The Science of Pranayama: Breathing Techniques For Good Health

Reviewed by: | Author: Manoja Kalakanti
Pranayam activity

One Pranayama technique is breath control. It’s an essential component of yoga, a practice that fosters mental and emotional wellness. In Sanskrit, “Prana” denotes the substance of life, and “Yama” denotes authority. Pranayama includes breathing exercises and pranayama techniques. You intentionally inhale, exhale, and hold the air in that sequence. Pranayama is utilized in yoga in conjunction with asanas, physical poses, dhyana, or meditation. These combined practices are what give yoga its many benefits. Pranayama, though, has advantages of its own.

What is Pranayama? 

The traditional method of breathing regulation is known as Pranayama. Every breath and hold are under your control regarding timing, length, and frequency. Your body and mind should be connected through Pranayama. While eliminating pollutants, it also oxygenates your body. It is intended to have physiological effects that promote healing and reduce breathing problems. Pranayama uses a variety of breathing techniques. Examples comprise:

  • Nadi sodhana, or alternating nostril breathing.
  • Ujjayi or Breath of victory
  • Bellows breath (bastrika) and female honeybee humming breath (bhramari)
  • There are numerous methods to practice these breathing yogas. You could practice them, for example, while doing yoga positions. They can be used independently or in conjunction with meditation.

Types Of Pranayama

In terms of importance, pranayama breathing techniques are on par with asanas as a fundamental aspect of yoga and serve as a form of meditation in and of itself. To assist you in getting started practicing this breathing practice and experiencing its benefits, the eight pranayama breathing techniques below are a brief list, starting easier and generally growing tougher.

1. Dirga pranayama

It has three different names because you actively breathe into three separate areas of the belly when using this pranayama technique. It’s the greatest Pranayama for beginners because it helps you become acclimated to taking deep, contemplative breaths.

  • This pranayama increases oxygen intake
  • Helps greatly in reducing stress and anxiety

2. Nadi Sodhana

This is presumably the Pranayama you’ve experienced if you’ve heard of it or have used it yourself. This Pranayama, sometimes called “alternate nostril breathing,” works to balance the three doshas that make up the human experience—the mind, body, and soul. This breathing method is thought to aid in clearing the body’s energy pathways.

  • It helps in reducing nose bleeds.
  • This pranayama also helps in balancing hormones.

3. Ujjayi pranayama

The breathing exercise known as ujjayi pranayama, usually referred to as the “victorious breath” or “ocean breath,” is frequently used in breathing yoga and pranayama or breath control exercises. Ujjayi pranayama produces a soft sound imitating the sound of mild snoring or the ocean waves by involving deep inhalations and exhalations through the nostrils while tightening the back of the throat. Pregnant women are often advised against performing this specific pranayama.

  • Helps in lowering the blood pressure
  • Relieves insomnia

4.Bhastrika pranayama

Before attempting the “breath of fire,” it might be a good idea to try the “bellows breath,” which is comparable but less challenging. The primary distinction is that this breathing technique uses a robust intake and exhale.

  • Calms the mind
  • Gives energy to the entire body and mind

5. Viloma pranayama

The two variations of the breathing pattern used in Pranayama also alternate between halted inhalation and halted exhalation. This pranayama is famously known for balancing one’s breathing rate.

  • Helps to relieve tension caused by PMS
  • Improves control of breath pattern

6.Kapala Bathi pranayama

You can employ Kapala Bhati Pranayama to warm yourself up instead of the Shitali Pranayama’s chilling effect. A powerful exhale follows an uncontrollable deep inhale in this pranayama breathing method. It’s a typical kundalini yoga technique that controls breathing rate and helps in weight loss.

