Pranayama refers to the Sanskrit word prana means vital energy and Yama means to control, the practice performed in ancient India, like 700 BCE, ancient. It includes different types of breathing patterns and methods that are scientifically proven to promote both emotional health like anxiety, stress, and concentration and physical health like metabolic, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems.
Here is an instant biology refresh. Our breathing directly impacts the nervous system from the vagus nerve, which governs the fight or flight and relaxation responses also the cardiovascular health, digestive system, and respiratory health.
Pranayama: Deep Breathing Exercises
Table of Contents
Pranayama contains one set of breathing methods that change breath to create some beneficial results. Here are the main breathing exercises.
Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellows Breath)
Bhastika pranayam also called bellows breath, which is a powerful yoga breathing method. It is a clean-up kriya that clears the nostrils, sinuses, and Nadis and makes you breathe deep. It is also good for energizing the body. Therefore, the next time you feel tired and lifeless, instead of reaching to have coffee, try doing Bhastrika Pranayama.
How To do Bhastrika Pranayama?
- Sit with straight back and lotus position.
- Start taking a deep breath from the nose, fill lungs with air. Then breathe out similarly. Perform this some time to settle head.
- Now start to exhale quick breaths from the nose forcefully. Follow it up by breathing in the same manner.
- Your breath should begin from the diaphragm, and your abdomen must move inward and outward as you take breaths. The rest of the body should be still.
- Perform a round of under breathing, developing it upward with natural breathing, and then do the next round. As you take breathe naturally, follow the sensations in your mind and body.
- Perform at least 3-rounds of Bhastrika and end this session.
Benefits Of Bhastrika Pranayama
- Bhastrika Pranayama helps to strengthen the lungs and cure asthma.
- It helps to calm down the brain and prevent allergies.
- It cleanses the breath and increases heart health.
- This pranayama helps to treat the common cold and boost the immune system.
- It brings peace and calmness to the mind.
Kapalbhati Pranayama also called Skull Shining Breath is a breathing method that will give you a sparkling head and a splendid astuteness with usual practice. It is a ‘shat’ kriya that cleans out poisonous air from your body. The word ‘Kapalbhati’ signifies sparkling head. ‘Kapal’ signifies brow and ‘Bhati’ signifies sparkling. How about we look at how to get one underneath.
How To do Kapalbhati Pranayama?
- Take Sukhasana position and keep palms on knees. Focus on the belly region.
- Breathe deeply from the nose, fill lungs with air, and take calm and regular breathing.
- Pull your belly inward to your spine and keep your hand on the belly and feel your contracting muscles.
- Breath out in a quick and short burst as you relax from contraction.
- You will see the hissing sound while you do so. There is automatic breathing following that.
- Do one round of Kapal Bhati that contains breathing in and breathing out 20 times. After one round, close your eyes in Sukhasana and feel your body.
Benefits Of Kapalbhati Pranayama
- Kapalbhati helps to increase kidneys and liver functions.
- It helps to reduce eye strain and dark circles.
- The process helps to restore the body and calm down the brain.
- It lowers acidity and gas problems in the stomach.
- The breathing method increases concentration and memory power.
- The method improves metabolic rate and assists in weight loss.
- This breathing also benefits to stimulates abdominal organs and diabetic patients.
- It restores the brain and nerves.
- It increases lungs capacity.
- Do not practice this pranayama if you are a heart patient.
- Do it with a vacant stomach in the morning.
- A person with high blood pressure should lower the Kapalbhati rate.
- Learn Kapalbhati from a certified yoga trainer after a health check-up.
- It is good to skip this method if you are menstruating or pregnant.
- Skip this pranayama if you have a stent or slipped disc.
- If you are suffering from ulcers, then avoid them.
- Ensure to be aware during the breathing workout if you are suffering from an asthma problem.
Bhramari Pranayama also called Bee Breath is named after a black bee from India called the Bhramari. It is a simple breathing method that can be performed anywhere as a smart solution to lower stress. The breath during this method is alike to bee humming.
How To Do Bhramari Pranayama?
- Sit straight and have a gentle smile on your face.
- Shut your eyes and feel the body.
- Put index fingers on the cartilage in between ears and cheeks.
- Take a deep breath and breath, press the cartilage with your index finger and make a humming sound like a bee.
- Keep the same breathing pattern for some time.
Benefits of Bhramari Pranayama
- Bhramari Pranayama helps to treat hypertension and lower anxiety and anger.
- It decreases migraines and promotes confidence.
- It drops blood pressure and prevents Alzheimer’s disease.
- These methods also calm down nerves and lower frustration and decrease throat problems.
Bhramari’s breathing does not cause side effects. However, if one does it in the wrong way, then there might be some problems and you will not gain its benefits. Follow the proper instruction for yoga.
However, here are some precautions to prevent side effects:
- Keep thumb on tragus cartilage and do not insert it in the ear.
