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Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama

Updated: 3 days ago

The way we breathe changes how energy, prana, flows throughout our bodies and minds. When we learn to breathe diaphragmatically, we're calmer and healthier. So, take a diaphragmatic breath and relax.


Prana means "life force" and ayama means "expansion." Pranayama practices help us permeate our bodies and minds prana, with the vital force. Pranayama increases your vitality." -Veena, Saumya Ayurveda

Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama image woman doing nadi shodhana alternate nostril breathinga

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Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama


"To know about Ayurveda, contact Saumya Ayurveda, and see Veenaji. Being an Ayurveda expert, and there are now very few, because it requires knowledge of the scriptures, the medicine, but it also requires a great deal of being a sadhaka (someone who follows a certain sadhana, a spiritual practice or way of life). Without being a sadhaka, an Ayurvedic physician is not a true physician.


When you consult with a knowledgeable Ayurvedic expert, then your body, mind, and pranic body operate optimally and your sadhana (spiritual practices) becomes easier, and your practice becomes enjoyable.” -- Dr. Dabral, PhD., Sanskrit, meditation and yoga philosophy teacher



The Right Environment for Pranayama


It's important to be mindful of your breathing during Pranayama, which is why you'll want to do your breathing exercises in a quiet space that's free of distractions. Choose a clean room that's well-ventilated. When the weather is warm, Pranayama techniques can be done outdoors. For your indoors, chose an area and make that your designated spot for prayanama, breathwork.


  • Pranayama practices are best performed with an empty stomach.

  • Before beginning a breathwork/pranayma practice, always check with your physician.


Do You Feel Your Mind Working Overtime?


Ever feel your mind going and going? Too many thoughts? Wake up at night solving problems? Often clients share that their minds are going a million miles and hour and they can't shut it off. How exhausting and anxiety provoking.


What we need to do first is to return to the way we were breathing when we were born--diaphragmatic breathing. For most of us, over time we are trained out of this healthy way of breathing. Now, we will retrain our breathing and return to our natural state of diaphragmatic breathing. When we breath diaphragmatically, we are more relaxed and grounded.


woman in savasana corpse pose

Diaphragmatic Breathing


Whether we are new to pranayama or we've practiced for years, lie in savasana, corpse pose, on a firm, flat surface on a blanket or yoga mat. You may want to cover yourself with a shawl or thing blanket. let your arms turn so palms are upwards and arms near but away from your sides. Be comfortable. Straighten your spine. You may want to use a bolster under your knees.


Breathe through your nose, focusing on the way your belly expands and contracts as you inhale and exhale. Place your right hand over your belly and your left hand over your chest. If you are breathing with your diaphragm, your right hand will move up and down while your left hand will stay still.


Once you have confirmed that you are practicing diaphragmatic breathing, in time your breath will naturally lengthen. Simply place your attention on the gentle rise and fall of your abdomen. As you exhale, your abdomen contracts, as you inhale, it expands. There is nothing "to do," only observe the rhythm of the breath.


Diaphragmatic breathing calms Vata dosha, leaving you feeling relaxed and grounded. It soothes the nervous system. Once diaphragmatic breathing becomes established, you can repeat this exercise without placing your hands on your chest and stomach.


Diaphragmatic breathing is the foundation to pranayama, breathwork practices.  It is the most important breathwork to practice and master. Before trying other pranayama practices, diaphragmatic breathing needs to be automatic.


Breathing diaphragmatically decreases the breath rate and increases a sense of calm and focus. It’s foundational to all other pranayama, breathwork practices. First, we learn to breathe diaphragmatically, then we can be guided onto other breathwork practices and derive benefits.


Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama image women doing alternate nostril breathing

Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing


Once diaphragmatic breathing is established as a habit, then alternate nostril breathing follows. Pranayama practices should not be attempted until diaphragmatic breathing is a well-established habit.


