Breath Practices (pranayama): The Large Image

11 Apr 2018, 6:31pm -

Health Advice

- About Balancing Breath Practices
by Nina
After the Cloud by Leon Berkowitz*In the last week or so, two different yoga practitioners have told me that they were encouraged to practice a Kapalabhati breath even though they were stressed out. Both were under the impression that all forms of pranayama (breath practices) were relaxing but found that they didn’t actually like Kapalabhati and were wondering why. I explained that breath practices feel into three categories: stimulating, calming, and balancing. After I explained why Kapalabhati fell into the first category and why, the light bulb went on for them. And they were both so relieved to have this explanation and to understand how they should chose the breath practices that were right for them at a given time.

That made me think that even though this information about the three types of breath practices is on the blog, it would be worthwhile to get it out there again. It has been a while since we wrote the original posts and, of course, the various posts are not all in one place. So today I’m going to do one of my overview posts so you can dig into this subject for the first time or simple refresh your memories.

I’ll start with the background posts about breath practices in general and how they affect your nervous system. Then I’ll list the posts that describe how to practice our recommended breath practices.

Background on Pranayama (Breath Practices)

Pranayama: A Powerful Key to Your Nervous Systemby Nina. If you read only one post, choose this one! It explains why and which breath practices fall into the categories of stimulating, calming, and balancing.

Breath Practices: If They're Not Working for You, They're Not Working for You by Nina. This important post explains why breath practices might not be working for you as advertised, and why it’s important to pay attention to that.

Techniques for Supporting Your Respiratory Systemby Baxter and Nina. This post recommends techniques for supporting the health of your respiratory system, whether you are healthy and want to stay that way, or whether you have a respiratory disorder or medical condition that directly affects or may eventually affect your respiratory system.


The Fourth Branch of Yoga: Pranayama by Ram. This post explains how the breath practices fit into the eight-fold path of yoga described in the Yoga Sutras.

Breath and Energy (Pranamaya Kosha) by Beth. This post explores the relationship between breath and prana according to the kosha model of the human being.

Diving Deeper into Prana by Baxter. With assistance from Richard Rosen, Baxteexplains the relationship between breath and prana in the yoga tradition.

How to Practice

A Balm for the Soul: Practicing Simple Breath Awarenessby Nina. This post explains how to practice breath awareness, which is traditionally a necessary first step before learning formal breath practices.

Calming Breath Practices We Recommendby Baxter and Nina. This post provides detailed instructions for practicing basic (and safe) calming breath practices.

Breath Practices for Balanceby Baxter and Nina. This post provides detailed instructions for practicing basic (and safe) balancing breath practices.

Balancing Your Nervous System with Alternate Nostril Breathingby Timothy McCall. This post provides instructions for practicing one of Timothy's favorite balancing breath practices.

Pranayama for Everyone: Bhramari Breath Practiceby Timothy McCall. This post provides instructions for practicing one of Timothy's favorite balancing breath practices.

Bhramari Pranayama with Mudrasby Timothy McCall. This post provides instructions for practicing one of Timothy's favorite balancing breath practices with traditional mudras included.


Stimulating Breath Practices We Recommendby Baxter and Nina. This post provides detailed instructions for practicing basic (and safe) stimulating breath practices.

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