  • Improves blood circulation
  • Increases metabolic rate

Benefits Of Pranayama

To reap the advantages of these breathing exercises in the traditional manner, many practitioners practice Pranayama. Various benefits of Pranayama for the body and mind have been discovered by modern science. Some of them are:

1. Reduces stress

Young adults in good health report less stress after practicing yoga. Pranayama is thought to soothe the neurological system, enhancing stress response. Pranayama practitioners reported feeling less anxious before exams. This is a result of the effect of Pranayama’s improved oxygen uptake. Your brain and nerves, among other critical organs, are powered by oxygen.

2. Improves quality of sleep

You can sleep better thanks to Pranayama’s stress-relieving benefits. When done for five minutes, a technique called Bhramari Pranayama has been demonstrated to calm breathing and heart rate. This might induce sleep by relaxing your body by balancing the breathing rate. Pranayama also enhances sleep quality in those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea or breathing difficulty. Additionally, it was discovered that pranayama and acupressure points practice reduced snoring and daytime tiredness, pointing to the advantages of better-quality sleep.

3. Increases mindfulness

Many of us breathe without thinking. We carry it out without giving it a lot of thought. You must, however, pay attention to your breathing rate and how it feels while practicing Pranayama. You also work on keeping your watch on the here and now rather than the past or the future. This is what mindfulness entails. When compared to non-practitioners, pranayama practitioners showed better levels of mindfulness.

Additionally, they displayed higher levels of emotional regulation. The soothing effects of Pranayama, which help you be more conscious, were linked to this. Pranayama is also thought to aid in removing carbon dioxide and increasing oxygen levels, which feeds brain cells. This might promote mindfulness by sharpening the mind’s focus and concentration.

4. Increases lung capacity

The slow, vigorous breathing used in Pranayama as a form of breathing exercise may strengthen the lungs and cause less breathing problem symptoms. It has been found that daily Pranayama practice for an hour for six weeks can significantly improve lung function. The course enhanced lung function in many different ways. Many lung disorders may benefit from Pranayama as a lung-strengthening technique, including:

  • Asthma
  • Allergic bronchitis
  • Treatment of TB and pneumonia

5. Minimizes cravings to smoke a cigarette

There is proof that Pranayama, or yoga breathing, can lessen cravings in those trying to quit smoking. Yoga breathing for just 10 minutes reduced cigarette cravings temporarily. It was discovered that mindfulness-based yoga breathing decreased the drawbacks of quitting smoking.

6. Reduces hypertension

Chanting and bee breath pranayama may help lower hypertension or high blood pressure. The advantages of stress management include a lower risk of several illnesses, including strokes, peripheral vascular disease, and coronary heart disease.

7. Helps in cleansing the body and skin

Due to its impact on general well-being and stress reduction, the yoga breathing technique known as pranayama can benefit the body and skin. Deep, deliberate breathing is used in Pranayama practices, which boosts oxygen consumption. By boosting blood circulation and promoting the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the cells, improved oxygenation improves the operation of important organs, including the skin. This may help the body to detoxify and give off a more youthful appearance.

How to do Pranayama and Ways To Integrate It In Our Daily Life:

Many pranayama techniques call for slow, even breathing that is taken in and out of the nose and down toward the belly. Always sit with your back straight and your body at ease. Let rid of all thoughts while performing Pranayama by concentrating on the type of breathing involved.

Exhalation, which needs to be slow and smooth, is the first aspect of Pranayama to master. Once exhalation is mastered, attention is turned to smoothing the inhalation, making it lengthy and slow. It would help if you didn’t try to hold your breath until you could inhale and exhale with ease and fluidity. Allow the eyelids to be closed or soft while you practice. You can look up at the third eye, the area between your eyebrows, if it’s comfortable for you to do so.

Stop doing the Pranayama if you feel lightheaded, winded, or gasping for air. Instead, take deep, natural breaths until you feel better. While performing Pranayama, do not put undue strain on your body. Stop and take a break if you start to feel tired. Lay down to rest in Shavasana or briefly meditate after Pranayama.

Do this daily for about 15 minutes in a place away from distractions.

