Common Types of Pranayama Breathing Techniques

By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, ERYT500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP, CAADC

Pranayama, a breathing technique that helps one control their breath, is a primary component of both yoga and meditation. By focusing on breathing techniques, you can improve your physical and mental well-being, increase mindfulness, and enhance your overall quality of life. Here, we’ll spend a few minutes exploring a few common types of pranayama breathing techniques that you can incorporate into your daily routine to experience their numerous benefits.

Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi is Sanskrit for “victorious.” This technique is known for its calming effect on the mind and body. To practice ujjayi pranayama, find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and take a deep breath in through your nose. As you exhale, constrict the back of your throat, creating a “ha” sound. Repeat this for several rounds, gradually lengthening you exhales while keeping you inhales consistent. This breathing technique promotes relaxation and can relieve anxiety and stress.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Also known as alternate nostril breathing, nadi shodhana pranayama is a balancing, cleansing technique. To practice this, sit comfortably with your left hand resting on your left knee. Bring your right hand to your nose and use your thumb to close the right nostril. Inhale through the open left nostril, release your thumb, and use your ring finger to then close left nostril. Exhale through your right nostril and then inhale through that same nostril before releasing the ring finger and closing off the right nostril again.

Repeat this cycle for several rounds, focusing on your breath and on maintaining a steady rhythm. This technique brings balance to both sides of your body and mind.

Bhramari Pranayama

Bhramari, or “bee breath,” is a calming technique that can reduce anxiety and tension in the body. To practice this, sit comfortably with your eyes closed and take a deep breath through your nose. On the exhale, create a slight, soft buzzing sound like a bee. Repeat this for several rounds, focusing on the vibrations of the sound in your head. This technique can also improve concentration and mental clarity.

Kapalbhati Pranayama

Another common type of pranayama is kapalbhati, which is Sanskrit for “skull-shining.” This breathing technique is known for its detoxifying effects. To practice it, sit comfortably with your hands resting on your knees. Take a deep breath in through your nose and then vigorously exhale through your nose while engaging your abdominal muscles. The exhalation should be short and quick, followed by a passive inhalation. Repeat this for several rounds, gradually increasing the speed of your exhalations. This technique can improve digestion and boost energy levels.

Pranayama Training With Online Yoga School

Incorporating pranayama training into your daily routine can be incredibly beneficial for your physical and mental well-being. These are just a few of the many types of pranayama techniques you can try. Remember to start slowly, listen to your body as you practice, and seek guidance from a trained instructor if needed.

If you’re looking to deepen your breath work practices and better assist your students, enroll in pranayama training today through Online Yoga School. We offer an affordable, accessible way for students and enthusiasts to receive the education they deserve.