- Avoid pressing on the tragus cartilage a hard way, but just keep your thumb gently over it.
- This Pranayama should be done with an empty stomach or at least after -5 hours meal.
- Try doing this yoga in the early morning before sunrise.
- Make sure to keep lips lightly pressed while doing this pranayama.
- If you feel tired while doing this asana, take some rest and take a deep breath before doing the next round.
- People experiencing ear infections should skip the asana till their infection gets cured.
So, the next time you feel anxious or unable to focus and not able to get sleep, you can get help from this pranayam. It helps to prevent sleep apnea and regular sleep patterns.
Anulom Vilom is also called alternate nostril breathing is a method from which Nadis, energy passages of the body are cleared. Through Anulom vilom’s change breathing pattern, the left and right Nadis are cleansed, balanced, and stimulated.
How To do Anulom Vilom
- Sit in padmasana, sukhasana, and varasana. Keep back straight and chin slightly tucked toward your chest and close your eyes.
- Keep left palm over the left knee and let it face up in the Gyan mudra.
- Raise the right hand and keep a right thumb on the right nostril side.
- Breath in deeply, silently, and slowly from the left nostril.
- After inhaling, hold the little finger of your right palm on the left side nostril.
- Breath out from the right nostril deeply, slowly, and silently.
- Then, breathe from the right nostril. Hold the right nostril with your right thumb and breath out from the left nostril. That is a complete round of Anulom Vilom.
- Perform 5 rounds in starting and then raise it according to convenience.
Benefits of Anulom Vilom
- It enhances your complete health.
- This pranayam boosts metabolism and regulates diabetes.
- It lowers sinusitis and arthritis.
- Create ear and eye problems
- It helps to cure asthma and allergies.
Bahya Pranayama is also called external breath as its name involves retaining the breath after breathing out. As the breath is left out, it is called the external breath. Bahya refers to external. It is a 3-step method of breathing in, breathing out, and retaining the breath. It is an important breathing method.
How To Do Bahya Pranayama
- Sit straight in vajrasana or padmasana.
- Breath in long and breath out fully
- Hold breath while you pull your belly upward and drop your neck toward the chest. While raising your chest to the chin. Continue on to this state for 5-10 seconds. Then, breathe in deeply and leave your stomach and chin.
- Repeat this for 5 minutes.
Benefits of Pranayama
According to a study of 2013, pranayama lower perceived stress levels in healthy adults. The researchers discovered that pranayam calms down the nervous system, which enhances stress response.
Another research of 2013 discovered similar benefits. People who practiced pranayama feel low anxiety before taking a test. The authors of the research related this effect to the increased oxygen intake during pranayama. Oxygen is energy for your important organs, including nerves and the brain. It improves your sleep quality.
According to clinical studies, Bhramari pranayam was revealed to slow down the heart rate and breathing when practiced for 5 minutes. It may help to calm your body for inducing sleep.
According to a study of 2019, pranayama also enhances sleep quality in people with sleep apnea problems. Additionally, the study discovered that practicing pranayama lowers snoring and sleep in the daytime.
Breathing is automatic for many people; they do not think about it much. But, during pranayama, you want to be informed of your breathing and how it senses. You also need to practice focusing on the existing moment instead of the future or past. This is what is called mindfulness.
According to a 2017 study, a student who did pranayama shown higher levels of mindfulness than those who did not. The same individual also indicated better emotional levels regulation. It was linked with the calming impact of pranayama, which helps the ability to be more mindful.
The researchers also stated that pranayama serves to eliminate carbon dioxide and boost oxygen concentration, which offers energy to brain cells. It may lead to mindfulness by increasing concentration and focus.
Lower High Blood Pressure
Hypertension also called high blood pressure, is the increased blood pressure risky levels. It boosts the danger of some serious health problems like heart and stroke disease. Stress is a primary factor for high blood pressure. Pranayama can help to reduce risk by promoting relaxation.
According to a 2014 study, people with mild hypertension got antihypertensive drugs for 6-weeks. Half the participants also got pranayama practice for 6-weeks. At the end of the study, the latter group felt a higher decrease in blood pressure.
This result, according to the creators of the study, is likely because of mindful pranayama breathing.
When you concentrate on breathing, it can support to calm the nervous system. In turn, may help to reduce stress response and hypertension risk.
Improves Lung Function
As a kind of breathing workout, the slow, forceful pranayama breathing may increase lungs strength.
A 2019 study indicated that 6-weeks of participating pranayama for one hour a day could affect lung function. The practice increased multiple parameters of lung function, according to pulmonary test results.
According to study authors, pranayama may help increase lung strength in conditions like:
- allergic bronchitis
Enhances Cognitive Performance
Additionally, after lungs, pranayama also improves brain functions. According to a 2013 study discovered that 12-weeks of fast or slow pranayama enhanced executive function, which includes cognitive flexibility, memory, and reasoning skills. The study also discovered that pranayama provides the ability to increase the perceived level of reaction time and stress.
