Hatha Yoga breathing exercises

Dirga Pranayama

the 3 part breath or complete breath

calming and relaxing

Dirga Pranayama is called the three part breath because you are actively breathing into three parts of your abdomen. The first position is the low belly (on top of or just below the belly button), the second position is the low chest (lower half of the rib cage), and the third position is the low throat (just above the top of the sternum). The breath is continuous, inhaled and exhaled through the nose. The inhalation starts in the first position, the low belly; then moves to the second position, the low chest; then to the third position, the low throat. The exhalation starts in the low throat, moves to the low chest, and finishes in the low belly.Rest your hands on the individual positions to feel the breath rising and falling through each position. When you start practicing, you may want to individually isolate the movement in each position, using the hands. When you have a good feel for the breath moving in and out of each position, practice without the hands. Eventually relax the effort of the Pranayama and breathe into the three positions gently, feeling a wave of breath move up and down the torso.

Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi Pranayama is called the ocean sounding breath because you make an ocean sound by contracting the glottis with the inhalation and exhalation. This Pranayama is done through the nose, but it is helpful to begin practicing breathing through the mouth. To make the ocean sound, whisper the syllable "h," feeling the contraction in your throat. Keep this contraction engaged on the inhalation and exhalation. After a couple of breaths try to close the mouth, breathing through the nose while still making the ocean sound in your throat

Nadi Sodhana Pranayama

alternate nostril breathing

balancing, calming, anti-anxiety, and very relaxing

Bhramari Pranayama

Place the right hand in Vishnu Mudra (forefinger and middle finger bent towards the palm; thumb, ring, and pinkie in the air). To do one round: close off right nostril with the thumb and inhale into the left nostril; close left nostril with ring and pinkie fingers, open the right nostril and exhale through the right, then inhale into the right nostril; close the right nostril, open the left, and exhale through the left nostril. Continue, doing 5-20 rounds.

the breath of fire or the skull shining breath

invigorating, energizing, and purifying

Kapalabhati is a very active, forced exhalation with a passive inhalation. To exhale, the belly quickly pumps into the spine forcing the air out of the nose (like trying to blow out a candle through you nose). Place a hand on your belly to feel the belly actively pumping. Play with the tempo (45-60 exhalations/30 seconds), but keep a steady rhythm. Start with 2-3 rounds of 30 exhalations, and gradually increase the exhalations if comfortable.

Pregnancy, menstruation, unmedicated high blood pressure, recent abdominal surgery.

Sit Cari Pranayama

the hissing breath

cools the body

Curl the tongue touching the roof of the mouth as far back as you can to the soft pallet. As you inhale clench the teeth together and slightly part the lips making a hissing "ssss" sound. Exhale through both nostrils. Repeat 5-10 times

Shitali Pranayama

the cooling breath

cools the body

Roll the tongue into a tube (as best as you can) and stick the tip of the tongue out of the mouth. Inhale through the tongue and hold the breath in for 4-5 seconds with the chin pressed against the chest. Exhale using Ujjayi Pranayama through the nose. Repeat 5-10 times.




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