Various forms of Pranayama, Part 2

As promised, below are some more types of pranayama! They are all amazing, and have wonderful benefits. I recommend that you give each of them a try and incorporate them into your yoga (asana) practice. You can also try them on their own.

Kapalabhati Pranayama/Skull Shining Breath

When performing kapalabhati pranayama, one must force their exhalations and follow up with a passive inhalation. It is recommenced that this pranayama is best performed at the beginning of a yoga session. Start in a comfortable cross-legged position, and take two or three deep inhalations and exhalations through the nose to start. Inhale about half way, excluding a full exhalation. Afterwards, exhale sharply and forcefully through the nose. During the exhalations, draw the belly into the spine.It is important to continue this cycle of forceful exhales and passive inhales at a fast pace, so that the belly is continuously pumping. If you feel lightheaded at any time, come back to normal breathing. always listen to your body and breath.

Bhastrika Pranayama

This type of pranayama involves the rapid movement of the belly. It is similar to the bellows of a blacksmith. There is equal emphasis on the exhalations, and the inhalations. As with most breath-work, start in a comfortable cross-legged position. Inhale the lungs, filling them up to the diaphragm, and exhaling with full force and emptying out the lungs Keep on repeating this cycle. Also, make sure that both the inhalations and exhalations are done with slow or medium speed. You can also go at a fast speed. It is all dependent on your practice, capacity, and state of health. If you have heart issues, Bhastrika pranayama should be done with a slower speed. Bhastrika pranayama should be done at a minimum of 2 minutes, with a maximum of 5 minutes. Visualize the divine power, energy, joy, and peace entering your body through the process of breathing.

Kumbhaka Pranayama/Retention

In sanskrit, “kumbhaka” means breath suspension. The benefits of such a pranayama are that it encourages optimal energy movement. Practitioners experience absolute fullness/emptiness and silence. Start in a comfortable posture and seated position. Bring your attention and awareness to the abdominal area and the spine. Take 2-3 deep breath cycles. Take a full inhale, and then exhale completely Try to keep yourself from inhaling unless you truly feel the need to. It is important to remember that this process can be reversed. Kumbhaka pranayama can be practiced for as low as 30 seconds. However, it should not surpass 2 minutes.