How long should pranayama be done?


Everyone breathes in and out about 20,000 to 30,000 times a day. Most people do this subconsciously. Often the breathing habits are rather bad and ineffective. In these cases, stale air builds up in the lungs. The consequences are listlessness and poor performance.

Incorrect breathing can also be an indicator of stress. The breaths are then rather shallow and short. This prevents the approximately 4 liters of blood in the body from receiving sufficient oxygen. As a result, not all toxins can be removed, which can lead to cells and organs being poisoned. As a result, the person feels battered and sluggish.

Correct breathing
You should always inhale and exhale through your nose. After each inhalation or exhalation, there is a short pause in which the oxygen can get into the cells.

Correct breathing relaxes the mind, muscles and organs and helps prevent tension in our organism. Correct breathing means gaining inner peace and tranquility.

The Yogic Breathing Techniques (Prana-Yama)
Prana means breath, breathing, life, vitality, wind, energy or life force. The word describes, among other things, the vital breaths. Ayama means length, expansion, stretching out or withdrawing. So Prãnãyãma means the expansion of the breath and its mastery / control.

Pranayama is the fourth stage in the eightfold path of Pantajali and is explained in detail in the fourth chapter of Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Pranayama exercises are targeted breathing techniques and an important part of classical yoga. The exercises bring the breath under control so that it can optimally fulfill its function. Favorable conditions are created so that the life energy can develop.

The yogi assumes that his life is not determined by the number of days he lives, but by the number of breaths. That is why he follows the rhythmic model of pure, long and deep breathing. Because this is how most of the prana (life energy) flows in and can then best circulate through the body or its energy fields. The quality of the breath is decisive for the autonomic nervous system and thus also every body function that is connected with it. A good quality of breath strengthens the mind, lifts the mood and activates brain activity.

A close connection and interaction between calm mind and calm breath is generally seen.

The breath from a yogic point of view
There are 3 functions of breath:

  • Inhale - Pûraka (fullness of breath)
  • Exhale - Rechaka (void of breath)
  • Holding your breath - Kumbhaka (silence)

There are 2 types of Kumbhaka’s:

  • Antara Kumbhaka - holding the breath after full inhalation
  • Bahaya Kumbhaka - holding the breath after fully exhaling

Bahaya Kumbhaka may only be performed if Antara Kumbhaka succeeds easily.

Regular pranayama has a very intense effect on the body and the vegetative nervous system. Accordingly, it may only be practiced after a complete cleansing of the body systems (Shatkarmas) and under the guidance of an experienced teacher. Start with short sequences and only increase the duration and intensity slowly and in small steps!

Some pointers:

  • The best time to practice is early in the morning (especially before sunrise) and after sunset. During this time, particularly favorable energetic conditions prevail.
  • The best times of the year to start pranayama are spring and autumn when the climate is moderate.
  • Pranayama should be practiced in a clean, well-ventilated place. Since noise creates inner restlessness, you should practice in quiet hours.
  • Cleanse your body internally (Kriya) as well as externally before pranayama.
  • Pranayama should preferably be practiced on an empty stomach.
  • Light food can be consumed half an hour after pranayama.

Alternating breathing (Nadi Sodhana)
This breathing technique is recommended before performing advanced breathing control exercises.

The translation is "Purification of the Nadis". Nadis are energy channels that run through the whole body and in which the life energy Prana circulates. They can be compared with the meridians in Chinese medicine, in which the Chi - the Chinese expression for life energy - circulates.

When breathing alternately, we breathe in and out alternately through the individual nasal passages.

  • The right nasal passage is assigned to the sun and thus to warmth, activity, intellect and male energy.
  • The left nasal passage is assigned to the moon, coolness, rest and feminine energy.
  • The breathing exercise increases our alertness.
  • Calms the nerves and quickly leads to a deep calm of the thoughts.
  • It connects the right and left sides of the body and brain.

Take a comfortable and stable seat (you can also sit on a chair) and straighten your back. Place your left hand on your thigh and practice nasal occlusions with your right hand.

  • Start by exhaling through both nostrils. Then close the right nostril with the thumb of your right hand.
  • Inhale slowly, steadily, and deeply through your left nostril.
  • After inhaling completely, gently (!) Close the left nostril with the ring and little finger of the right hand.
  • Open the right nostril again and exhale slowly, steadily, and deeply through the right nostril. Empty the lungs completely.
  • Now breathe in slowly, steadily and deeply through the right nostril.
  • Close with your thumb on the right
  • Open left and exhale on the left
  • Inhale on the left, close the left with your ring finger and little finger
  • Open right and exhale on the right
  • Inhale on the right, lock on the right
  • Exhale on the left
  • Inhale on the left, lock on the left
  • Etc.
  • End the cycle with an exhale on the left