Yoga and alternative nostril breathing

Breathing through the left nostril

Breathing through the left nostril is calming, and breathing through the right nostril has
an energizing effect.

How to do it :

  • Sit down in easy pose or rock pose. Keep the spine straight with your shoulders down
    just like a yogi.
  • Close the right nostril with your right thumb. Let the rest of your fingers point toward
    the sky.
  • Inhale through the left nostril then close the left nostril with the right pinky and exhale
    through the right side.
  • Inhale through the right nostril (always inhale through the nostril that you have just
    exhaled with). Close with the right thumb and exhale through the left nostril. Inhale
    through the left nostril and continue for 2 or 3 minutes minimum. Repeat the steps
    starting on your left side.

Benefits :


  • Balances both hemispheres of the brain.
  • Brings effectiveness and calmness.
  • Alters the mental state.
  • Excellent to relax you before having an important conversation or meeting that makes you nervous.
  • Good as a daily practice when experiencing anxiety.

Awareness Techniques Different Types of Pranayama


Long deep breathing is one of the most common ways to breathe. This type of breathing is done by using the full capacity of the lungs, in both the inhalation and the exhalation. This is done by breathing slowly and not rushing the breath. Normally this is practiced through the nose because it helps to control breathing. However, one can do it through the mouth as well.

Benefits :

  • Increases the flow of oxygen in the body, which promotes healing and a relaxing state of being.
  • Prevents and decreases the build-up of toxins in the lungs.
  • Stimulates the production of endorphins to fight depression.
  • Expands the lungs capacity which builds concentration, patience, flexibility, and resistance. This also increases the secretion of the pituitary gland, which develops intuition.
  • Pumps the spinal fluid to the brain which will increase your overall energy.
  • Strengthens the aura, which reduces insecurity, and decreases fear.
  • Cleanses the blood.
  • Gives control over the negative emotions, which helps to break bad habits and old patterns.

In our daily lives we tend to use only a small percentage of our lungs instead of using them to their full capacity.


Breath of Fire is without a doubt the most sophisticated Pranayama (breath control). It is an amazing tool that fights against anxiety, nerves, fears, pain, and depression.

Yogi Bhajan said that a person has been granted a predetermined number of breaths from birth till his death, and breath of fire is ONE (from the moment you start until you end). This means that you can prolong your life span by doing Breath of Fire!

As mentioned before, the way we feel is directly related to the way we breathe. When dealing with challenging or stressful life situations, our body has an unconscious tendency to pull the diaphragm in. This is the area of the Solar Plexus, where the body keeps all of its emotions.

There are seventy-two thousand nerves in our body. Out of the entire seventy-two thousand, seventy-two are the most important. Out of these seventy-two, ten are vital. In India, they say that if the third Chakra (one of the focal points where all the seventy-two thousand nerves meet), is not in balance, a person cannot be healthy no matter how much medicine he takes. A way to balance this is by doing Breath of Fire in “stretch pose.


  • Releases all of the built up anxiety and nervousness. Breath of Fire forces the diaphragm in and out and this has a direct impact on the Navel center, releasing the emotions as well.
  • Readjusts and strengthens the nervous system.
  • Helps to regain control over stressful mental states.
  • Helps the heart and circulation by flushing the toxins out of the blood stream.
  • Massages the internal organs.
  • Releases toxins and deposits from the lungs, mucous lining, and blood vessels.
  • Expands the lungs capacity.

How to do it

Breathing in and out through the nose (or mouth) and pulling the abdomen in during the exhalation towards the diaphragm and pushing out during inhalation. This is very fast, as fast as 2 or 3 times per second, and also very loud. The people next to you should be able to hear you. When perfected, the rate should be 120 to 180 times per minute!!

Do not expect to perfect Breathe of Fire the first time, although this can be possible for some lucky ones. Instead, you can start by pushing the abdomen in while exhaling forcefully and loudly, emphasizing the exhalation. Start by building it up from there, until you inhale the same amount of air that you exhale. This is a very balanced breath because both inhalation and exhalation have equal power.

Another way to start is by practicing Breath of Fire for a few minutes in thirty second intervals and alternating with Long Deep Breath. You can build it up from there to forty-five second periods for two or three minutes. Soon you will be able to do this for long periods of time without stopping or feeling discomfort.


There is one contraindication when the woman is pregnant, or during the first two days of her menstrual cycle. Instead do long deep breathing.



Sitali Pranayam, also known as the “cooling breath”, is used with some kriyas, in segmented breaths, and with Breath of Fire.

How to do it

  • Curl the tongue into a U shape
  • Inhale through the curled tongue
  • Exhale through the nose


  • Used to lower fevers or the body temperature on hot days
  • Aids digestion
  • If the tongue tastes bitter at first it’s a sign of detoxification; this will pass


Some kriyas use the broken breaths.

How to do it

This type of breathing works with a ratio for inhalations; hold, exhale, and hold. Example: 1:4:2:0, 4:16:2:0. Inhale in four strokes through the nose, hold for four seconds, exhale in two strokes, and hold the air out in an O shape.

Another common example is the 4:1 ratio. Inhale in 4 equal strokes, like quick sniffs through the nose, and exhale in one quick stroke through the nose.


  • Helps to heal depression
  • Helps to heal you


Make a little hole in your lips where the air comes out and listen to the sound of the whistle as you breathe. There are two ways to do this type of breath.

How to do it

One way is inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth making a high-pitched sound.

The other way is inhaling through the puckered mouth making a high-pitched sound and exhaling through the nose.


  • Activates the higher glands: thyroid and parathyroid
  • Changes circulation


Most commonly used at the end of the Bikram Yoga sequence.


How to do it

Sit in a comfortable sitting position. The most commonly used sitting position for this type of breath is sitting on the heels (although you can use other positions too). Start exhaling forcefully while at the same time pulling in the abdomen. Next, quickly inhale through the nose and force the air out while pulling the abdomen in. This type of breath is done at a fast pace.


  • Relaxes the body and mind
  • Detoxifies the body