Today, more and more people from different walks of life are opting for Yoga. Yoga is more than asanas. It’s a complete lifestyle that promotes holistic health. Prana is the vital component that sustains life. “Pran” mean bio-energy and “ayama” means to control or regulation. There are various types of Pranayama, and their benefits in daily life are unlimited.

Four aspects of Pranayam

In the pranayam practices there are four important aspects of breathing which are utilised.   These are :

  1. Pooraka or Inhalation
  2. Rechaka or Exhalation
  3. Antar kumbhaka or Internal breath retention
  4. Bahir kumbhaka or External breath retantion


The different practices of pranayama involve various techniques which utilize these four aspects of breathing. There is another mode of pranayama, which is called kevala kumbhaka or spontaneous breath retention. This is advanced stage of pranayama which occurs during high states of meditation. The most important part of pranayama is actually kumbhak or breath retention. Therefore, in the pranayama practices more emphasis is given to inhalation and exhalation in order to strengthen the lungs and balance the nervous and pranic systems in preparation for the practice of kumbhak.


Most people go through life without even being aware of how many breaths they take in one minute. Breathing of such people is generally slow and erratic. Daily pranayama trains the lungs and improves the capacity of respiratory system immensely. Pranayama directly works on the nervous system. Daily Pranayama positively affects autonomic nervous system which controls and governs essential functions of the body like the heart rate, respiration and blood pressure etc.

Types of Pranayama

  1. Pranayama- Diaphragm Breathing.
The diaphragm is exercised in this Pranayama. The diaphragm is a musculo-membranous partition, separating the thoracic and abdomen cavities. When relaxed it is convex, but it flattens during inhalation, thereby enlarging the thoracic cavity and allowing for the expansion of the lungs. This Pranayama is done in the supine position, as the position aids optimal movement of the diaphragm.   Recommended Practice -10 rounds/session – to a count as per individual capacity and comfort   Benefits- Digestive organs stay active. Reduces fat collected around the stomach. Improved breathing – vital capacity and tidal volume improve. Leads to quietude and inner harmony. Sedative effect on the nervous system – relaxes the entire body.  
  1. Pranayama – Thoracic Breathing :
Thoracic breathing utilizes the middle lobes of the lungs by expanding and contracting the ribcage. It expends more energy than abdominal breathing for the same quantity of air exchange. It is often associated with physical exercise and exertion, as well as stress and tension, when combined with abdominal breathing, it helps the body to obtain more oxygen.  
  1. Pranayama – Clavicular Breathing
Clavicular breathing is the final stage of total ribcage expansion. It occurs after the thoracic inhalation has been completed. In order to absorb a little more air into the lungs, the upper ribs and the collar bone are pulled upward by the muscles of the neck, throat and sternum.  
  1. Pranayama – Yogic Breathing
Yogic breathing combines the previous three techniques. It is used to maximize inhalation and exhalation. It’s purpose is to gain control of the breath, correct poor breathing habits and increase oxygen intake.  
  1. Pranayama-alternate nostril breathing (Anuloma-Viloma)
We normally inhale and exhale for approximately 1 ½ half hours from one nostril and then unconsciously the other nostril takes over for the same period. This pranayama is practised to regulate the natural way of breathing which brings balance between positive and negative effects of breathing on both the body and mind.   Recommended practice – Practice daily, five rounds/ day   (Limitations- Children under 12 years should not practice. Cardiac patients should NOT exceed their time capacit   Benefits- Favourable pressure changes in lungs for better oxygenation. Experience quietude and inner harmony. Sedative effect on the nervous system – concentration is improved Balances the energies in our system which helps cope with pains and aches.  
  1. Pranayama – Sheetali & Sheetkari
Sheetali is derived from the root sheet, which means ‘cold’. Sheetal means that which is calm, passionless and soothing. This practice cools the body and affects important brain centres associated with biological drives and temperature regulation. Benefit – Reduce mental and emotional excitation Give mental tranquillity Control over hunger  
  1. Pranayama – Bhramari; bee breath
Bhramari comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Bramar’ – a black Indian bee. The resounding echo of the sound made by a humming bee is replicated in the practice of this technique. The humming sound resonates in the head region. The sound helps in bringing forth a sense of unity and concentration. Bhramari Pranayama Benefits– Has a very beneficial effect on the nervous system (ANS) Restores the elasticity of lungs and beneficial in Asthmatic conditions. Practised daily it induces meditative states and quietens the mind. Beneficial in relieving hypertension and stress. It relaxes the mind and lowers stress and reduces tension and anxiety. It helps to reduce anger and frustrations.  
  1. Pranayama – Ujjayi
The snaskrit word ujjayi means ‘victorios’. It is derived from the root ji, which means ‘to conquer’ or ‘to acquire by conquest’, and the prefix ud, which means ‘bondage’. Ujjayi is therefore the pranayama which gives freedom from bondage. It is also known as the psychic breath. Benefit – Soothes the nervous system Calms the mind Relieve insomania Reduce high blood pressure  
  1. Pranayama – Kapalbhati
The sanskrit word kapal means ‘forehead’ and bhati means ‘light or knowledge’.Hence kapalbhati is the practice which brings a state of light or clarity to the frontal region of the brain. Another name for this practice is ‘kapalshodhana’, the word shodhana meaning to ‘purify’. Benefit – Cleansing effect on the lungs Good for respiratory disorderse Balance and stregthen the nervous system Tone the digestve organs Purifies the nadis   Daily Pranayama slows the ageing process. It makes your skin glow and releases toxins. Provides stillness of mind and provides lightness in your body. Helps in weight reduction and melts excess fats. Breathe easy with daily pranayamas. Daily Pranayama is a holistic wellness practice for mind, body and soul.