- Pranayamas cause rhythmic expansion of the lungs, creating better circulation within the kidneys, liver, stomach, spleen, intestines, skin and other organs of the body
- Oxygen is essential for efficient functioning of every body cell. It purifies the blood stream and therefore there is improvement in the quality of blood
- The mind is calm and able to concentrate better.
- Deep, slow breathing results in a stronger and more efficient working of the heart and lungs.
Types of Pranayama exercises
(1) Yogic breathing (the complete breath)
This breathing exercise uses the lower, mid and upper part of the respiratory muscles. Start with abdominal breathing, followed by thoracic breathing and finally clavicle breathing. Reverse the order when you exhale.
- Increases lung capacity
- Slows respiration rate
- Calms the mind.
(2) Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing)
This is a simple form of alternate nostril breathing. Nadi means ‘channel’ and refers to the energy pathways through which the prana flows. Shodhana means ‘cleansing’. Nadi shodhana means purification of nadis or channels. Inhale through the left nostril, exhale through the right; inhale through the right and exhale through the left. This is one round of breathing.
- Strengthens the nervous system
- Helps conditions such as anxiety, depression, hypertension, and hypotension.
(3) Kapalabhati (cleansing breath)
Kapala means skull and bhati means to purify. In this pranayama, through quick, rapid expulsions of the breath, the nasal passages are cleansed and purified. Inhale deeply. Exhale partially with rapid movements of the abdomen.
- Increases oxygen and blood circulation to the head region
- Tones and strengthens the abdominal muscles
- Improves digestion and prevents constipation.
Brahmari means bee. The exhalation sound in this exercise is similar to a female bee. Place the thumb on your ears; and inhale, then exhale making the sound of the humming bee.
(4) Bhramari (humming bee)
- Nourishes and calms the brain cells
- Soothes the nerves
- Helps in treating insomnia