Physiological value of pranayama

Pranayama helps in putting a good effect on main systems of the body which are nervous, endocrine, respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems of the body and it helps in keeping all the symptoms in harmony.

It is important to know why do we breathe?

Two processes are absolutely essential in the life which are :

  • Absorption of air by inhaling oxygen.
  • Expulsion of air by exhaling carbon dioxide.

Human body is constantly at work, even when you think your body is resting…its still continuously working even when you sleep.

How to breathe properly?

Breathing is living and our entire life is dependent on breathing.

All living things breathe to stay alive. While we can live without eating food but we cannot live without breathing.

Life is nothing but a series of breath which we take till we are on this planet earth.

I am not sure if most people know about this or no but they breathe from their clavicle which means the upper part of the chest and the remaining ones breathe from their thorax. In either ways, your breathing is incomplete.

Yogic’s declare that 3 types of breathing should be combined to make it as a complete breathing which includes :
  • Breathing from diaphragm or abdomen.
  • Breathing from thorax or median.
  • Breathing from clavicle or upper chest.

Combination of this becomes a single breathing pattern.

It is very important for you to know that you inhale and exhale with your nose and not your mouth.

Your nostrils have those small hair which helps in preventing the impurities or dust particles to enter your body.

They work like your body guard!

There is a hindu saying that nose is to breathe and mouth is to eat and people have started using their mouth to breathe which is causing all the health problems in human body.

Lets talk about different steps of yogic breathing :

(1) Breathing from abdomen

Standing or Sitting or Lying on the back

  • Put the hands lightly on the abdomen so that you can feel the movements.
  • During inhalation, abdomen should expand a little as the lower part of the lungs fills up with air.
  • During exhalation, abdomen should shrink again and this process should be repeated several times.
  • 5 times a day is what is preferable.
  • Works as an massage to the internal organs which again stimulates digestion.

(2) Breathing from middle part of the chest (thorax)

Standing or Sitting or Lying on the back

  • Put your hands on either side of ribs, make sure you dont press your ribs.
  • Slowly inhale, inflate both sides and then when you exhale it should contract and repeat it several times.
  • 5 times a day is what is preferable.
  • This helps in purifies the blood, helps in improving the blood circulation and gives relaxes heart pressure.

(3) Breathing from upper part of the chest

Standing or Sitting or Lying on the back

  • Put your hands on each side of the clavicle (upper chest) touching it with fingers.
  • Contract your stomach slightly.
  • Inhale slowly pushing the upper chest upwards and then begin to exhale pushing it downwards, repeat this several times.
  • 10 times a day is what is preferable.
  • It helps in thoroughly cleaning your lungs and detoxifies your clavicle (upper chest).

Lets learn more about different parts of pranayama:

(1) Kumbhaka Pranayama

Kumbhaka Pranayama

Retention of the breath

  • Be careful about breath being held, dont suffocate yourself.
  • Once this exercise is over you should breath properly without any slightest effort.
  • Dont perform this exercise if you have any lung or heart ailment.

How to do it?

  • Sit in a cross legged position or lotus position.
  • Inhale in the breathing pattern as explained above and then hold your breath for 6-30 seconds and add for one second each day till you reach 32 seconds.
  • Once exhaling then follow the routine.
  • This helps in increasing the capacity to breathe.
  • It also acts effectively on the respiratory organs.

(2) Anulom Vilom Pranayama or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama


Alternate breathing

Nadi signifies a channel allowing the passage of vital energy of prana.

According to yogic experience, inhaling with right nostril produces heat in the body and inhaling by left produces cold in the body. That is why right nostril is called a sun nostril and left nadi is called moon nostril.

  • Those suffering from cardiac complaints like high blood pressure or those with weak lungs should not practice this without proper guidance.

How to do it?

  • Sit in Padmasana position or cross legged position.
  • Place the index finger of right hand in the center of forehead between the eyebrows.
  • One should begin by exhaling completely then close the right nostril with thumb and inhale through left nostril counting 5 heartbeats and hold it for about 15 counts and then open the other nostril.
  • Repeat this process.
  • Helps in maintaining the equilibrium in the body.
  • Helps in proper flowing of currents with positive and negative currents.
  • Helps in curing headaches.

(3) Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi Pranayama

Also called as energy renewing pranayama. Excellent feature of pranayama, glottis (part of larynx) is half closed.