Additionally, the study discovered that fast pranayama was linked with good sensory-motor and auditory memory performance. According to the researchers, these benefits are because of the stress-reducing effects of pranayama. The more oxygen uptake, which increases the brain cells’ energy.
Lower Cigarette Cravings
There is evidence that pranayama or yogic breathing could lower cravings in people who are looking to quit smoking.
According to a 2012 study, just 10 minutes of yogic breathing leads to short-term lower cigarette cravings.
According to a recent study discovered that mindfulness-based yoga breathing lowers the negative impact linked with smoking withdrawal.
Diarrhea, IBS, and hyperacidity are disorders closely related to brain activity. Studies prove these signs subside with a consistent breathing practice and its calming effects.
Research has shown pranayama has an instant and positive effect on heart rate, circulation, and blood pressure. It is often used to treat patients with arrhythmia.
Certain methods help clear the nasal cavity and generate ventilation, increase allergies, congestion, sinus infections, and sinus headaches.
Forceful and deep breathing quickens metabolism and stimulates abdominal muscles in ways those pesky crunches cannot thanks to a promoted oxygen supply.
When we hold breath, retained breath provides oxygen to skin cells. This raises the blood thrush and detoxifies the blood, enhances skin appearance, and stops premature aging like sun spots and wrinkles.
Pranayama Side Effects
If you do not do pranayama properly, on do it in a wrong way, you may face the following side effects:
- frequently eye closing
- Lack of thoughts stability
- Asthma worsening
- Dry mouth
- More internal fear
- more stress
- low immunity
- body pain
- blurred vision
- more depression
- Psychological restlessness and imbalance
Why Do Side Effects of Pranayam Occur?
Like ayurvedic medicine with self-treatment is risky, similarly, self-treatment with pranayama is risky. Spend some pennies and talk with an expert, know it, and practice with.
Closed Room with No Windows
Pranayama should be performed in a well-ventilated room. There should be freshness in the air. If not, it may lead to breathing difficulty or make the thinking process hard for the brain.
Lack Of Calmness Or Hurried Mind
It is important to do pranayama in a quiet place. Do not do pranayama if your mind is too busy or upset. Do pranayama when you are in good mood, in case you are depressed, or talk with positive friends for five minutes. Stay happy and hopeful.
You do pranayama to calm yourself, to focus more. But it does not help when there is noise at home or around the home. In such cases, do not plug ears, but find a calm place.
Breath control or pranayama is a primary component of yoga. It is frequently practiced with meditation and yoga postures. The goal of pranayama is to help the connection between mind and body.
According to research, pranayama is good for mindfulness and relaxation. It also increases support for health, including blood pressure, lung function, brain function.
Wrong Sitting Posture
Sitting in the wrong posture causes to lower benefits of pranayama. Make sure to talk with your doctor to talk about doing pranayama. Also, treat the backache before trying pranayama.
Stick with recommended dosage when it is about Ayurveda medicines. Do only suggested repetitions, when it is about pranayama or yoga. Overdoing also leads to Vata.
Doing It When Very Hungry
Ayurveda recommends avoiding suppressing hunger. If you do pranayama when you are feeling hungry, you will hurt your digestive fire, Vata and Pitta, and have a feeling of blurred vision, nausea, digestive problems, and migraine. When you are hungry, eat something healthy like fruits or vegetable salad, and wait for some hours before doing pranayama.
Nervousness, Anxiety, And Phobia
These symptoms occur when you do rigorous or forceful breathing like Kapalbhati. If you get these symptoms, lower pranayama time for only 5 minutes or avoid it.
Increased Blood Pressure
There is a wrong belief that Kapalbhati is helpful to lower obesity and belly fat. So, elderly people try to do it very quickly, but it’s wrong. Kapal Bhati can cause to raise anxiety and blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
Yawning during Pranayama
It can occur if you had less sleep during last night or more tired. If you yawn during pranayam, avoid holding it back. Keep yawning and relax and breathe for one minute and continue doing pranayam.
Doing It Immediately After Food
Do not do pranayama after eating your breakfast or other meal because it will harm your Pitta, Kapha, and Vata.
Too Much Concentration
Concentrating more between eyebrow parts can cause side effects of dizziness. Try concentrating first on the nose tip, then slowly try between eyebrows.
A negative mindset is not about depression, but you have a habit of seeing fault in everything on this earth. Thinking about what pranayama change to my health and doubting it may not help to get results.
Hurried Activities After Pranayama
Doing hurried activities after pranayama like running or quickly getting ready for the office may cause side effects. You need to wait 10 minutes after pranayama and do prayer, meditations, and then slowly start the routine.
Difficulty Withholding Breath
Different pranayama types may need to hold their breath for a particular time. But many people find it very hard to hold their breath. In such cases, skip the one that you feel difficult and do only one which is much easier, like Anuloma Viloma.