Pranayama Breathing Techniques

Three Part Yogic Breath is the essential breathing technique we use to prepare ourselves for and during our asana, mediation, chanting, or further pranayama practice. Expanding and contracting our diaphragm to breath deeply and with full awareness, helps us to come to the present moment, to take control over our mind and our emotions, increase mental stamina during challenging poses, and enter a calm state of mind before savasana.

Nadi Shodhana also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing, or as Anulom Vilom pranayama, is a powerful breathing technique that prepares us in a deeper way than the basic diaphragm breathing for our meditation or savasana. It helps release accumulated tension and fatigue. The breathing technique is used to clear out blocked energy channels in the body, which in turn quiets the mind and harmonizes emotions. On an advanced level nadi shodhana can be practiced in combination with bandhas and breath retention.

(nadi = subtle energy channel; shodhan = cleaning, purification; pranayama = breathing technique)

Kapalbhati Pranayama is an intermediate breathing technique also known as  Skull Shining Breath, and Breath of Fire in Kundalini tradition. Kapalbhati combines a forceful exhalation with a passive, automatic inhalation. It is a highly energizing abdominal breathing technique bringing oxygen into the entire body, thus sometimes causing a slight, temporary light-headedness. At the same time this practice increases mental clarity and focus. The forceful breathing cleanses and strengthens the lungs and abs.

(kapala = head; bhati = shining)

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