Top 5 Pranayama For Beginners
27 Nov 2021 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy
In order to practice the cycle of inhaling and exhaling, this articles outlines 5 types of breathing exercises ( pranayama ) that any beginner can try.
What is Pranayama?
Pranayama is the practice of breath regulation and is often practiced with yoga and meditation. In Sanskrit, ‘prana’ means life energy and ‘yama’ means control so pranayama often referred as energy regulation. Pranayama is the first practice that all yogis must master. Each breathing techniques has benefits of its own with different physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. The goal of pranayama is to connect body and mind. It also supplies your body with oxygen. in Pranayama for beginners, let your body be still, let your nerves become quiet, In this stillness and quietness, just feel your natural breath. You have to practice pranayama daily to direct your energy throughout the body.
When your prana is strong throughout the whole body then u are connected to your inner self and the Universe.
How Should I Sit?
Correct posture is must for pranayama. The upper body should be completely straight and erect-head, neck and back are in alignment. You can either sit on your knees in vajrasana or sit cross legged in lotus position. The hands are rest on the knees. The eyes are closed. The body remains motionless during the practice. The goal is to elongate the spine and keep the crown elevated.
How long should I Practice breathing for?
At first, try to practice for 1 -2 minutes and see how you feel. Once you feel comfortable with this time, you can increase the time slowly. There is no limit of time, it`s just your own experience.
- Natural breath
Natural breathing is generally breath awareness. This is the breath you take when you aren`t trying to breath or change anything. It is relaxing, soothing, and can be practiced at any time. It is also the basic starting of meditation.
For a few moments, sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Just be aware of the breath and feel the inhalation and exhalation. Try to notice if your breath is shallow or deep. Be aware of the sound, temperature of the breath. Feel the physical sensations throughout the body while inhaling and exhaling. Focus on your breath and let the mind be calm. Be aware of the overall state of being.
Natural breathing practice can also use at any time to help you relax and release stress.
Kapalabhati pranayama is considered as internal purification practice. This term is derived from the Sanskrit word Kapal means “skull” and bhakti means “to shine”. It is more active and fire than dirgha and ujjayi so you will feel more energy afterwards.
Kapalbhati strengthens and stimulates the digestive system and abdominal muscles so great for toning the abdomen. It is great for clearing the blockages in your respiratory system, treats cough and cold and clears out the sinuses. Practicing kapalbhati also helps to relieve gas, heartburn and constipation.
Kapalbhati also stimulates the chakras of the face and the third eye. Chakras are activated y practicing kapalbhati in proper way.
Be seated in any meditative comfortable position with your eyes closed. Relax the whole body and take a few clearing deep breath to adjust yourself. Place your one hand on your solar plexus over the upper abdomen. Deeply inhale through the nostrils and expand the belly into your hand. Exhale forcefully through the nose and squeeze the abdomen in. Just let the lungs to fill up naturally and quickly in the exhale, then exhale sharply again. Repeat these quick inhales and forceful exhales at a steady pace 20 times. Remember that your focus should be on exhalation. After a few days of practice, the inhalation and exhalation will be smooth and automataic.
- Nadi Sodhana
Nadi sodhana is a type of alternate nostril practice. It is a breathing technique that helps to clear the energy channels and thus calming the mind. In yoga, the nadis are subtle energy pathways throughout the body so if you breath through different nostrils, you cleanse and balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain. It is also known as Anulom Vilom Pranayama.
Make yourself comfortable with your spine erect and shoulders relaxed. Take a few deep inhales and exhales on your mat. Create Vishnu mudra with your right hand and bring it up to your face. In your first inhale, Block the right nostril with your thumb and inhale through the left nostril. And then close the left nostril and exhale through the right side. Again inhale through the right side and, then close your right nostril and exhale through the left.
Repeat this breath in proper way for 2 minutes. If your want more slowly you can increase time and practice up to 10 minutes. Enjoy the meditative experience. This breath calms your mind and helps you to concentrate on a deeper level.
- Simha pranayama
Simha pranayama( lion`s pose) is a breathing exercise in which posture has resemblance of sitting lion, hence the name. This pranayama improves circulation, boost the immune system and also relieves facial tension. It also stimulate your throat and upper chest.
Find the position to sit in like vajrasana posture, sitting on your heel or half lotus posture or sitting cross legged pose. Take a few deep breaths to cleanse the lungs and sinuses. Inhale deeply and on your exhale, lean slightly forward, open your mouth and stick your tongue out making a “haaaa” sound with the back of your throat. Bring your eyes up to your third eye and stretch all the muscles in the face as you exhale. Perform this lion`s breath for 5 rounds then pause and notice how you feel. You can practice at any time like meditation or before the asana practice.
- Ujjayi Pranayama
This is the common breathing technique where you construct the back of your throat to create a gentle hissing noise. It is also said as ocean breath as ujjayi creates the sound as if you are echoing the ocean through your breath. Thus sound calms the mind and increases the concentration.
To practice this pranayama, come into a seated position on your mat and close the mouth and constrict the throat (the glottis). Make a short exhalation and then start inhaling-slowly and rhythmically one long and unbroken inspiration. Allow the air to pass through the constructed throat, creating a friction sound. As you repeat, explore making the sounds and softer. Concentrate on the sound and the sensation in the back of the throat.
This pranayama should be performed slowly for several minutes. This breath is especially stimulating and cleansing for the throat chakra. You should practice for at least 5-10 minutes during a sitting period.
All these pranayama exercises are suitable for advanced yoga as well as for beginners. You must notice how you feel before, during and after a session. Connecting to your prana can be a truly eye-opening experience.