Alternate nostril breathing is one of the most effective pranayama exercises to relieve anxiety. This exercise can restore Vata balance and put your body and mind at ease.

Nadi shodhana balances Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas. It purifies and strengthens the nervous system bringing balance to the mind and emotions. This practice is said to balance the left and right sides of the brain, rejuvenates the body and mind, improves focus and memory, relieves stress and anxiety, supports healthy blood pressure, and stimulates the digestive fore (agni).


Indicated for people with Vata imbalances including anxiety, low prana, nervous conditions, difficulty remembering, difficulty focusing, fatigue, stress, tension, exhaustion, restless mind, racing thoughts, dull mind, mind fog, and poor sleep. Individuals experiencing depression, anger, frustration, irritability, short fuse, migraines, headaches, and asthma.


*Avoid holding or retaining the breath. The aim is to have no pause between the inhalation and exhalation.


alternate nostril breathing graphic

Method:

1. Bring the right hand to the nose, fold the index finger and the middle finger so the right thumb can be used to close the right nostril and the ring finger can be used to close the left nostril (vishnu mudra). Alternatively, you may place the index and middle fingers on the bridge of the nose between the eyes.

2. Close the passive nostril and exhale completely through the active nostril.

3. At the end of the exhalation, close the active nostril and inhale through the passive nostril slowly and completely. Inhalation and exhalation should be of equal duration.

4. Repeat this cycle of exhalation with the active nostril and inhalation with the passive nostril two more times.

5. At the end of the third inhalation with the passive nostril, exhale completely through the same nostril keeping the active nostril closed with the finger.

6. At the end of the exhalation, close the passive nostril and inhale through the active nostril.

7. Repeat two more times the cycle of exhalation through the passive nostril and inhalation through the active nostril.

Summary:

1. Exhale Active

2. Inhale Passive

3. Exhale Active

4. Inhale Passive

5. Exhale Active

6. Inhale Passive

7. Exhale Passive

8. Inhale Active

9. Exhale Passive

10. Inhale Active

11. Exhale Passive

12. Inhale Active

9. Return your hand to your thigh and exhale and inhale through both nostrils evenly for three complete breaths. This completes ONE cycle or round of the nadi shodhanam practice. It is customary to do three cycles or rounds of the practice.

Note: When practicing three rounds in one sitting, the second of the three rounds begins with the opposite nostril, and the pattern of alternation is therefore the reverse of rounds one and three. The third round is exactly the same as the first round.


Diaphragmatic breathing and alternate nostril breathing practices are the key two foundational pranayama. Practiced consistently and in tandem with our guided practices, you'll observe changes in your body and mind.


Contraindications

  • Blocked sinuses

  • Cold, fever, flu

  • Food in stomach

  • Menstruating

bumble bee and a flower Humming Bee Breath Bhramari Pranayama

Humming Bee Breath Bhramari Pranayama


Brhamari pranayama brings stillness to the mind and soothes the nervous system. It reduces stress and relieves anxiety. It is said to lower blood pressure, support a healthy throat and creates a melodious voice. It releases anger and improves sleep quality.


Sit with your head, neck, and spine in alignment. (Do not practice bhramari while lying down.) Close your eyes and place your thumbs over your ears. Keep your pinky fingers near your nostrils and your index fingers near your eyebrows. Take a deep breath through your nose, focusing on the way your lungs expand.


Hold your breath in your lungs and press your pinky fingers against both of your nostrils, leaving them partially closed. As you exhale, use your throat to make a low-pitched humming sound. The sound should be similar to the buzzing of a bee.


This is a calming breathing exercise that promotes healing throughout the body. This exercise is most effective on an empty stomach. It is an excellent way to reduce stress and improve throat health.


Contraindications

  • Chest pain

  • Ear infection or pressure

  • Epilepsy

  • Menstruating and pregnant women


Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama image woman diaphragmatic breathing in savasana pose image of a jeweled bellows

Bellows Breath Bhastrika Pranayama


Close your eyes and relax your jaw. Quickly inhale and exhale through your nose, keeping your mouth closed. You should feel your ribs flare out and in and as you breathe.


