Breath Control: Pranayama You Should Practice

Pranayama is the practice of controlling your breath. It quickly stabilizes your mood and helps you feel more balanced.

Light and Quick

Because you have a tendency to feel distracted, jumping from one thought to another, you need a rhythmic breath to help collect your thoughts.

Head to a quiet corner. Sit on the floor or on a chair without leaning against the back of the chair, keeping your back straight and relaxing your shoulder. Make sure you are comfortable and warm. If necessary, use a backrest, sit on a blanket, and swaddle yourself well.

Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing

As you breathe, don’t try to forcefully drive your thoughts away. Just focus on your breath.

  • Take a full, deep breath.
  • Exhale slowly.
  • Fold in the index and middle fingers of the right hand so that they touch your palm.
  • Press the right thumb on your right nostril, closing it.
  • Breathe in through the left nostril.
  • Close off your left nostril with the ring finger and the little finger.
  • Breathe out through the right nostril.
  • Keeping the left nostril still closed off, breathe in through the right nostril.
  • Now press the right nostril with the thumb, release the left nostril, and breathe out through it.
  • This is one cycle. Repeat the cycle 20 times.
  • Always end the practice with an exhale through the left nostril.

Feeling calmer already, aren’t you?

Intense

Because you have a tendency to feel frustrated and irritated, you need a cooling breath to help you relax and let go of any negativity.

Head to a quiet corner. Sit on the floor or on a chair without leaning against the back of the chair, keeping your back straight and relaxing your shoulder.

Sheetali or the Cooling Breath

Air passing over your tongue cools it down, slowly bringing down your body temperature.

  • Sit cross-legged, with your hands on the knees.
  • Pull your tongue out and curl the sides. It will resemble a tube.
  • Inhale through the mouth. Can you feel the tongue cool down instantly?
  • Close your mouth and exhale through your nose.
  • Repeat 20 times.
Sheetkari or the Hissing Breath

This is a variation of the sheetali pranayama.

  • Sit comfortably.
  • Roll your tongue up and touch the roof of your mouth.
  • Clench your teeth.
  • Pull yours lips apart.
  • Breathe in slowly through clenched teeth. The hissing sound produced while inhaling is what gives the pranayama its name.
  • Bend your neck forward so that the chin touches the chest and hold your breath for as long as you are comfortable.
  • Slowly release the chin lock and breathe out through your nose.
  • Repeat 20 times.
Bhramari Pranayama or Humming Bee Breath

Here’s one more breathing technique you could try.

  • Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  • Close your ears with your thumbs, rest the index fingers on the forehead above the eyebrows, and make the rest of the fingers touch the bridge of the nose.
  • Make the tip of your tongue touch the back of your front teeth.
  • Keeping the jaws slightly apart, close your lips.
  • Inhale deeply.
  • Drop the chin so that it touches your chest.
  • While exhaling, make a medium-pitched humming sound.
  • You’ll feel the vibration resonate through your head.
  • After finishing the exhalation, lift your chin and start again.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Slow and Steady

Because you have a tendency to feel dull and lethargic, you need a pranayama that will fill you with energy, quicken your breath, and clear your mind – just like a run would.

Head to a quiet corner. Sit on the floor or on a chair without leaning against the back of the chair, keeping your back straight and relaxing your shoulder.

Bhastrika or Bellows Breath
  • Breathe in deeply for a full second, expanding your belly to its maximum limit.
  • Hold your breath but do not tighten any of your muscles.
  • Breathe out through your nose forcefully.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Take a 15 second break and repeat the cycle 20 times.
  • Take another 15 second break and repeat the cycle 30 times.
Kapalabhati or Breath of Fire
  • Sit comfortably, straightening your spine.
  • Place your hands on the knees, palm up.
  • Take a deep breath in.
  • When you exhale, pull your stomach in as much as you can, then let go.
  • As the stomach goes back to its original shape, you will have automatically breathed in.
  • Do 3 sets of 20 breaths with 20 seconds in between each set.
Surya Bhedana or Sun Breaths

Here’s one more technique you could try. For this pranayama, you need to breathe in through your right nostril and breathe out through the left.

  • Sit straight.
  • Closing the left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand, breathe in through the right for a second.
  • Now close both nostrils with your ring finger and the thumb and hold your breath for 2 seconds.
  • Open your left nostril and breathe out slowly for a second.
  • Repeat 20 such cycles.

As you progress with this pranayama, increase the ratio of inhale, hold, and exhale in a 1:4:2 ratio. So if you inhale for 1 second, hold your breath for 4, and exhale for 2 seconds.

Don’t you feel energetic? Congratulations! You have found a shortcut to balance. Breathing.