Yoga Breath

Yoga Breath (Pranayama)


Yoga breath promotes health and vitality in our lungs. In yoga, we inhale and exhale through our nostrils; but, occasionally we exhale through our mouth (i.e. –  Cleansing Breath). If our lungs are healthy, we can add breath retention (a pausing after inhaling or exhaling) to improve lung capacity over time. Yoga breath control can be used to calm down, to energize, or to meditate. Yoga breathing exercises include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Expanding Breath (practiced in back bends)
  • Sinking Breath (practiced in forward folds)
  • Three-Part Breath (lower, middle and upper lungs)
  • Diaphragmatic Breathing (middle lungs)
  • Abdominal Breathing (lower lungs)
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing (side to side)
  • Warming Single Nostril Breathing (right only)
  • Cooling Single Nostril Breathing (left only)
  • Breath of Fire (Stimulating. Avoid if you have high or low blood pressure.)
  • Whisper Breath (Ujjayi Breath)
  • Equal Ratio Breathing (6-8 counts per inhale and exhale)

To practice Equal Ratio Breathing and breath retention, visit and then click on the “Universal Breathing Room.” This free Web site lets you customize your experience by choosing colors, background sounds and on-screen inspirations.

Recommended Reading: The Science of Breath by Yogi Rachmacharia