Breathe in and out three times, then allow yourself to breathe normally before repeating this exercise again. Continue this exercise for a total of 15 seconds. Over time, you can gradually increase the duration of this exercise to a full minute.


This type of breathing is highly stimulating and can leave you feeling energized. It can improve digestion and leave you feeling more alert and aware. This exercise can also lift excess Kapha and remove congestion from the lungs.


Contraindications:

  • detached retina

  • epilepsy

  • gastric ulcer

  • glaucoma

  • heart

  • high blood pressure

  • history of or risk of stroke

  • nosebleeds

  • pregnant or menstruating 

  • vertigo

  • recent abdominal surgery


Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama image woman with tongue rolled performing shitali pranayama cooling breath

Shitali Cooling Breath


How to perform shitali, or cooling breath:


Close your eyes and relax. Sit with your head, neck, and spine in alignment. Straight, yet relaxed.

  1. Curl your tongue to make a straw shape.

  2. Inhale slowly through the straw hole.

  3. Exhale through the nose, keeping the mouth closed.

  4. The inhalation will be cooling to your mouth, tongue, and the mucus membrane, and the head in general.

Note: If you cannot curl your tongue, clench the teeth gently together and press your tongue up against the teeth. Inhale through the teeth, exhale through the nostrils with the mouth closed.

Benefits of Shitali Pranayama

  1. Cools the oral temperature down

  2. Improves digestion, assimilation, and absorption

  3. May lower blood pressure

  4. Reduce symptoms of hot tongue and mouth

  5. Alleviates burning eyes

  6. Cooling to the entire body and mind

Shitali pranamya breathwork is an excellent practice for Pitta types and those with Pitta symptoms. Hot flashes? Add this to your morning and evening daily routine and anytime you need to cool off and chill out.


How Do I Know If I Have A Dosha Imbalance?

Look at these comprehensive and convenient lists of signs and symptoms of dosha imbalances.


As we are all comprised of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, there can be an imbalance in any of the doshas, or a combination of dosha imbalances. Read all three lists and see if anything looks familiar.

man performing Left Nostril Breathing | Chandra Bhedana (Moon-Piercing Breath)

Left Nostril Breathing | Chandra Bhedana (Moon-Piercing Breath)

bhedana = piercing

(chahn-drah) chandra = moon


An easy and most effective pranayama which cools the body. Single nostril breathing purifies the Chandra (moon) Nadi (channel). Nadis are energy channels in the subtle body through which prana (energy) flows.


Every hour and half, our bodies switch which nostril is dominant (most open). When the left nostril is dominant, our body cools down.


To perform left nostril breathing, gently close your right nostril and simply breathing normally, inhaling and exhaling through the left nostril. This pranayama activates the parasympathetic nervous system activates, reducing adrenaline, slowly the heartrate, calming and clearing the thinking, reduces anxiety and...the body temperatures drops.



woman performing Ujjayi pranayama by a lake

Ujjayi Pranayama – The Breath of Victory



Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama:


It creates a feeling of great joy. It calms the mind, relaxes the rib cage muscles, and brings a sense of victory, success, and achievement. It is balancing for all doshas. Excellent to calm agitation or anxiety.



How to Perform Ujjayi Breath:


1. You may sit on the floor in a posture (asana) or sit in a straight back hard seated chair. Sit at the edge of the chair, (not leaning back on the back rest), with your legs at 90 degrees. Use a pillow under your feet if needed so your legs are comfortably at 90 degrees.

2. Sit with your head, trunk, and neck in alignment.

3. How to perform a chink lock? Gently move your head in and down, toward your chest. Invite your awareness to your throat area. Lower your head into a gentle chin lock.

