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How To Do The Yoga Breathing Exercises (Part 3)

Okay, we are back with the Yogic Pranayama Exercises.

I have to stress quickly that here; we are going over some exercises of dare I say more on the spiritually related side of things.

Furthermore, I will be the first to say with all the rules attached to it, considering my age, current social lifestyles. I practice the abdominal and breathing exercises maybe once or twice a week now.

Hey, I’m not Sivananda himself now.

Still, I will say, yes there is a world of a difference in a Yoga routine when practiced from beginning to end in their specific orders.

So here we go.

Kapalabathi (Shining Skull Exercise)

Commence this exercise after 2 weeks or more of Alternate nose and/or deep breathing as by this time, optimal breathing should have been perfected. A few rounds of this exercise will invigorate and cleanse the body of excess carbon dioxide.

It is especially useful to control movements of the diaphragm and to remove spasm in bronchial tubes, consequently persons suffering from Asthma and other respiratory diseases will find this very helpful as they are relieved of this encumbrance and cured in due time, of course adhering to our dietetic guidelines.

It aids in curing consumption, removes impurities for the blood and tones the circulatory and respiratory systems. Intake of oxygen makes the blood richer as it renews the body’s tissues. Moreover the constant movements of the diaphragm act as a stimulant to the stomach, liver and pancreas.


Take a few breaths and see that the diaphragm is moving properly. Now with the eyes closed (as they should be when performing all breathing exercises) make a sudden contraction of the abdomen with a backward push. This leads to a sudden yet firm expulsion of stagnant air from the lungs.

Now follow this with a sudden relaxation (which naturally makes the new air rush in) now perform the exercise in this manner: passive inhalation and active expulsions at a rate of sudden abdominal push per second one after the other. A round should have 15-20 expulsions. Do not exceed 3 rounds

(You may gradually increase to 120 expulsions per round and then perform only 2 rounds. As soon as you are doing 50 expulsions per round, do not exceed 2 rounds!) Between each round take a pause for say 30 seconds of normal breathing.

A brief note, kapalabathi should be performed before Alternate nose breathing after the latter has been perfected which consequently perfects your breathing.

For an average health seeker you may (in addition to the poses) stop here for breathing exercise purposes but if you’re like me and want to go further feel free to read on the following (Expectant mothers should not perform this exercise after 2 months of pregnancy!)


After a mastery of Kapalabathi and Anuloma viloma pranayama, you may now proceed to learn of these locks. They are usually practiced during retention of the breath and as their names suggest, they lock the energy in the air inside of you as a practitioner.

The three main ones are

1. The Chin Lock (common to the shoulder stand)

2. The Anal lock (similar to exercises where the muscles used to block urine and or feces are tightly held).

3. The Abdominal Lock which is one of the abdominal exercises, Uddiyana bandha.

Lock 1 and 2 are performed during retention while the third one is basically performed after exhalation.

Now there are 8 kinds of Advanced Breathing exercises which can be practiced at various times of the year depending on the weather. But only one of these eight

Can be performed year round and is actually named as the king of the pranayamas.

It is known as Bhastrika.


In Sanskrit it means bellows breath and is quite similar to Kapalabathi, but its effects on a person are quite different.


-As in kapalabathi, perform 10 expulsions at a rate of 1 per second.

-Now inhale for a count of 16 seconds.

-Hold the breath (in this case you can leave the nose open) for a count of 64 seconds. While retaining the breath, apply locks 1 and 2.

-After retention, release the chin and anal locks then exhale through the right nostril for a count of 32 seconds by blocking the left nostril with your ring finger.

-After exhalation, immediately apply locks 1, 2 and 3 simultaneously for 6 seconds.

-now unlock all bandhas and breathe normally for 30 seconds and resume another round.

According to Sri Swami Sivananda, even one round of Bhastrika is enough to give you average fitness, you want ideally to perform 3 rounds, carefully and DO NOT



-Be regular and systematic in your practice.

-Do not twist the face while retaining the breath.

-If you get aches and pains in the chest, suspend performing the exercises till the discomfort subsides.


-Ensure to perform Prana Mudra, the classic yoga pose of the fingers where the thumb and the tips of the middle and ring fingers are joined together.

-While exhaling in Bhastrika, ensure that you have the right hand in the mudra as in Alternate Nose Breathing as well.

Now for the average health seeker not interested in spiritual advancement just yet, according to Dr. Arnold Ehret, a great substitute for these advanced breathing exercises would be to sing as it induces loosening by chest vibrations.

Either way it goes Air is more important than food so breathe deeply!


Foras Aje

# # #

If you keep saying things are going to be bad, you have a chance of being a prophet.
- Isaac B. Singer


This article is written by Foras Aje, an independent researcher and author of “Fitness: Inside and out”, which provides tips on how to improve and maintain your health using all natural methods. For more information on these guidelines:




One Response to “How To Do The Yoga Breathing Exercises (Part 3)”

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