Breathing Techniques (Part-1)

Breath Control

Breathing is the most vital process of the body as it affects the activities of each and every cell in our body, most importantly the brain cells. It is generally seen that most people breathe incorrectly, using only a small portion of their lung capacity. The breathing is not deep enough to pump in enough oxygen to the body cells as a result of which people, often, feel tired, disoriented and drained out. Irregular breathing disrupts the rhythms of brain and leads to mental block which results in disordered lifestyle, imbalanced personality, disease and negative thought process. Although breathing is an involuntary process but it is possible to take a conscious control of it by following simple steps of ‘Pranayama’ (Prana means ‘vital energy’ of ‘life force’ and Yama means ‘Control’).



It is the life force which exists in all beings, animate and inanimate. Although, it is widely interpreted as ‘air we breathe’, it is more subtle than air or the oxygen we inhale. ‘Pranayama’ should not be merely considered as a breathing process; it is a process by which the ‘life force’ is channelized through the energy centers in our body with the help of proper breathing techniques. Pranayama helps in maintaining physical and mental health by removing blockages in the energy centers, enabling an increased absorption of ‘Prana’ or ‘life force’. A spiritual seeker requires tranquility of mind before starting with meditation and other spiritual practices. The process of breath retention (exercised during Pranayama) establishes a control over the flow of ‘vital energy’ in and out of the body, thereby controlling the thought process and calming down the mind.

Simple Do’s and Don’ts

1. Always breathe through the nose and not the mouth. Before starting the process make sure the nose is clean and free from blockages.

2. The best time to practice Pranayama is during early morning hours and if that is not possible, sunset would be another good time to do so. It can also be performed just before going to bed but it is important to adhere to one designated time schedule every day. Regularly practicing ‘Pranayam increases strength, will power and clarity of mind.

3. You can select any quiet, clean and ventilated room in your house. Avoid direct sunlight or the even sitting near air conditioner while doing Pranayama. It can upset the body temperature and might cause overheating or unnecessary chills as the case may be.

4. Sitting posture is very important to take care of. The body should be as relaxed as possible with the spine, neck and head erect. To make yourself comfortable, you can choose to sit on a cushion or a folded blanket during the process.

5. Pranayama must be practiced after yogic exercises (if you are practicing yoga) and before meditation. After Pranayama, you may lie down on your back for some time and let the body relax.

6. Loose and comfortable clothes should be worn during the process and it is advisable not to take a shower for at least half an hour after Pranayama. The purpose is to allow the body temperature to come back to normal.

7. It is advisable to practice Pranayama empty stomach or else at least four hours after a meal. Food in the stomach puts pressure on the diaphragm and the lungs, making full and deep respiration difficult.

8. A balanced diet containing protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals is suitable for Pranayama practices.

9. The most important thing is ‘not to rush’ and ‘not to push yourself’. Do not go beyond your capacity. Breath retention should be practiced only as long as it is possible and comfortable. Body needs time to adjust with any change imposed on it. As such be patient until your mind and body accepts the change.

10. It is advisable not to smoke for Pranayama practitioners. Also it should not be practiced during illness.

…………………to be continued

How to breathe the right way

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Comments 33 comments

BrianS profile image

BrianS 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

One sure way of ensuring you breathe deeply is to take a walk up a steep incline, try and do that with only shallow breaths. Interesting hub.

anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York Author

Brian Hub: That's right but here we are trying to focus on deep and regulated breath. When we walk on an incline, breath comes in short gasps and the heart tries even harder to pump out more blood (and oxygen) which is not what we want in Pranayama. It is mainly focused on slowing down the breath and keeping the mind composed.

Thx very much for your comments.

goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

Anj, I gotta remember to do this.

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anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York Author

GT: Yep. It'll come with practice. No need to remember as such. Thx for stopping by.

Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 7 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

Great article. Thanks for sharing. Conscious breathing is much more then people usually know.

Thumbs up!

anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York Author

Tatjana: You're so generous all the time. The article is somewhat incomplete and I'm working on a follow up hub right now. Thx very much for your kind comments.

JPSO138 profile image

JPSO138 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

I will certainly try this out. Great hub.

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anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York Author

JPSO138: It'll be really beneficial for you if you do. Good luck.

cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 7 years ago from North Carolina

Thanks Anjali, I do Pranayama every day along with my prayers. They are extremely useful and give lots of energy earlier in the day. Well done, I hope you publish books on these topics soon if you have not done already.

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anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York Author

cgull8m: I'm so happy for you. Please don't ever stop your daily practise. Thx for encouraging me to write a book on this. It's a daunting task but let's see ...I might be able to do that in future. :) Thx again for your support and kind words.

