Pranayama for Weight Loss - Yoga Instructor Blog

Pranayama for Weight Loss

pranayama for weight lossBy Faye Martins

Does pranayama for weight loss work? When it comes to weight loss, every little bit counts. That includes your breath! Yoga breathing, or pranayama, is a great way to help shed those unwanted pounds. Pranayama is an ancient Yogic practice that means “extension of the life force.” It is a form of breathing exercise with many benefits, including weight loss.


Weight Control and Stress

When stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. This puts your body into a state of sympathetic dominance, which means that your body is in a constant state of stress and tension. This can lead to weight gain, as your body stores fat for energy. Pranayama for weight loss can help to reverse this process by putting your body into a state of parasympathetic dominance.

How Does it Work?

This is the “rest and digest” state, where your body can focus on healing and repair. This allows your body to release the stored fat and start burning it for energy, leading to weight loss. In addition to helping with weight loss, yoga breathing can also help to reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost immunity. So, if you’re looking for a holistic way to lose weight, yoga breathing is a great place to start!


Teaching Yoga Breathing for Weight Loss

Regarding weight loss, yoga breathing exercises, or pranayama, can be extremely helpful. By taking control of your breath, you can help to control your appetite and cravings. There are a few different yoga breathing exercises that you can do to help with weight loss.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

One is called Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing. This exercise helps to calm the mind and body and can be done by sitting comfortably and closing your eyes. Take your right hand and place your index and middle fingers between your eyebrows. Use your thumb to close your right nostril, and inhale slowly through your left nostril. Then close off your left nostril with your ring finger and release your right nostril. Exhale out through the right nostril. Continue this pattern for a few minutes.



Another pranayama for weight loss technique is Kapalabhati or skull-shining breath. This exercise helps to stimulate the digestive system and aids in metabolism. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight. Place your hands on your knees with your palms up. Inhale deeply through the nose, then exhale forcefully, contracting the stomach muscles. Do this for about 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time. Yoga breathing exercises are a great way to help with weight loss as they help to control the appetite and cravings. They also help to stimulate the digestive system, which aids in metabolism.

Calming Breathing Exercises

Some calming breathing exercises work! I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that doing certain breathing exercises helps to slow down my heart rate and calm me down. Here are a few examples of calming breathing exercises that you can try:

1. Equal Breathing: This is a simple breathing exercise you can do anywhere, anytime. Just inhale through your nose for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. Repeat this pattern for as long as you like.

2. 4-2-4 Breathing: This is a great exercise to do before bedtime, as it can help you fall asleep more easily. Inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of two, then exhale through your mouth for a count of four. Repeat this pattern for as long as you like.

3. Breath Counting: This is another simple breathing exercise you can do anywhere. Just focus on your breath and count each inhale and exhale. You can start with a count of ten and then work your way up.

4. Belly Breathing: This is a great exercise to help improve your overall posture and to help relieve stress in the lower back and shoulders. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. As you inhale, focus on expansion at the navel. As you exhale, draw your navel toward your spine.

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Teaching Pranayama for Weight Loss

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

When we think about teaching pranayama for weight loss, we often think of vigorous Power Yoga routines or physically challenging Yoga practices performed in heated studios. These kramas or Yoga asana sequences help boost students’ metabolisms, burn calories and expedite weight loss. However, it is also important to balance your students’ sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems through pranayama exercises to facilitate mental well-being and hormonal balance.

Mental Clarity

By balancing these different systems, your students will enjoy greater mental clarity, ease, energy, and well-being. In addition, their cortisol levels will come down, which will help to mitigate cravings for calorie-dense food. Feelings of anxiety and depression will also be alleviated by incorporating pranayama exercises into your classes, such as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, that soothe and balance the nervous system. By bolstering your students’ metabolisms and mental well-being, you will holistically support them in their weight loss goals.


Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

When teaching pranayama for weight loss, Nadi Shodhana is a Yogic breathing exercise that is often practiced at the end of class and just before meditation and Shavasana. When you are ready to begin the pranayama instructions, invite your students to sit in Easy Seat on their Yoga mats. Begin by guiding your class to take three full, complete breaths. With their next inhale, have them place their right hand’s index and middle finger on the area between their eyebrows. Ask your students to gently close off the left nostril with the ring finger and little finger of the right hand, and then instruct them to exhale slowly and completely for a count of five through their right nostrils.


Completing the Technique

As they complete their exhale, instruct your Yoga students to inhale slowly and completely through their right nostril for a count of five. When they have completed their inhale, guide your students to pinch off their right nostril with the thumb of their right hand and exhale softly and slowly for a count of five through their left nostril. Continue In this way, alternating nostrils for 5-10 rounds, and then have your students rest for some time in Shavasana. If time permits, you may wish to invite your students to spend a few minutes in meditation as you offer them a Yogic aphorism, spiritual teaching, or contemplation.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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