Types of Pranayama

Pranayama is the fourth limb of the eight limb of yoga. It is ancient and commonly practiced breathing technique among yoga practitioners. By practicing Pranayama, it impacts the body’s cardiovascular system by regulating the heartbeat. With a long, deep and steady breaths as encouraged by pranayamas, we slow the heart rate down. Living beings with slow heart beats tend to lead a generally longer life as compared to those with faster heart rates. The term Pranayama literally means “expansion of life force (prana) and its purpose is to improve the body’s capacity to retain prana in the body”. Not all breathing exercise is classified as Pranayama.

Taking breathing exercise like Anulom Vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is often confused as a Pranayama, however it is not classified as a Pranayama but rather the preparation to Pranayama Nadi Shodhana. Anulom Vilom is a breathing exercise that helps to distribute oxygen evenly to both hemisphere of the brain. This breathing exercise stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system producing a soothing and calming effect on the mind and breath.

The difference between Nadi Shodhana and Anulom Vilom – or in general between Pranayama and breathing exercises – is that Nadi Shodhana includes retention or holding the breath after exhalation and the use of Bandhas or Locks.

The purpose of using locks is to control the flow of energy or prana. There are 3 types of locks:

  • Mulabandha (Root Lock): contracting the muscles between the pubic bone and the pelvic bone
  • Uddiyana Bandha (Abdominal Lock): after a complete exhalation, expand the rib cage as if you were to inhale but don’t actually inhale. Suck the abdominal muscles and viscera in and up, hollowing the belly
  • Jalandhara Bandha (Chin Lock): dropping the chin to the neck so the throat is closed

The mulabandha lock is in my opinion, the hardest to master as it wakens the muscle that is hardly used in our daily lives. 





Anulom Vilom/ Nadi Shodhana

Improves blood circulation & concentration

Prevent heart, arteries, lungs neurological, gastric and depression problems.

Provide relaxation to body and mind. Strengthens and tones your nervous system.

Pregnant women should avoid over straining.

Practiced on an empty stomach or 4-5hr after food.

It should be done in the morning or evening or both.

Chin Mudra

Vishnu Mudra or Nasagra Mudra

Mula Bandha

Jalandhara Bandha

Uddiyana Bandha

Bhastrika Pranayama

It improves blood circulation.

Prevents heart, lungs, obesity, arthritis, throat, asthma, gastric, head, neurological problems.

Provide relaxation to body and mind.

Improves your concentration and appetite

Perform slowly for those suffering from lungs and heart problems and high blood pressure.

Inhale and exhale with a hissing sound

Kapalbhati Pranayama

It improves the function of the lungs, respiratory system, reproductive system, pancreas, kidneys, constipation.

It removes toxins from the body and helps to clean the internal system.

Calms the mind and bring stability in mind.

Cures breast cancer.

Helpful in reducing weight (Belly fat).

Keeps depression away and brings positive thoughts.

Perform slowly for those suffering from lungs and heart problems and high blood pressure.

Pregnant women avoid this Pranayama

Air from lungs is forcefully exhaled. But inhalation is made involuntarily.

Bahya pranayama

Solves constipation, Acidity, Gastric problem, Hernia, Prostate problems, Diabetes

People with heart, blood pressure or cervical problems should avoid.

Women during moon cycle should avoid.

Pranayama should be done on empty stomach or 5hrs after meal.

Mula Bandha

Jalandhara Bandha

Uddiyana Bandha

Bhramari Pranayama (Humming Bee)

It relieve tension, anger and anxiety. Prevents hypertension and cures sinus, nervous system and blood pressure problems.

Brings calmness and stability to the mind.

During pregnancy it is very helpful for pregnant women for easy and trouble free childbirth.

People having heart problems should not hold their breath for long time.

Pranayama should be done on empty stomach or 5hr after meal

Stop practice when feeling dizzy.

Press your tragus with your thumb.

Place your index fingers on the forehead and with the remaining fingers close your eyes.

Udgeeth pranayama (Omkari Japa)

Brings calmness and stability to the mind. Relieves tension, anger and anxiety.

Relieves problems related to hypertension, insomnia, nightmares, high blood pressure, nervous system and stomach acidity.

Improves memory.

Everyone can practice this pranayama.

Pranayama should be done on empty stomach or 5hrs after meal and any time whenever you feel stress.

Try to lengthen the inhale and exhale duration.

Pranav Pranayama

Relieves mental stress and strengthen the mind.

Increases concentration.

Helps in spiritual development

Pranayama should be practiced early in the morning on an empty stomach.


Hope these would be useful! 




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