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Raggits 7 years ago

Great article!

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anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York Author

Raggits: Thx very much.

Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 7 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

Great Hub as usual Anjali. You write very well.

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anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York Author

Anamika S: Nice to see you here. Your kind words are highly appreciated. Thx very much.

Kimberly Bunch profile image

Kimberly Bunch 7 years ago from EAST WENATCHEE

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anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York Author

Kimberly: Thx again. Nice to see you here. Your link doesn't seem to be working. Is it a glitch or you unpublished the article?

Cleanclover profile image

Cleanclover 7 years ago from Piece of land!

Fantastic information. Thanks i will practise pranayam everyday

anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York Author

Cleanclover: Thx for appreciating. You must start your day with Pranayam even if it's only for 5 min. Try it for one month and see the difference. Take care.

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JK133502 6 years ago

Hi Anjali,

I had a couple of questions on Pranayama.

a)All Yogic series i have seen or read mention to do pranayama before the asanas.You have mentioned the reverse of it.Any reason for that?

b)I live in canada and coz of the cold,i always find it hard to do yoga in the early morning .I try to do it after work in the evening but one hour after a light snack,but everyone says pranayama needs to be done atleast 4 hours after food.So do you any suggestions on how i can overcome that?



anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 6 years ago from New York Author

JK133502: Here are the answers:

a) Generally when we say 'asanas' we mean doing yogic exercises sitting in one particular posture. These exercises normally include 'breathing exercises' (kapal bhatti, pranayam etc) followed by meditation. I believe when you mentioned 'asanas' you had 'hatha yoga' in mind which includes rigorous physical exercise only. For clarification on this subject you might want to check out the following link

Therefore, when I suggested that Pranayam should follow yogic exercises, I meant that it should precede 'meditation' as during meditation a lot of energy is generated and if there are blockages in the chakras or in 'nadis', the energy gets trapped and does not flow uninterruptedly. This can create imbalance in the body and discomfort on the psychic level as well. Pranayam open the 'nadis' (air channels) so as to make a free passage for the energy to move inside the body.

b) Well, one hour after dinner might be a little less but I suppose 2 hrs should be fine. The best time is before hitting the bid as I'm sure you would like to do a 10 minute meditation after pranayam which would definitely help your mind to calm down after a long days job and would give you a nice sleep as well. Hope I was able to satisfy your queries.

Feel free to come back.

loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 6 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

this is something that i need to practice more often.....thx 4 share

anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 6 years ago from New York Author

loveofnight: Even I "try" to do it everyday. Hope you understand what I mean. :) I wish I could be regular but am not. Breathing exercises give gradual but long term benefits. Thx for stopping by. Its a pleasure having you in my hubs.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Should diaphragmatic breathing be used during these exercises? Very good hub and I enjoyed it very much. Looking forward to reading more of your hubs. Mahalo

anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 6 years ago from New York Author

Vocalcoach: Yes you can include such diaphragmatic exercise (commonly known as 'Kapal Bhatti' in India)in your daily routine. It works well for anxiety related issues and digestion (including bloating) problems. Studies have shown that Kapal Bhatti is a very effective tool for losing inches in your mid rib section. Thx for dropping by. Keep coming.

jendie 6 years ago

wow i love this article, i'll try to do this everyday

anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 6 years ago from New York Author

Jendie: Thx very much for your kind words. Feel free to come back.

neeleshkulkarni profile image

neeleshkulkarni 6 years ago from new delhi

am here and am moving on since i am sure anything i might want to say would have been said by you in the next parts.

anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 6 years ago from New York Author

@ Neelesh: I hope so. :) Thx again.

barryrutherford profile image

barryrutherford 5 years ago from Queensland Australia

Came back to practice my breathing & calm down...^

anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 5 years ago from New York Author

Hi Barry! Good to see u here. Glad to know that you are back on your breathing-exercise routine. Wish u all the best. :)

sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

sunilkunnoth2012 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

Nice hub. Congrats!

anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 4 years ago from New York Author

@SunilKunnoth2012: Thank you so much for your kind words.

skgrao profile image

skgrao 4 years ago from Bangalore City - INDIA.

When we breath during Pranayama should our stomach come out while breathing in or go in resulting in chest expansion.

1 ) Breath In - Stomach Expands.

2 ) Breath Out - Stomach Goes In.

3 ) Breath In - Chest Expands.

4 ) Breath Out - Chest Goes In.

Which is Correct - 1 & 2 or 3 & 4.

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