4. Gently seal your lips and exhale in and out through your nostrils.

5. Inhale and exhale slowly through your nostrils while contracting the muscles in the back of the throat.

6. It can take some time to get the sound correct. Keep experimenting. You’ll get it. A few tips to getting it right:

- Open your mouth, exhale the sound “haaaaaahhhh” as though you’re fogging up a mirror or cleaning your glasses. Play around for this for a bit and you’ll get it in no time.

- Now, close your mouth and attempt this sound. Feel the exhalation through your nostrils. Again, relax and keep playing with it. You will master this outflow and now use the same method for the inhalation, gently contracting the back of your throat as you inhale.

7. How do you know if you’re performing Ujjayi correctly? Your breath will sound like ocean waves. The inhalation sounds like the ocean creates as it forms a wave, and the exhalation sounds like a wave crashing on the shoreline.

8. Think of it this way—it sounds like Darth Vader’s breathing in Star Wars.

9. Perform twelve cycles of Ujjayi breath, but always perform within your comfortable capacity.


women taking a relaxing breath and feeling calm

The Benefits of Pranayama


Pranayama is very relaxing and can be an effective tool for stress management. It can improve lung function and strengthen the mind/body connection. The right breathing exercises can lower your blood pressure, reduce food cravings, increase vitality and focus, and help you sleep peacefully at night.


Breathwork practices are also an effective way to cleanse the mind and body. It can promote harmony in the body and leave you feeling balanced. There are many different breathing exercises and a guided, systematic approach with Saumya Ayurveda will teach you which pranayama is appropriate for you and how to practice correctly.


Although breathing exercises can be highly beneficial, practiced incorrectly, it can do harm. For this reason and others, it's best to practice pranayama under the guidance of an experienced teacher.


woman deep breathing

Finding the Right Breathwork for You


"The foundation to all pranayama, is to have established diaphragmatic breathing. Learn diaphragmatic breathing and change your life. Breathing links us both to the mind and the body and is therefore, grounding. The more we pay attention to breathing by way of a gentle awareness, the more we can relax and find our mind concentrated. That’s where diaphragmatic breathing exercises come in."

-Veena, Saumya Ayurveda


Change my breath and it changes my life? It may seem a dramatic claim, yet it is not. Without breath, where is life? There are many sayings in English about breath, we lost our breath, we catch it, we hold it, we take a deep breath--yet the breath of life--meaning something one depends on, is among the most profound. Breath is not something we tend to connect with consciously yet is foundational in Ayurveda and to life itself.


Learn how to create an Ayurvedic lifestyle: Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama is the anchor of your morning and evening Ayurveda routines.

Saumya Ayurveda's 3 steps for transforming your life daily with image of a woman meditating by a lake

There is a saying, "The mind is more in the body, than the body is in the mind." The Saumya 3 step meditation process shifts us from fight-flight-freeze mode, to rest-restore-relax mode. Give it a try for forty days and observe the changes. The more grounded and relaxed we are, the smoother life flows.


"The breath is the connection between the mind and body, so by training the breath, we become calm, focused, and grounded, we slow down the aging process by decreasing stress. These practices are so simple and easy to have as part of our daily life. We actually feel and look younger."

- Veena, Saumya Ayurveda


1. Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life. When we re-learn to breath diaphragmatically, we move from the flight-fight-freeze mode, to rest, restore, relaxation mode from where we want and need to live.


2. Free Daily Guided Practices: 11 minutes in the morning and in the evening, as anchors of your daily Ayurveda routine.



"Choose a couple of practices from the routines that provide you with the greatest support. Perform them while applying our two minute meditation technique and your mundane tasks, just transformed into a mellifluous meditation. This is meditation applied to daily life."

- Veena, Saumya Ayurveda

 

"Veena was able to help me regain my energy in just a few months and I’m feeling like my “young” self again! I love the food plan she designed for me, and all the supporting practices (am/pm routines, breathing techniques, herbs, and spice mixes) are so enjoyable to incorporate into my day. I highly recommend Saumya Ayurveda if you want to feel better and have more vitality.”

