teaching pranayama for beginners

By Anshu Kumari

A gentle and easy introduction to the art of Pranayama for beginners is a crucial part of a foundational class. Pranayama is the fourth limb of Ashtanga yoga, and is also called as the “Heart of Yoga.” Pranayama for beginners teaches students how to use our lungs to the optimum capacity; as a result of which, the cells in our body are able to get sufficient quantity of oxygen. Though there are about 20 pranayamas; some of the pranayamas which are easy, and can easily be practiced by beginners are as follows Sunhat pranayama, Pranava pranayama, Kapalabhati, Anuloma Viloma pranayama, Bhramari pranayama and Sheetkari pranayama.

Sukha pranayama: This is the easiest of all the pranayama techniques. This is also called as deep abdominal breathing. Sukha pranayama is a great stress buster and a powerful mental tonic. It’s a great pranayama for relieving stress, fear, worry, anxiety and depression.

Technique: Sit down comfortably in a cross-legged posture, with your back straight, and chin parallel to the ground. Gently close your eyes now. All you need to do here is to concentrate on your breath and the movement your abdomen; breathe-in to the count of 5 and breathe-out to the count of 5. Keep your one hand over your abdomen so that you can feel the expansion and contraction as you inhale and exhale. As you breathe-in, your abdomen slowly expands and as you breathe out your abdomen contracts. Do this pranayama for about 3 to 5 minutes; after doing a couple of rounds of this pranayama, you shall feel quite peaceful and elated.

Anuloma Viloma pranayama: This is also called as the alternate Nostril Breathing. Anuloma Viloma is beneficial in the treatment of various diseases including heart problems, high blood pressure, and blockages in the arteries, insomnia, panic disorders, and depression.

Technique: Sit in a cross-legged posture with your back straight and chin parallel to the ground; gently close your eyes now. Make an Apana mudra with your right hand (join the tip of the middle finger, ring finger, and the thumb together; the other two fingers should be pointed outwards). Now close your right nostril with the help of your thumb, and exhale out all your breath from the left nostril; your abdomen should sink all the way in. This is the starting position of this pranayama. Inhale from the left nostril to the count of 4; your abdomen expands outwards.

Next, close your left nostril with the help of the ring finger and middle finger, and exhale through the right nostril to the count of 8; your abdomen contracts as you exhale. Now inhale from the right nostril to the count 4 (your abdomen expands); close your right nostril with the thumb, and exhale through the left nostril to the count of 8 (your abdomen contracts). This completes your one round of Anuloma Viloma pranayama. Do at least 15 to 20 rounds of Anuloma Viloma pranayama.

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