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Winter Pranayamas

The winter season is fast approaching & it is quite necessary that the flow of energy in our body is maintained. For that, we must try to increase the immunity in the body through Yoga & Pranayama. This season is also a season of respiratory diseases like cough, cold, asthma, bronchitis & many other breathing problems. There are some specific Pranayamas, which are very good in winter season. These Pranayamas increase the gastric fire thus generating energy in the form of heat in the body, increase appetite, destroy mucus, remove disorders of the respiratory system & improves efficiency of the nervous system. Also good for those who feel more cold in winters, useful in diabetes, obesity, asthma, sinus and enhances purity of consciousness. These exercises not only supply oxygen to the body but also remove wastes and toxins and protect us against harmful intruders.


Sit in any comfortable posture with spine, head & neck straight. Rest the hands on the respective knees in Gyan Mudra posture. (Join the tips of the index fingers to the tips of the thumbs while keeping the other fingers loose). Close the eyes & look within. Feel the whole body relaxing.


Bring the right palm in front of the face & bend first two fingers at the root of the thumb. Close your left nostril with your ring & the little fingers. Slowly inhale through your right nostril. Now after inhalation close your right nostril with your thumb (left nostril is already closed) and hold the breath inside according to your capacity. Then remove the ring & little fingers from the left nostril & exhale slowly through your left nostril. This is one round. Do 11 times. Don’t hold the breath if suffering from Asthma.



Closing the mouth, start by inhaling long, slow, deep breaths through both your nostrils in such a way that while inhaling the touch of air is experienced in the throat to the chest. In short, after inhaling the breath through the nose, the passage of the incoming air is felt on the roof of the palate first, then towards the throat & then to the lungs. As you inhale, a typical sound is created due to the friction of air in the throat. Feel the contraction in the throat & expand the chest with the breath. The sound is as if wind blows with pressure. It should be uniform and continuous .It should emerge from the upper part of your throat& not from the upper or front part of your nose. After completing inhalation, very slowly exhale. Stretch your inhale and exhale as much as you can without generating tension anywhere in your body. This completes one cycle of Ujjayi Pranayama. Repeat the cycles for three to five minutes or according to your body capacity.



Inhale normally; exhale rapidly and forcefully through the nostrils by contracting the abdominal muscles quickly with a backward push. This completes one cycle of Kapalabhati exercise. Repeat the cycles for three to five minutes or according to your body capacity. In this process, shoulders or any other part of the body should not move up and down. Normally when people breathe out, they bend the body to the front from the waist and give a jerk, or shake the shoulders and head violently which would be highly incorrect. Do not use body force and there should not be any strain or jerk on the muscles of the face, especially corner of the lips, nose & eye muscles.


Bhastrika is quite akin to Kapalbhati. For performing Kapalbhati, we breathe in very slowly and breathe out very speedily. But In Bhastrika Pranayama we breathe in & breathe out rapidly and forcefully one after another. This Pranayama can be done in three variable speeds viz. slow speed, moderate speed and at high speed depending upon the capacity and health of an individual.


Breathe in & breathe out through both the nostrils forcefully without straining yourself. With each inhalation, the diaphragm descends & the abdomen moves outward. With each exhalation, the diaphragm moves upwards & the abdomen moves inward. We have to coordinate the breath with stomach movements. Whenever you want to stop, breathe in deeply, press the chin on the chest and hold the breath as long as you feel comfortable. Now raise the head up and breathe out slowly. It completes one round of Bhastrika. Take rest for a while by taking a few normal breaths. Make two-three rounds.

  1. Beginners should practice these Pranayama slowly at first, allowing their bodies time to adapt to the practice.
  2. If you are suffering from severe cough or sinus and both your nostrils are not open, close the right nostril first and do respiration (exhalation as well as inhalation) through the left nostril forcefully. Then do the same with the other nostril. Continue this method till both the nostrils open simultaneously.
  3. Those suffering from high blood pressure, any heart disease, hernia, gastric ulcers, vertigo, epilepsy, lung diseases such as asthma or poor lungs capacity or recovering from tuberculosis should do under expert guidance.
  4. Pregnant ladies should not do these Pranayamas.To be avoided during menstruation.
  5. If you experience any giddiness, stop the practice and take a few normal breaths. Continue the practice after normalcy.
  6. It is best to perform these Pranayamas in the presence of a qualified yoga teacher.
Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna

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