It produces low sound throughout the breathing exercises.

  • Do not contract facial muscles.
  • Do not contract your nose.
  • Do not hold your breath.
  • Exhale twice, inhalation is one.

How to do it?

  • Sit in padmasana, siddhasana or cross legged position.
  • If you are unable to sit in this position then you can also do this exercise in standing position.
  • Once you exhale the breath contained in the lungs completely, your glottis which the part of larynx will b partially closed and the air will be inhaled through the nose while expanding your chest.
  • You have to make sure that your abdominal muscles or your core is absolutely in your control and it is contracted slightly with your inhalation.
  • The air which you breathe in has to exhaled through your glottis which is partially closed along with your abdominal muscles completely in your control.
  • Exercise should be repeated only 3 times and add a repetition every weak.
  • This helps in improving digestion.
  • Helps in improving coughing if any.
  • This works a prevention as well.
  • It strengthens the circulatory as well as the nervous systems.
  • Low blood pressure can be raised to normal level with ujjayi.
  • Practice under strict supervision if you are a bp and a cardiac patient.

(4) Kapalbhati Pranayama


Also called as a breathing that revitalises the body.

If we split the word, kapal in sanskrit means skull and bhati in sanskrit means shine.

It is one of the 6 exercises for purification included in hatha yoga.

The main object to purify the channels inside the nose is the nostrils.

  • People suffering from cardiac or pulmonary issues should only form kapalbhati pranayama under strict supervision.
  • Other healthy people who feel slightest of the fatigue should consult their health care professional to take proper guidance.
  • Kapalbhati Pranayama is a respiratory exercise done for abdomen and diaphragm which can be either performed in the sitting position or lotus position or cross legged position or hands on knees which is also called as vajrasan.
  • In all the other breathing exercises the focus is mostly on inhalation, exhalation and relaxation all together but when we talk about kapalbhati it only focuses on exhalation. This exercise doesn’t include any deep breathing.
  • Once you expand your chest or the thoracic cage then do not move, just make the abdominal muscles work (your core muscles).
  • The air filling in the thoracic cage is expelled completely then do it continuously without any pause and start moving your abdominal muscles with 5-7 jerks.
  • This exercise helps in eliminating the toxins from the body by filling up the blood with oxygen and purifying tissues/nerves in the body.
  • This also helps in clearing the nasal cavity and lungs.
  • It is actually used as a remedy against lymphatic system deficiencies and mucus which is formed in the lungs and cavities.
  • It helps in expelling the harmful bacteria out of the body.
  • Solar plexus gets recharged with the energy and digestive system starts working properly.
  • Kapalbhati Pranayama also has a very good effect in the concentration so its very good for kids during examination!

(5) Bhastrika Pranayama

Bhastrika Pranayama

This is called as bellows.

If i talk about this exercise, this is basically a combination of ujjayi pranayama and kapalbhati pranayama.

It basically starts with kapalbhati pranayama and it finally ends with ujjayi pranayama.

  • This type of pranayama must be practised with guidance and if there is any slightest fatigue then please stop doing the exercise.
  • If you have any cardiac issues or B.P. issues please do this exercise under expert guidance.

How to do it?

  • Sit in cross legged or lotus position.
  • Air is expelled out of the lungs with jerks as it is explained in the kapalbhati pranayama.
  • After you are done with certain exhalations depending upon your capacity, take a deep breath and close the epiglottis partially like we do it in ujjayi.
  • Held the air in one of the nostril and close the other one with the thumb and keep repeating this process for few times and then expel the air out of the lungs completely.
  • Do the rhythm of 1:2:2.
  • You can also try this exercise without closing the glotis.
  • This helps in spreading the warmth inside the body which helps in removing the toxins and helps in maintaining the purifying effect in the body.
  • Digestion helps in improving the general experiences of living .

Try out these tips to improve your breathing pattern!

There is more to pranayama coming up!

Keep reading!

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Dr. Trishala Chopra

With varied degrees, Trishala Chopra gets a complete hold in her subject! She is currently pursuing her doctorate in the field of alternative therapies and her diploma in sports nutrition. Her knowledge in the field of naturopathy,yoga, ayurveda, clinical nutrition, nutraceuticals makes her a complete package of knowledge!

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