Pranayamas are breathing exercises developed by the ancient yogis for purification. Prana translates into “life force energy” and Yama translates into “control or mastery of.” Thus, Pranyama is used to control, cultivate, and modify the Prana in the body. Prana is taken in through the air we breathe, and since the pranayama exercises increase the amount of air we take in, they also increase our intake of Prana.
For most pranayamas, the breath is slow and steady, breathed in and out of the nose and down into the belly. Always sit with a straight spine and a relaxed body. While you are practicing Pranayama, let go of any thoughts by focusing on the type of breathing involved with the pranayama.
Audio: Intro to Pranayama
Use the player below to stream a low-fi instructional audio track for this practice:
The victory or ocean sounding breath is focusing, grounding, and aids in concentration. Ujjayi Pranayama is called the ocean sounding breath because you make an ocean sound by contracting the… Read More→
Alternate nostril breathing is balancing, calming, anti-anxiety, and very relaxing. Place the right hand in Vishnu Mudra (forefinger and middle finger bent towards the palm; thumb, ring, and pinkie in… Read More→
The breath of fire or the skull shining breath is invigorating, energizing, and purifying. Kapalabhati is a very active, forced exhalation with a passive inhalation. To exhale, the belly quickly… Read More→
The bellows breath is warming, energizing, and purifying.
New to Yoga?
To get the most out of our site, we suggest you take some time to explore before jumping into the practice. Browse our yoga 101 section for general info on the history and types of yoga, then start exploring asanas the physical postures used in hatha yoga. Remember to breathe and always start your yoga practice with a brief meditation. If you are new to yoga, please read our Yoga for Beginner’s page
Without intention, all these postures, these breathing practices, meditations, and the like can become little more than ineffectual gestures. When animated by intention, however, the simplest movement, the briefest meditation, and the contents of one breath cycle are made potent.