Thursday, March 19, 2009

Breathing Techniques | Anulom-Vilom and Pranayama

Yoga Breathing Techniques

Pranayama is one of the five basic principals of yoga. It refers to the practice of breathing fully and correctly. Pranayama is a Sanskrit word. It is comprised of two parts - “prana” meaning “life force” and “yama” meaning “control.” Put the two together and the word pranayama describes the control of life force.

Usually, we don’t utilize our lung capacity; we take shallow, uneven breaths. This has a negative impact on our health. Through pranayama techniques, we learn to breathe fully again.
Pranayama involves a series of deep breathing exercises which aim at increasing the oxygen flow to the organs in the body. It helps both physical and mental health – deep breathing exercises various organs in the body, including the chest, abdomen, lungs, kidney, heart, diaphragm, and intestines. It also ensures mental clarity, as it induces a deep sense of calm.

The basics of pranayama are:
  • Inhale – deep inhalation boosts the supply of oxygen to the lungs and the other organs of the body
  • Retain Breath – this ensures optimal oxygen absorption
  • Exhale – deep exhalation helps to dispel toxins and other waste completely out of the system
Done properly and regularly, pranayama can keep a number of illnesses at bay. The body is purified, blood circulation is improved and the nervous system is strengthened. It is also very effective to beat stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and boost energy. While there are six types of pranayama, one of the most commonly practiced forms is Anulom-Vilom Pranayama.


Anulom-Vilom is one of the types of pranayama. It is also known as the alternative nostril breathing technique. In this style you inhale through one nostril, retain the breath and exhale through the other nostril. If practiced daily, this technique proves extremely beneficial for health.

Anulom-Vilom follows a very simple technique:
  • Sit in the lotus or thunderbolt position (if you can’t manage to sit down, sit on a chair).
  • Close your eyes and relax
  • Using your right thumb, close your right nostril
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril
  • Close your left nostril with your ring and middle finger
  • Breathe out of the right nostril
  • Again, inhale through your right nostril, closing your left
  • Close your right nostril and breathe out through the left nostril
This is one round of Anulom-Vilom pranayama. Repeat the cycle for 10-15 minutes.

Anulom-Vilom has a very positive impact on health: it is good to combat allergies; it controls sinuses, its a kind of yoga for snoring, and high blood pressure; it eases migraines, insomnia and depression; and it corrects digestive disorders. It is also beneficial for heart patients.