-Molly Rossini, Minnesota

Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama image notepad saying client testimonials

Read and watch our client's stories to learn how Saumya clients create lasting change in their lives.


“I love drinking the tea and cooking with my sweet and savory herbal mixes. The mudra, mantra...WOW. This is so cool! I have regained hope. Something wonderful is taking place. You and your knowledge come to me after a lifetime of searching and prayer. I am forever grateful.” --Mark Hughes, St. Paul, Minnesota

 

 

“It is with great pleasure that I write this review! Working with Veena has remarkably changed my life – even in the places I was unaware that it demanded to be changed! Throughout the course of four months, Veena’s gentle and succinct approach allowed me to easily refine my routines into a more structured foundation that left me feeling more in graceful governance with myself – emotionally and physically.



Not only had she brought forth awareness in how I prepare/ relate to the food I eat, but she also prescribed me wonderful herbs to help calm my anxiety, detox my liver, and heal the ugly night sweats I’ve been experiencing due to hormonal imbalances.


Lastly, her guided meditations are a great grounding force, and I have since continued to explore the euphoric benefits of Yoga Nidra.


Veena is a well of divine knowledge, and her humor and light will be eternally appreciated!”

--Rachel Monson, Wisconsin


 

“Working with Veena is incredible. She sees the possibilities that lay dormant in us and is so patient and kind in sharing her wisdom and tools to help birth those possibilities. As Ayurveda is a living science, it takes conviction and discipline to change habits, to live a different reality.


Veena makes navigating the changes smooth and meaningful, inspiring at every meeting, letting me know that, YES, changes are happening! Thank you, Veena. Many blessings!”

-Kyle Sangster, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama image colorful globe


Learn More about Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama with Saumya Ayurveda

There are many things that should be considered when choosing breathing exercises, including the season, your dosha, and what your body currently needs. If you're feeling tired, an energizing breathing exercise, like bellows breath, is ideal. If you're struggling with stress, you should choose a calming exercise.


Breathwork is an anchor in your Ayurveda morning routine and evening rituals. Pranayama is a way of working with the subtler aspects of one's being Listen to your body and pay attention to the signals that it sends you.

Discover the Saumya Ayurveda Way

We all want to be heard, understood, and cared for as whole beings, not a set of isolated symptoms. True health is more than the absence of disease, which is why Western medicine so often leaves us feeling hopeless and unseen.


Deep down, you already know what you’re searching for: a new framework for living – one that brings your entire being back into balance. With Saumya Ayurveda, you’ll receive individualized guidance to create the physically, mentally, and spiritually vibrant life you crave.


Saumya Ayurveda provides concierge, top-notch, award-winning Ayurveda care. We strive to keep it simple, so you can focus on you! Opt for virtual consultations and we'll come to you.


Our practice model is client focused, we’re not in the retail herb business. We’ll guide you where to order herbs directly online. Our top-shelf Ayurveda oils and herbalized ghees are the best in the land and we’ll ship your care package right to your doorstep.


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Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama image Veena at Saumya Ayurveda

Veena is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and meditation teacher, and monk.


She is President Emeritus and teaching faculty of the Meditation Center.


Veena fell in love with the traditional medicine used in her family’s home, learning herbal remedies at her grandmother's knee.


These childhood experiences were the seeds of a lifelong passion. For over 30 years, Veena has dedicated her life to the world’s oldest healing system: Ayurveda.


She draws on this ancient wisdom to help others find their compass to a healthy life – and support those left wanting by Western medicine.


An experienced Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Veena’s deep, intuitive knowledge of Ayurveda empowers her clients to reclaim their fullest, most vibrant lives –mentally, physically, and spiritually. Veena individualizes treatment plans to each person, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach, so it fits your life and becomes woven in your lifestyle, naturally.



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