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Pranayama For Beginners: An Introduction

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Pranayama is one of the most vital and commonly used exercises in yoga. It is very beginner friendly, and here are some beginner-friendly ways to start it.

Medically reviewed by

Shakti Mishra

Published At June 29, 2023
Reviewed AtApril 3, 2024


Pranayama is a breathing exercise that practices breathing in the right way and is used as a therapy. Pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit words called 'prana' and 'ayama', where prana means breath and ayama means expansion. As the name suggests, pranayama helps one control and concentrate one's breathing, which in turn expands lung capacity. This type of yoga is also believed to refresh the mind, improving one’s concentration and calmness. Pranayama is one of the basic forms of yoga that is included while practicing almost all yoga forms and achieving breath control. Pranayama is practiced in different variants and types that concentrate specifically on targeted body parts.

What Is Pranayama?

Pranayama is a very ancient yogic method that is practiced to control the breaths and regulate them at a desired frequency, length, and time. Pranayama concentrates on connecting the mind and body in one and bringing them into orientation, whereas pranayama is also known to supply the required amount of oxygen, clean the body from toxins, and promote healing through physiological effects. Pranayama is done in three stages, and these stages are:

  • Inhalation (Puraka): This means inhaling the air through the nostrils.

  • Retention (Kumbhaka): This is done by holding the inhaled air within.

  • Exhalation (Rechaka): This is done by slowly releasing the inhaled air that is now in the lungs.

In pranayama, the prana, or breath, is considered more than just breath but rather a source of energy that passes in and out of the body, connecting with all the core sources of the body. Improper handling of the breath may result in harmful effects on the body, and hence, it is important to concentrate on one’s breathing.

What Are the Types of Pranayama?

Although pranayama is a very simple form of yoga, it is a very old and potent asana and is believed to be done on an empty stomach. However, pranayama comes with a lot of variations that can be performed. There are four types of pranayama, and they are:

1. Humming Bee Breath (Bhramari Pranayama): People, in general, are overthinkers, and with an increased prevalence of anxiety, there is a constant mind buzz that leads to sleep deprivation and various health symptoms. To balance that, this type of pranayama is done to relax and calm one's mind. This yoga is a beginner-friendly yogic method with medical benefits like reducing hypertension, stress, and migraines. This exercise is done by sitting erect and closing the eyes. The fingers are placed in the tragus, nose, and forehead, partially pressing the nose and breathing through the nose in short breaths by making a humming sound. This exercise is repeated five to ten times with controlled breathing.

2. Skull Shining Breath (Kapalbhati Pranayama): The meaning of Kapalbhati Pranayama is derived from a Sanskrit word where 'Kapal' means forehead and 'Kapalbhati' means "shining forehead" or 'shine'. This asana is considered one of the most important asanas in pranayama, and although it is not a beginner-friendly exercise, it is still shown to be highly beneficial and moderately easy for beginners. This yogic method focuses on the cleansing of the internal organs and strengthening the chest. This is done by placing an arm in the belly and inhaling air in short, forceful inhalations in moderate spaces, followed by an exhalation. This can be done repetitively for around eight to ten times.

3. Bellows Breath (Bhastrika Pranayama): This yoga is done to activate and energize one’s system, as it is done by consecutive inhalation and exhalation that allows a forceful surge of air within the system. The name Bhastrika pranayama is a Sanskrit word that means rapid emptying and filling of breaths into the system. By doing so, the forceful activation makes the brain more active, revitalizing the body from mental fatigue. This yoga is done by sitting erect in a position with legs crossed, spine straight, and diaphragm erect. Slow, sustained, but intense breaths are taken alternately by inhalation and exhalation. The benefits of Bhastrika pranayama are;

  • It helps reduce stress and anxiety.

  • Clears chest and nasal passages.

  • Improves blood circulation and oxygen levels in the body.

  • Keeps a person alert and aware of one’s being and surroundings.

4. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhan Pranayama): Alternate nostril breathing, or Nadis Shodhan asana, is done by breathing through alternate nostrils. This asana is done by placing the thumb on one nostril, blocking the other, and breathing through the other. This is done for a count of eight to ten times, followed by the other nostril. By doing so, it cleanses the nasal canals, boosting energy and creating physical and mental balance. The breathing technique is beginner friendly and helps in calming the mind and improving one’s concentration.

What Are the Advantages of Pranayama?

As discussed above, pranayama is one of the most comfortable and beginner-friendly asanas that benefits a person at various levels of physical and mental health. Some of the benefits of pranayama are:

  • Regulates breathing.

  • Improves lung capacity and quality of breathing.

  • Reduces stress.

  • Calms down the mind.

  • Reduces increase in blood pressure.

  • Improves the orientation and alertness of a person.

  • Promotes sleep.

  • Helps in the addiction to narcotics.

  • Reduces anxiety and overthinking.

  • Reduces brain fog and cloudiness.


The discussion of pranayama and its benefits has given us an outline of the asana and its importance. Out of all the asanas, pranayama is considered a very beginner-friendly asana and is of great significance when it comes to nasal and brain health. Also, controlling one’s breath is an important core factor in yoga that benefits the patient with mindfulness and relaxation. Pranayama is proven to be beneficial in managing various systemic conditions that involve the blood, lungs, nasal tract, brain, and abdomen, where it mainly aims at connecting the body and soul with the mind. Although different pranayama types are present that target different goals, all the asanas are united as one that benefits the individual well, aims to eliminate stressfull thoughts and mental clouding, and energizes one by improving lung capacity and breathing quality.

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Shakti Mishra
Shakti Mishra



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