by Shannon Crow, E-RYT500

At our Tuesday night 7pm classes at Tone Studio we have been learning a new breath practice (pranayama) each week.

Last week we learned the Humming Bee Breath (Bhramari Pranayama).

This week we learned both the Long Exhale and Viloma Pranayama (breath) with pauses added to the exhale. These breath practices are similar because they both lengthen the exhale. Whys would we want to lengthen our exhale?

Benefits of Lengthening the Exhale:girl-meditation

  • Relaxes the nervous system
  • Increases relaxation and sleep
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Increases lung capacity and breath control
  • Releases tension
  • Cools the body

We wouldn’t want to lengthen the exhale when we are trying to become more awake, focused and alert, but this is a great breath for relaxation, sleep and calm.

How to do the Long Exhale Breath

  1. Lie on your back or sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Bring one hand to your abdomen and feel the belly expand with each inhale and relax with each exhale.
  3. Start to count the inhale and exhale. It doesn’t matter what the number is as long as you are feeling comfortable and not forcing the breath. Begin to make the inhale and exhale equal in length.
  4. Once the inhale and exhale are equal, slowly lengthen the exhale until you get to a 1:2 ratio (so if your inhale is 3 counts then the exhale will be 6). Again make sure that you are not forcing the exhale to a place of discomfort.
  5. If at anytime you feel agitated or short of breath then return to equal inhales and exhales.

Once you feel comfortable with The Long Exhale Breath, then you might want to try Viloma Pranayama (also known as Ladder Breath).

Viloma means against the natural flow and it involves pausing the breath.

* Caution – Viloma breath is cautioned during pregnancy because holding the breath affects oxygen flow to the baby. Pregnant women can get the same benefits with the long exhale breath.

Viloma can be done in three ways:droplet of words-pause-breathe

  1. Pausing on the inhale
  2. Pausing on both the inhale and exhale
  3. Pausing on the exhale

Since we are focusing on the long exhale and the calming, cooling and relaxing effects we will pause on the exhale.

How to do Viloma Pranayama:

  1. Lie on your back or sit on a comfortable position.
  2. Bring one hand to your abdomen and feel the belly expand with each inhale and relax with each exhale.
  3. Come into a nice equal breath. Inhale.
  4. Exhale 1/3 of the breath, pause, exhale another third, pause, exhale and pause.
  5. Inhale and repeat three exhales with pauses after each.
  6. Find a comfortable length of inhale and exhale so that you are finding calm and comfort. If you are feeling like the breath is forced or you are lacking air return to regular breathing.

Here is a video on Ekhart Yoga that will guide you through the viloma breath.