7 Type of Pranayama for Beginners (Explained)

Breathing is the most natural activity of our body as we engage in it from the moment we are born yet many of us ignore its potential for improving our health and well-being. Pranayama is the ancient yogic practice of breath control which gives us better health, calmer mind, and deeper spiritual connection. In this article we will explore 7 types of Pranayama for beginners that are perfect to embark on a transformative journey of pranayama.

What Is Pranayama?

According to Swami Swatmarama as explained in chapter 2 verse 2 of Hatha Yoga Pradipika. He shares the deep meaning behind what is pranayama and its purpose. The states that when the breath moves, the mind also moves. When the breath remains steady, the mind is steady as well. Thus by controlling the breath a yogi can achieve a state of steadiness and calmness. The yogi becomes steady and firm. Therefore, the breath should be controlled.

Pranayama is the control of Breath. “Prana ” is Breath in the body. On subtle levels prana refers to the vital energy or life force, and “ayama” means control. Thus pranayama means control of vital energy. 

Pranayama is the fourth Limb of Ashtanga Yoga following the Yamas, Niyamas and Asanas. Pranayama is the regulation of the breath through certain breathing techniques. Prana is vital energy, and ayama is control and extension of Pranic energy.

In Hatha Yoga Pradipika Swami Swatmarama talks about Pranayama as the way to awaken the kundalini energy, regular practice of Pranayama can lead to spiritual awakening and self-realization. He describes various types of Pranayama techniques which have different effects on the body, mind and spirit.

The Four Aspects of Pranayama (Breath Control)

  1. Inhalation (puraka)
  2. Internal retention (antara-kumbhaka)
  3. Exhalation (rechaka)
  4. External retention (bahya-khumbaka)

The exhalation is the most important part of the pranayama practice, only after a complete exhalation we can fully inhale.

List Of 7 Types of Pranayama Technique for Beginners:

There are many types of pranayama techniques but mainly 7 types of pranayama are mentioned in the texts, each designed to enhance the health and functions of different parts of the body. Below is the list of types of pranayama techniques for beginners with complete steps and health benefits.

  1. Anuloma Viloma Pranayama
  2. Kapalabhati Pranayama
  3. Bhramari Pranayama
  4. Sheetali Pranayama
  5. Sheetkari Pranayama
  6. Bhastrika Pranayama 
  7. Ujjayi Pranayama

1. Anuloma Viloma Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

Steps:

  • Sit comfortably with your spine upright.
  • Use your right thumb to close your right nostril then inhale through the left nostril.
  • Now close the left nostril and open the right and exhale through the right. 
  • Now inhale through the right again, close the right and exhale through the left.
  • Inhale through the left, close the left and exhale through the right.

Benefits:

  • Balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
  • Enhances concentration, mental focus, and calmness.
  • Improves respiratory strength and reduces stress.

2. Kapalabhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breath)

Steps:

  • Sit with a straight spine and take a few deep breaths to settle.
  • Inhale normally and exhale forcefully through the nose by contracting the abdominal muscles.
  • Let the inhalation happen passively by relaxing the abdominal muscles.
  • Repeat this cycle at a fast pace.

Benefits:

  • Cleanses the lungs and nasal passages.
  • Stimulates abdominal organs and improves digestion.
  • Energizes the mind and body.

3. Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breathing)

Steps:

  • Sit comfortably with your eyes closed.
  • Close your ears with your thumbs and place your fingers over your eyes.
  • Inhale deeply then with exhalation make a humming sound like a bee.

Benefits:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety and calm the mind.
  • Improves concentration and memory.
  • Helpful in insomnia and sleeping issues.

4. Sheetali Pranayama (Cooling Breath)

Steps:

  • Find in a comfortable position with your eyes closed.
  • Stick out your tongue and roll it like a tube.
  • Inhale through the tongue, close your mouth, then exhale through the nose.

Benefits:

  • Reduces the excessive heat from the body.
  • Calms the mind and soothes the digestive system.
  • Helps to manage high blood pressure.

5. Sheetkari Pranayama (Hissing Breath)

Steps:

  • Sit comfortably with your teeth together and lips slightly open like you are smiling.
  • Inhale through the teeth, making a hissing sound, then close the mouth and exhale through the nose.

Benefits:

  • Similar to Sheetali, it cools down the body heat.
  • Relieves insomnia, indigestion, and anxiety.

6. Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellows Breath)

Steps:

  • Find a comfortable seat and let your hands rest over your thighs
  • Take a deep breath in and forcefully exhale, then inhale with the same force.
  • Continue this rapid and rhythmic inhalation and exhalation, like a bellows.

Benefits:

  • It increases the oxygen levels in the blood.
  • Energizes the entire system.
  • Improves digestion and helps to focus the mind.

7. Ujjayi Pranayama (Ocean Breath)

Steps:

  • Begin in a seated position with a straight back.
  • Inhale deeply through the nose, as you exhale through your nose contract your throat to create a soft “ocean” sound as you exhale through the nose.

Benefits:

  • Induces relaxation and helps in stress management.
  • Increases the amount of oxygen in the blood.
  • Useful in maintaining body temperature and building energy.
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