One of the key things for beginners is to get regular with a Yoga practice. As a beginner, I struggled to be consistent with my Yoga practice. One of the things that helped me stay regular is taking a few steps, a few asanas at a time.
We all tend to have busy schedules and one of the things that we often de-prioritize is our health, especially mental health. For beginners, or for procrastinators, I’d recommend doing these 3 simple pranayamas to ensure a consistent Yoga practice. If I’m having a busy schedule, I make sure I don’t miss these 3 to keep my mind calm and in check. These are extremely simple to do.
1. Anulon Vilom Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Anulom-Vilom is a very simple Pranayama in Yoga. The breathing exercise involves inhaling from one nostril only while closing the other nostril, and subsequently closing the other nostril while exhaling. You then can repeat this process. You are fundamentally inhaling from one nostril while keeping the other nostril closed with your fingers, and then exhaling from the other nostril while closing the nostril from which you inhaled.
According to many scientific studies, this pranayama has many health benefits including improved respiratory function, reduction of stress, and even improved cardi-vascular function.
How to practice Anulom-Vilom
- Find a quiet place, fold your legs, keep your spine and neck straight and close your eyes.
- Try to first clear your mind of all thoughts and only focus on your breath.
- Using your right/left hand, fold your middle and index fingers toward your palm.
- Place your thumb on your right nostril and your ring finger on your left nostril (if you are using the right hand, else the opposite).
- Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through your left nostril, slowly and deeply, until your lungs are full.
- Close your left nostril with your ring finger and release your thumb.
- Exhale slowly through the right nostril.
- Now inhale from the right nostril and reverse this process.
- Do at least 5 sets of this in one go.
2. Bhastrika Pranayama (Yogic Breath of Fire)
The breath of fire is the name given to this yoga breathing pranayama. Both inhalation and exhalation are forced in this asana. Exhaling and inhaling are part of Bharastika to ensure that our bodies get enough oxygen. This asana strengthens the lungs, relieves allergies, asthma, and respiratory diseases, boosts the immune system, and alleviates the common cold. This breathing exercise should not be attempted by people who have high blood pressure or acute heart problems. Bhastrika Pranayama should be avoided if you have high blood pressure because it produces heat in your body.
How to do Bhastrika Pranayma
- Place yourself in vajrasana or sukhasana (cross-legged position). (Because your spine is erect and your diaphragmatic movement is better in vajrasana, pranayama can be more effective.)
- Make a fist with your hands and fold your arms near your shoulders.
- Deeply inhale, straighten your arms, and open your fists.
- Exhale slowly and forcefully, bringing your arms down to your shoulders and fists closed.
- Continue for a total of 20 breaths.
- Place your palms on your thighs and relax.
- Take a few deep breaths normally.
- Repeat for a total of two more rounds.
3. AUM Chanting
Once you’ve completed one set of Anulom-Vilom, and subsequently Bhastrika Pranayama, you can close the session with 5 deep AUM chants.
How to do AUM Chanting
- You need to sit in a relaxed pose, with your eyes closed.
- Take a deep breath, and fill your lungs to their full capacity.
- Slowly chant Aaa–000–MMM.
- This is supposed to activate the Ajna chakra in your body.
- Chant it as slowly as possible while you are exhaling.
- Repeat it 5 times
The 3 breathing exercises of Anulom-Vilom i.e. alternate nostril breathing, bhastrika pranayma (yogic breath of fire), and closing your session with AUM chanting can help you relax and prepare you for the day. You can also do this in the evening if you are unable to do this in the morning. Doing this every day will not take you more than 15 minutes. But doing this consistently for a couple of weeks will ensure you get initiated into the Yoga practice. The practice is so powerful that you’ll see positive effects yourself. 🙏