My Favorite Pranayama Techniques

In this Blog Post, I will share my current favorite pranayama techniques.  As I went through my meditation certification program at the Chopra Center, I learned many breathing techniques from wonderful teachers.

What is pranayama?pranayama techniques

Pranayama is the ancient practice of controlling your breath. When you consciously control the timing, duration, and frequency of your breath, you connect your body and mind.  This conscious, deep breathing also supplies your body with oxygen while removing toxins.

I learned that pranayama enhances not only meditation but many other aspects of life.  I choose different pranayama practices depending on what’s going on in my day.  For example, some breathing practices reduce stress.  Others cool you down or relieve a headache.  Still, others help you get ready for a night of restful sleep.

But on days when I am feeling well and balanced, and want a nice sequence of pranayama techniques to prepare me for meditation, I will share with you the practice I follow.


Check with your doctor before practicing pranayama.  If you ever experience dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain or any discomfort, just stop the practice, stay seated and breathe normally.

My Favorite Pranayama Techniques

I learned from master yogi, Eddie Stern, that it is beneficial to begin the practice with five resonant breaths.  He teaches us that spending just a few minutes consciously breathing sends signals of balance to our brain.   This soothing practice tells us that we are ok, and brings us into a state of calm. He says that resonant breathing is like a stress reset button.

To begin, sit with the spine erect and shoulders relaxed.

Resonant Breathing

You will take five resonant breaths through the nose.   Inhale high into the nasal cavity for a slow, relaxed count of five and then exhale for a count of five.  Repeat this for several rounds at your own pace, breathing deeply yet comfortably.  At the end of the breathing practice, relax the breath and breathe normally. 

The resonant breath balances the equilibrium of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

pranayama techniquesSingle Nostril Breathing

Begin by blocking the left nostril.  I use my right pinky finger and right index finger to block the left nostril out of respect for the Hindu tradition, where you do all auspicious things with your right hand

Keeping your left nostril closed, take a long, slow, gentle but deep inhale through the right nostril and then exhale through the right.  Repeat this several times.  I do five to ten rounds. 

Right nostril breathing can help you feel more alert and awake.  It can also bring clarity, focus, and more energy.

Then, block the right nostril and repeat the sequence through the left nostril.  Keeping your right nostril closed with your right thumb, take a long, slow, gentle but deep inhale through the left and then exhale through the left.  Repeat this the same amount of times through the left nostril as you completed on the other side.  

Left nostril breathing can help you relax.  Notice how the cooling breath brings new life into your body. Relax even deeper with each exhale as you breathe out all tension, all stress, and all disease.

When you are done, rest your hands and breathe through both nostrils.  You will notice how clean this breath feels. Single nostril breathing balances the brain hemispheres.

Nadi Shodhana; (Alternate nostril breathing) Pranayama Techniques

Close your right nostril with your right thumb and 

inhale through your left nostril all the way to the top of the breath.

Close off your left nostril and exhale through your right. Then, inhale through your right nostril all the way to the top of your breath.  Close off your right again and exhale through your left.

Then, inhale through your left; close the left and exhale through the right. Inhale through your right to the top of your breath.  Close your right; Exhale through your left nostril.

And continue to repeat this sequence for several rounds.  I typically do 4-5 rounds of Nadi Shodhana.

Now, rest your hands and breathe easily through both nostrils; noticing how your breath feels now.  Nadi Shodhana cleanses the 72,000 nadis in our body’s energy system and also balances the nervous system.


Next, prepare for Bhastrika by folding your thumbs inside closed fists. Start with your arms up over your head. 

Begin by exhaling, pulling your arms down by your ribs,  and then quickly pop your arms up again on the inhale.  Continue the action quickly and energetically.  Repeat 7-10 times in each round before resting. Don’t force it but be energetic.

After each round of Bhastrika, rest, relaxing your hands.  Take a couple of long inhales with slow exhales, relaxing the breathing on the exhale

I generally do three rounds of Bhastrika.

Bhastrika balances the 3 doshas and removes excess phlegm from the body.

Holding the Breath Out

Finally, I end the sequence with three rounds of holding the breath out on the exhale for a count of 5.

Start with a comfortable inhale and exhale through the nose.

Take a long inhale, followed by a long and slow exhale, and at the end of the exhale, when you have exhaled completely;  hold your breath out for as long as you comfortably can; perhaps a slow count of five at the end.

Then repeat this pattern two more times.  I generally do three rounds of this.

When you are done, place your hands on your knees and let the breath relax.  

Holding your breath out at the end of the exhale is pranayama taught in the yoga sutras for the stilling of the thoughts in the mind.  It is wonderful preparation for meditation.

Finish the sequence by bringing your hands to a prayer position in front of your heart center.  Rest in gratitude for the opportunity to address your entire physiology; physical body, subtle body, mental body, and spiritual body.

These pranayama breathing practices meld together very nicely.  This sequence takes me less than ten minutes.  I do it prior to afternoon meditation several days a week.  On the days I do this sequence, I notice I sleep deeply that night.

One of my yoga teachers says; If you control your breath, you can control your life.  If you would like to learn more about Pranayama and learn specific breathing techniques, enroll my free course Learn the Benefits of Pranayama Breathing 

Thank you for reading this post. Feel free to share it.  I hope you enjoyed learning about my favorite pranayama techniques. To learn more, enroll in my Soul Artist Experience courses.   Learn more.
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