Integrating Pranayama into daily life

1. Spend 40 mins at least for quality life

Start your day with 30 minutes of yoga, followed by 10 minutes of meditation and 5 minutes of alternate nostril breathing, also known as Nadi Shodan Pranayama. Your physical and mental health will noticeably improve, and you’ll feel more energized. Move the meditation to the evening slot if you don’t have time in the morning. It’s crucial to practice yoga and meditation properly. The distinction is not in how much you do but in how you do it. According to Maharishi Patanjali, Pranayama is like playing with fire since it is so potent.

2. Keep a check on your breath

Our emotions and respiration are closely related. While contentment and peace are mirrored in calm, deep breaths, anger manifests as a faster, shallower breathing rate. We may affect our mood, change our emotions, and increase productivity by carefully controlling our breath.

Pay attention to and slow down the rhythm of your breath if you’re experiencing anxiety or panic. Observe how your nervousness decreases or, at the absolute least, how it lessens when you take a few long, deep breaths.

3. Eat your meals carefully

Due to our busy schedules, we frequently watch shows on OTT platforms or YouTube during meals. It can make a massive difference if we can genuinely engage with our food and the company of those with whom we eat. In addition, the kind of food we eat is quite essential. There are three: Rajasik, Tamasik, and Satvik. Increasing Satvik’s food intake and decreasing Rajasik’s intake in your regular diet are advantageous. Ideally, stay away from all Tamasik meals.

4. Stay close to nature

The close relationship between people and nature is emphasized in both yoga and Ayurveda. Yoga instills in us a profound sense of balance and harmony by teaching us to harmonize our body, mind, and spirit with the cycles of nature. Similarly, the ancient Indian medical system, Ayurveda, sees a close connection between our health and the natural world’s processes and elements. Going on nature hikes, being outside in the morning or evening, or spending time near a magnificent body of flowing water positively affects one’s health and ability to calm the mind.

Final Words

In conclusion, practice consistency and observe how Pranayama changes your way of life. Be ready to be astounded when Pranayama and meditation lead you to vibrant health, profound serenity, and boundless opportunities as you weave them into the fabric of your daily life. To build up your pranayama practice over time, start slowly. Pranayama is a yoga technique that may help you balance your mind and body and positively affect your general health. You might discover that it lessens the signs of specific bodily conditions or that it aids in the improvement of mental disorders like worry and anxiety.

Frequently Ask Questions

1. What is breathing?

The act of breathing involves inhaling and exhaling, which permits our bodies to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide

2. How to do yoga breathing exercises?

The steps to be followed while doing yoga breathing exercises are:
Find a comfortable position
Relax your body
Focus on your breathing rate

3. What are the top 4 benefits of pranayama breathing?

The top benefits of pranayama breathing include the following:
Increase in lung capacity
Improves concentration
Relieves stress
Boosts immune system

4. Which pranayama is good for weight loss?

The pranayama good for weight loss are:
Bhastrika or bellows breath
Kapala Bhati or skull dazzling breath

5. Can Pranayama reduce belly fat?

Yes. Given that it has a direct impact on our body’s metabolism, gut health, and digestion, kapalbhati pranayama is excellent for losing weight.

6. Does kapalbahti reduce diabetes?

There is no scientific proof that kapalbhati alone can cure diabetes, despite the fact that regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help manage diabetes.

7. Which pranayama will improve the digestive system?

Some popular pranayama that improves the digestive system are:
Nadi Sodhan

8. Can Pranayama reduce stress?

Yes, pranayama, a collection of breathing techniques used in yoga, can help you manage your stress. Pranayama can have a calming and unwinding effect on the body and mind

9. Which pranayama is best for hormonal imbalance?

Pranayama often recommended for hormonal imbalance are:
Nadi Sodhan
Bhramari Pranayama
Ujjayi Pranayama

10. Can breathing exercise help in getting clear skin?

By enhancing general well-being and lowering stress, breathing exercises can indirectly support a healthy complexion and a natural shine.

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