The Hows and Whys on Starting Yogic Breathing

Yoga breathing has numerous benefits and numerous associated breathing techniques. here are the top techniques to try out when you want to start.

Yoga breathing technique, known as pranayama, is essential for cultivating ease and bliss in yoga practice and daily life. Here are the top five pranayama techniques to explore:

5. Vritti

Vritti involves regulating the duration of inhalations and exhalations. Vishama Vritti focuses on uneven breathing, while Sama Vritti promotes even breathing.

Observing the Breath: Start by simply observing the natural flow of your breath, bringing mindful awareness and relaxation.

Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing): This technique balances the energy channels by alternating the breath through each nostril.

Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath): Energize the body with rapid, forceful exhalations followed by passive inhalations to cleanse and invigorate.

Ujjayi Breathing: Known as the “Victorious Breath,” it involves slightly constricting the back of the throat during breaths, creating a gentle sound and deepening the breath.

Explore these pranayama techniques to enhance your yoga practice and experience the benefits of conscious breathing.

4. Chandra Bhedana

The moon-piercing breath, known as Chandra Bhedana, is performed in a comfortable seated position like Asana.

Begin with Ujjani breathing to establish the rhythm. Place your right hand on your face and close the right nostril. Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril. Close both nostrils, hold the breath, and then exhale through the right nostril. This completes one cycle. Ensure that the exhalation is longer than the inhalation. Repeat as many cycles as comfortable, up to thirty minutes.

Chandra Bhedana is calming and centering, opposite to Suryabeda breathing. It is excellent for relaxation before sleep and to alleviate anxiety before events like meetings or conferences.

Benefits of this breath include improved circulation of body heat, revitalization, and overcoming feelings of laziness and depression.

3. Surya-bheda

Surya Bheda, which translates to “piercing the sun,” is a yoga breathing technique that focuses on inhaling through the right nostril. It is believed to help with heart issues, activate bodily functions, and balance body temperature.

To practice Surya Bheda, begin with Ujjayi breathing to establish a rhythm. Then, using your left hand, block the left nostril and inhale slowly and deeply through the right nostril. Close both nostrils, hold the breath, and exhale through the left nostril. This completes one cycle. Repeat this cycle for up to thirty minutes, according to your comfort level.

Surya Bheda is said to enhance vitality by channeling life force energy through the right nostril. Incorporate this breathing technique into your practice to experience its potential benefits.

2. Kapalbhati

Kapalabhati, also known as “the skull breathing” or “the breath of fire,” is a powerful yoga breathing technique.

To practice Kapalabhati, start with Ujjayi breathing to establish a rhythm. After an exhalation, draw in your breath halfway and then forcefully exhale through your nose in quick bursts, allowing the inhalation to occur naturally. Perform 25 rounds of these forceful exhalations, and then take a full inhalation, hold for a moment, and release the breath gently. Begin with one or two rounds and gradually increase the duration as you integrate this technique into your practice. Kapalabhati is known to energize the body, oxygenate the blood, and create a sense of exhilaration.

This pranayama technique also offers various benefits. It is believed to improve metabolism, blood circulation, and digestion. Additionally, it may help tone and strengthen the abdominal muscles, leading to a flatter stomach. Kapalabhati is thought to support healthy lung function, aid digestion, boost the immune system, and invigorate the mind. Incorporate this ancient breathing technique into your practice to experience its potential benefits.

1. Ujjayi

Ujjayi, also known as the “victorious breath” or “oceanic breath,” is a traditional yogic breathing technique that helps synchronize movement with breath.

To practice Ujjayi, breathe in and out through your nose while slightly constricting the back of your throat, creating a gentle and audible sound. This sound can resemble the wind rustling through trees, the rhythmic waves of the ocean, or even the breathing of Darth Vader, as some practitioners humorously describe. Ujjayi is a foundational pranayama practice and it is beneficial to become comfortable with it before exploring other breathing techniques. By incorporating Ujjayi into your yoga practice, you can deepen your connection to the breath, cultivate a sense of calm in the mind, and harmonize it with the physical movements.

According to, Ujjayi has a balancing effect on the cardio-respiratory system and promotes mental and physical relaxation.

Beyond these benefits, Ujjayi has numerous advantages. It can help lower blood pressure, increase oxygen intake, and facilitate the smooth flow of prana, or life force energy, throughout the body.

Breath is a fascinating aspect of our existence. Often, we don’t pay much attention to it until we find ourselves gasping for air during intense moments. By bringing awareness to our breath, we reconnect with our bodies on a fundamental level and create a moment of pause amidst the busyness of daily life. Remember to focus on your breath whenever possible and practice these techniques to deepen your connection to the inner stillness within you.