If you find yourself stressed and anxious or experience any negativity, breathe and breathe deeply. Yes, performing long and smooth inhalations and exhalations have been associated with many physical and psychical benefits such as slowing of an aggravated heart rate along with the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system that allows the body-mind to rest and helps in effective management of the stress.
Each breath you take is a chance for you to release, to let prana flow through you, and to develop compassion in the heart and health. Here are the five excellent pranayama breathing techniques to help you relax and bring some calm and wellness to your life.
1. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anulom-Vilom/Nadi Shodhana): Alternate nostril pranayama breathing exercise is great to begin the day as it clears and calms the mind. A few minutes in this practice can make you feel completely balanced and focused.
Steps: Sit tall in Easy Pose (Sukhasana) or on a chair. Relax your face and shoulders. For the hand mudra: close the index and middle finger down to touch the palm. Begin with the right thumb lightly pressing and closing the right nostril. Breathe in through the left nostril, count the breaths taken in and hold it for four seconds. Then, close the left nostril with your ring finger and release the thumb from the right nostril. Exhale longer from the right nostril. Again, inhale through the right nose, retain the breath, and exhale through the left. This is one cycle.
2. Bumble Bee Breathing (Bhramari Pranayama): Practice bumblebee breathing for tranquilizing the mind and for inspiring creative ideas. It is one of the best pranayama breathing techniques for instantly getting rid of agitation, frustration, and anger. Take up the practice of Bhramari Pranayama for de-stressing yourself.
Steps: Choose a spacious and comfortable place to practice the Bhramari breathing. Sit on a yoga mat and cross your legs at the shins. Use your fingertips to cover the eyelids and thumbs to close the ears. Inhale deeply through the nose and as you exhale, make long and slow humming sound. Let the humming sound similar to the buzz of the bee reverberate in your head for a calming effect. Repeat 3-4 times. As you practice this pranayama technique, focus on your third eye.
3. Victorious or Ocean Breathing (Ujjayi Pranayama): “You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the oceans.” ~ Alan Watts. The ocean breath is one of the simple and effective pranayama breathing exercises that is used for connecting the yoga postures. It effects are calming yet energizing for the whole body, including the mind and spirit.
Steps: Sit in a relaxed position. Take deep, slow, and active inhalations, and let the exhalations out naturally. Softly whisper the ‘ahh’ sound every time you exhale. Close the eyes and feel how your breath makes the sound of an ocean. During the practice of this technique, make sure you completely fill your lungs with inhalations and completely release the air during exhalations.
4. Breath of Fire (Kapalbhati Pranayama): Breath of Fire is popularly known as Skull-Shining Breathing (Kapalbhati Pranayama). It is a cleansing breathing technique that invigorates the mind and helps in building core inner strength.
Steps: Sit up tall and lengthen the space between the navel and the heart. Breathe in and out through the nose. Draw your abdomen in during the exhalation and out during the inhalation. Make your breathing loud and quick. Try to equalize the strength and length of your inhales and exhales. Do not practice this breathing exercise if you struggle with vertigo or high blood pressure and it should be avoided by the pregnant women.
5. Bellows Breathing (Bhastrika Pranayama): Bellows breathing is an energetic pranayama exercise highly suitable for negating the sluggish feelings. This breathing method is also highly beneficial in weight loss, powering up the digestive system, and boosting the metabolism.
Steps: Practice Bhastrika pranayama in a seated position. As you breathe in, fill up the lungs and breathe out through the nose. Keep yourself relaxed during the practice of bellows breathing.
Relax and refresh with these five pranayama breathing exercises in stressful and uneasy situations.
To Know more about Pranayama Breathing Exercises, join yoga teacher training in India.