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Pranayama – The extension of life force.

pranayama blog1 pic  pranayama blog7

Pranayama (prāṇāyāma) is a Sanskrit word, formed up of two words, prāṇa or breath and āyāma or extend to draw out, providing a meaning of “extension of breath” to the word Pranayama. It is known as the fourth limb of Yoga and signifies conscious control of breath. After perfecting the body and clearing the channels or nadis of the body, the breath is the vehicle which carries our life-force into the various tissues of the body. Therefore, Pranayama is also signified as the “extension of life force”. 

It has been proven scientifically that pranayama techniques are beneficial in curing stress related diseases, and chronic diseases such as asthma. It is believed that pranayama helps one build strong will power, control their mind, and ensure the right balance in life.

How should one start?

The ideal way to start pranayama is to observe one’s natural breath. This can be performed while sitting down or lying down in a comfort position. Close the eyes and observe the breath moving in and out of the nostrils. Observe the air entering into your body through the nostrils and moving into the lungs; building a sensation in each organ of your body. Observe, the air gushing out of your lungs and exiting the body through nostrils. Feel the sensation of fresh air coming in and consumed air moving out, leaving your body organs in a moment of calmness.


These moments, the holding of the breath inside the body or holding before taking a whiff of fresh air, are exceptional moments of insight about your own body. Once the body has relaxed during the observation cycle, one can start performing the pranayama techniques. It is critical for performing the pranayama techniques successfully that the observation of breath is performed well.

There are more than fifty pranayama techniques; here we have mentioned how to perform basic sectional breathing. In sectional breathing, it came with three different parts and the forth one was the combination of the three of them. Here, we sat up in cross-legged position, with head, neck and  spine straight, both eyes closed, placed both hands on the thighs, and relaxed.

Along with the steps and images on how to perform each technique, we have mentioned the key observation of that technique. Pranayama lays critical importance on this art of observation of breath in every technique.

CAUTION: Please proceed slowly and carefully making sure that you are not feeling any advert affects such as light-headedness, agitation or shortness of breath. If any of these symptoms occur,  go back to your normal breathing pattern and try again another day.

ADHAMA SVASA  (Soft Abdominal Breathing or belly breathing)

pranayama pic2

Adhama- lower

Adhama Svasa is using your diaphragm for breathing. Stomach bulges out for inhale and goes in for exhale. Chest and upper part of the body remain still in this breathing. This svasa fills the air in lower parts of the lungs.

Rest hands on abdomen and feel movement of abdomen.

Key Observation in this technique: Observe fullness in the belly when one inhales and the relaxation in the belly when one exhales.

MADHYAMA SVASA (Side Ribs Breath also called thoracic breathing)

pranayama pic on thorasic breathing

Madhyama- middle

Madhyama Svasa is expanding chest outwards and upwards for inhale and bringing back to resting position for exhale. This Svasa fills air middle parts of lungs.

Rest hands on side ribs.

Key Observation in this technique:  Observe lateral expansion of the lower rib cage when one inhales and relaxation toward the center when one exhales.

ADYA SVASA (Upper Chest Breath also called Clavicular breathing)


Aadi- upper

Adya Svasa is raising collar bones and shoulders upwards and backwards for inhale and bring back to resting position for exhale.

Rest hands on chest below the collar bones.

Key Observation in this technique:  Observe movement of the breath in upper chest. Observe rise of the chest towards the chin when one inhales and fall towards the heart when one exhales.

PURNA SVASA (3-Part Breath, Full Yogic Breath) or full yogic breathing.

pranayama purna yoga

pic courtesy: yoga sudha

Combined inhalation of all the three sections (below, middle and upper) slowly and fully.

Inhale 1/3 volume into lower belly, 1/3 volume into middle ribs, 1/3 volume into upper chest.

Exhale in the opposite order emptying chest, ribs and belly.

Repeat for 1-3 minutes.

Key Observation in this technique: Observe the movement of belly, ribs and chest area while inhaling and exhaling.

Eco Samsara brings to you convenient and environment friendly Yoga accessories which help you perform the pranayama techniques in an efficient manner. Use Zafus, to perform the pranayama techniques listed above. This also assures that you get full benefits from the techniques. Stay tuned for more articles on different Yoga asanas and Pranayama techniques.

pranayama blog on zafus

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