me down before sleeping and I fell quickly to sleep afterwards and slept quite peacefully.
Do you recognize the described technique I have been using? Do you think it is a good technique?
Thanks for your comments and sharing your experience which worked well with the breathing technique.
Yes, the method you describe is close to what is prescribed in Savasana- the pose of a corpse. It is a slow breathing exercise where you consciously breathe in and out at a slow pace concentrating fully on your breath. this calms the mind and body and is said to be a good cure for insomnia.
Glad that you asked that question.
I have been searching for a practice that focuses our awareness on our breathing. I read another article recently that emphasised the clear connection between our breathing and our anxiety levels. It made me aware of how shallow my breathing is, even when I think I am relaxed. With breathing being so essential to life, it’s crazy to think that we go through most of our life not even being aware of it. Your article has increased my knowledge of the Pranayama practice, and it is one I will be giving consideration to as I search for a way to develop a calmer mind. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for your comments Ray,
Pranayama is the name of breathing exercise focussed on extending it to all parts of our body. All the best for practicing this regularly and see the effect on your wellness.
I loved the potential benefits of the whole thing. Hence, something I would love to try.
Quiet breathing sounds like the kind of thing I absolutely need right now. I mean, I’ve been quite on the edge recently. It hasn’t been easy, even more so because of the pandemic and all craziness related to how that’s going right now. Anything that can get my mind off worries and envigorate is my kind of thing. Also, it truly does sound like something that would be awesome before sleep.
Speaking of that, I will try the deep breathing as well. As for fast breathing, I’m really excited about that. More energy is always something I’m up for. 🙂
Awesome, awesome stuff. Thank you.
Thanks for your comments Matiss,
Fast breathing invigorates you besides other health benefits you will observe through regular practice – namely controlling your tummy fat.
All the Best to you for trying out different breathing exercises for yourself.
Thank you for bringing back to my mind the importance of breathing which we often tend to forget. I have a yoga block and know that breathing together with the various exercises will enhance the experience. You have very well explained simple breathing exercises which everyone can do and which will not take too much time but the effect is has on our health and well being are widely underestimated. Thank you again, very well done!
Thanks for your comments and encouraging words,
Yes, breathing exercises are often put on a back-stage against various forms of physical work-out. Most of the time under-estimating the benefits they can bring to our life and wellness.
Thank you so much for sharing us an interesting and informative article. The main content of this article is to stay healthy through breathing. It is really laudable that you have illustrated this topic so well in your article. We need breathing to sustain our lives and we can keep ourselves healthy by practicing this breathing.
The variety of breathing exercises discussed in this article and its benefits are really great.I also practice it to keep myself well. Relieve anxiety by doing Deep Breathing when I get very anxious. When I do this exercise my mind and body are refreshed and I can concentrate on work soon.
So I would say that those who suffer from anxiety or any other problem can benefit by practicing breathing in yoga style. Finally, I enjoyed reading your article and so I’d like to share your article in my Facebook group if you allow me.
Thanks for your comments and encouraging words. Yes, please do share to as many people you can. Breathing exercises are the most over-looked in terms of wellness practices. I hope that more and more people become aware of these techniques and lead a life full of wellness.
What a wonderful post. I’m definitely going to be trying these breathing techniques. It really does helps you center yourself and with toning. The way you have explained everything makes trying these breathing techniques.
You’re going to everyone wanting to connect with their higher self. One must be ready to enter peace and tranquility. I’m excited about trying this out. I can use this before starting my day and before bed. Again, thank you for this.
Thanks for your comments and sharing your experience with breathing techniques.
Wish you all the best for trying out these breathing techniques for leading a life full of wellness.