Pranayama To Win The Day

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You’re given a project with an unrealistic deadline. 

You’re falling victim to the post lunch slump.

You’ve got an important 9AM meeting you want to ensure you’re on your A game for. 


Frustration. Lethargy. Nerves. 


A strongly worded email. Time absentmindedly checking emails. Pacing.


Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. 


It may not be a surprise that breath control is the key to unlocking different reactions to every circumstance, but there are far more techniques you can practice than slow controlled breaths to deter you from cutting off that person in traffic.


Pranayama, or breath control, is one of the 8 Aids of Yoga. There are many techniques you can integrate into your daily life to evoke different physiological and emotional reactions. 


Listed below are 6 breathing techniques and how to perform them broken into categories dependent upon the mental and bodily reactions:


  • Calming:
    • 2:1 breath: 1 inhale; 2 exhales - soothes the nervous system
    • Nadi Shodhanam: one nostril plugged one nostril inhale - release plugged nostril; plug open nostril exhale then inhale through same open nostril - plug open nostril, open plugged exhale then inhale through same open nostril, repeat 10 times - brings balance to body and brain 
  • Energizing/Heating:
    • Kapalabhathi Breath: quick vigorous breaths through nostrils activating lower diaphragm with focus on pushing out exhales (inhale will automatically come) -cleansing and increases bodily oxygen
    • Bhastrika Breath: long vigorous breath with option to add arm rise and fall - increases clarity and vitality of the mind
  • Awakening: 
    • Breath of Joy: Inhale with hands over head, exhale sweet arms down and fold - cleansing and uplifting
    • Lion’s Breath: forceful exhale, tongue extended, option to roll eyes and tilt head back - releases heat


Try one of these breathing techniques when things become mundane, frustrating, or you need to calm nerves.