Wear loose-fitting clothes or no clothes at all. Make sure your nose
is clear, so you can breathe freely. If you have a cold, you will
have to wait till you are recovered. Not only is it impossible to do
Pranayam when you cannot breathe through your nose but if you have a
sore throat the first deep breath will send you into a violent cough
The purpose of the first step is to learn to distinguish between belly
breathing and chest breathing.
Lie on your back on a
comfortable flat surface. Relax and start following your breath. Put one
hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Relax.
Belly breathing : When you
inhale, the hand on your belly rises, while the hand on your chest
remains still. As you exhale, the hand on your belly goes down again,
whereas the hand on your chest remains still. Repeat this for 5-10
Chest breathing : When you
inhale, the hand on your chest rises, while the hand on your belly
remains still. As you exhale, the hand on your chest goes down again,
whereas the hand on your belly remains still. Repeat this for 5-10
Alternate between belly and
chest breathing for 5-10 minutes. Repeat every day. It is vital that you
master this step before going on to step 2.
Purpose of step two is to combine belly and chest breathing in one breath.
This is called Yoga breathing.
Lie on a comfortable flat
surface. Relax and follow your breath. Put one hand on your belly and
the other on your chest. Relax.
Yoga breathing : Start
inhaling with belly breathing. When you feel that you cannot inhale any
more this way, go over to chest breathing until the chest part of your
lungs are full. Then you exhale using chest breathing first and then
belly breathing until you have emptied your lungs completely.
Breathe very slowly. If you
feel dizzy, you are breathing too fast. If you feel out of breath, you
are breathing too slowly. Follow your body's signals.
If you have problems
distinguishing between belly and chest breathing, go back to step one
Sit or stand with your spine upright.
Use Yoga breathing and
follow a set pattern. To do this you need to somehow count the rhythm.
Use ordinary counting, or use words instead. The rhythm 4-2-2 works very
well for most people. This means that you can count to 4 while inhaling,
hold your breath while counting 1 and 2, and exhale on 3 and 4. A
4-4-4-4 rhythm is also recommended and some find it more efficient. It
means adding an extra element, namely holding your breath between
exhalation and inhalation. Be careful not to hold your breath for too
long. Again, listen to your body's needs.
Yoga breathing should be a
more or less effortless process, so your breath should not be louder
than usual. Most people have problems with starting the exhalation
inaudibly. If you experience this too, there is a trick to it: you
inhale a little before exhaling. You are supposed to be able to use
Pranayam in virtually any situation, so to practice making it an
"invisible" process is definitely worthwhile. That way you can use it,
for instance when you walk up to the platform before making a speech or
when listening to someone in an argument.