Developing a Pranayama practice

Breathing is something we just “do” and very rarely think about. Thanks to it being an automatic function for obvious reasons, we usually only tend to notice our breathing when perhaps we feel anxious, feel stressed, have a cold, or if our breathing is compromised in any way perhaps through illness.

Breathe - pranayama practice

Pranayama is an incredibly powerful tool that all of us can use in some shape or form to actively control our breathing to direct prana (life force energy) throughout the body for a powerful effect.  Pranayama has so much intimacy with the mind and if you persevere, the results can be incredible.

To be honest, I have found Pranayama practice a challenge, but so glad I continued and continue to practice daily. Building it into my daily routine has helped massively and I had to play around with an ideal time for me to practice, so I could make it sustainable. It has to work for you and your lifestyle, right?

Asana practice seems to be the “go-to” for many of us however Asana cannot provide the same amount of stability for the mind as Pranayama. Many of us, don’t practice breathwork as it can be viewed as sadly, a little boring, which, is such a shame because of its ability to open a doorway within, offering up incredible insight. I often still find it tough, but a short practice is better than nothing at all and always worth the effort.

INTERESTING FACT – Did you know your nostril dominance spontaneously changes around every 90-120 minutes? Shifting around 8-12 times a day. This helps explain why your mental focus is typically 1-2 hours and how your quality of attention fades after this time. More information on this will follow to explain this a little further in Yogic Terms.

So, if you’re new to Pranayama, here are some simple tips and techniques to get you started. Start small and develop your practice over time. Go slowly.

Developing a Pranayama Practice.

  • STEP 1 – Work on a smooth and even breath in your Asana practice.
  • STEP 2 – Work on your Asana practice so it can be held with physical stability and mental ease for extended periods of time.
  • STEP 3 – Consciously change the pattern of breath in seated work/asana either increasing the length of inhalation or exhalation. Ideally, increase exhalation first to create greater ease and calmness.
  • STEP 4 – Add in short retention after exhale. Helps build witness consciousness.
  • STEP 5 – Add in short retentions after inhale. More provocative.
  • STEP 6 – Add in longer holds after inhale and exhale
  • STEP 7 – Longer breath holds now with the application of Bandhas, bringing things to the surface for transformation.

Why not give these 2 techniques a try?

Nadi Shodhana (alternate Nostril Breathing)

This Pranayama practice is ideal for pretty much everyone.

It’s particularly good for

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Calming the system down
  • Centering and grounding.
  • Can help relieve headaches

How to practice

    • Find a comfortable seat, keeping the back as upright as possible/or supported.
    • Using the right hand. Bring the index and middle finger into the palm of your hand (Vishnu Mudra).
    • Inhale and exhale through both nostrils.
    • Plug the Right nostril with the thumb, inhale through the Left nostril.
    • Plug the Left nostril with your ring finger, Exhale through the right nostril, Inhale through the right nostril.
    • Plug the right nostril with the thumb, Exhale through the left nostril. Inhale through the left,
    • Plug the left with the ring finger, exhale through the right. Inhale through the right.
    • Plug the right, exhale through the left, Inhale through the left.
    • Plug the left, exhale through the right, Inhale through the right.
    • Plug the right, exhale through the left, Inhale through the left.
    • Repeat at your own pace.
    • Finish on an exhale through the left nostril

TOP TIP – Each time you inhale you then plug that nostril.

Throughout your practice notice any differences between each nostril. Does one feel clearer than the other? What does the quality of breath feel like? Is it smooth, rough, cool, warm? Fine tune your awareness to your breath with practice and notice how you feel afterwards.

Option to add a breath retention after exhale, hold, then inhale.

Allow the shoulders and facial muscles to soften and relax. Slightly dip the chin down.

Ladder Breathing

Another simple technique to lengthen the breath to calm the system by increasing the length of the inhale and exhale.


    • Find a comfortable seat, with the lungs and abdominal free from restriction.
    • Full breath in through nose, sigh out through the mouth.
    • Inhale for 5, exhale for 5, Repeat
    • Inhale for 6, exhale for 6, Repeat
    • Inhale for 7, exhale for 7, Repeat
    • Inhale for 8, exhale for 8, Repeat
    • Inhale for 9, exhale for 9, Repeat
    • Take a full breath in through the nose, exhale with a sigh.
    • Close the lips, few rounds of slow inhale and exhales to finish.
    • Check in to how you feel.

Happy Pranayama !!!!