Understanding Pranayama aka Breathwork Exercises- Benefits And Its Types


Modern-day life is stressful, there is no secret to that. Stress comes in many ways in your life and isn’t just confined to the students worrying about their semesters or working professional about their deadlines. It is in everyone’s life whether you want it or not. 

It’s quite challenging to be calm and composed in stressful situations. It often leads to clouded thoughts leading us to take bad decisions. And here comes, pranayama or the breathwork exercises in light. 

People who are familiar with yoga and its practises call it pranayama while those not, might call it a breathwork exercise but trust us, it’s the same. They have the same benefits and they need to be a part of one’s life. 

If you dont know what we are talking about, then we’ll explain everything in a bit.

Related Read: Everything You Need To Know About Yoga

What Is Pranayama?

We have established the fact that yoga is more than just asanas. The fourth limb of yoga, that is pranayama is associated with breathing. Pranayama (“Prana” mean breath or vital energy in the body and “Ayama” means control) is “Control of Breath.”  It helps connect the body with the mind. 

While performing yoga, you control your breathing duration, timing and frequency. In yogic beliefs, it is strongly believed that you can control your inner force, also known as prana, through a pranayama practice. Through the pranayam, you establish a connection between your mind and body by focussing on your breathing. This helps not just in physical well-being but also in mental well-being.

Three phases. A pranayama cycle has three phases:

  • Puraka, or inhalation
  • Kumbhaka, or retention
  • Rechaka, or exhalation 

Pranayama should be done before meditation as it helps you to compose your breath and calm your mind. Once finishing it successfully, it is easier to sit down for the meditation.

Benefits Of Pranayama

1. Increases The Lung Capacity

The inhalation, exhalation and breath retention help increase the lung capacity when you perform pranayama. Your lungs are made up of muscles and it can be very beneficial to that muscle. These breathing exercises help in strengthening the muscle and thus increasing your lung capacity.

On top of that, a study also proves that doing pranayam regularly also reduced lung infection significantly.

2. Helps In Improving Cognitive Health

Aside from your lung health, pranayam is also found to improve your cognitive health. According to a study, it is found that the regular practice of slow or fast pranayam could improve cognitive health. 

According to the researchers, these benefits are due to the stress-lowering effects of pranayama. The increased oxygen uptake while performing pranayama fuels the brain cells with more energy and it is believed that this is the primary reason behind it.

3. Regulates Your Stress

Pranayama has proven to be very beneficial to people who have stress. Because pranayam involves breathing exercises, your brain starts to calm down. When you start focussing on your breathing, your stress levels come down which is why pranayama is extremely beneficial in stressful modern lives.

According to the studies conducted in 2013  pranayama reduced perceived stress levels in healthy young adults. The researchers speculated that pranayama calms the nervous system, which improves stress levels.

4. Helps Reduce Anxiety

Since pranayama is a powerful exercise and plays a vital role in improving your cognitive health and managing stress levels, it is believed that it helps reduce your anxiety level.

5. Improves The Quality Of Sleep

If you have trouble falling asleep, pranayama can help you fall asleep faster. It again lies in the same fact that pranayama helps calm the brain which makes you fall asleep faster.

According to the studies, it is found that pranayama more specifically Bhramahri slows down breathing and heart rate when practised for 5 minutes. This may help your body to calm down and fall asleep.

Related Read: 12 Sleep Hacks You Must Try For A Good Night’s Sleep

6. Increases Mindfulness

As mentioned previously that while doing pranayama, we have to focus on our breaths. When we focus on our inhalation and exhalation and pay attention to our breathing, we are promoting mindfulness. 

7. Helps Maintain High Blood Pressure

If you have hypertension, pranayama can help you. It is found to have worked very well for people who have high blood pressure. Your blood pressure is considered high when the systolic and diastolic rates are higher than normal. It s very dangerous as it could lead to serious health conditions.

One of the major reasons for hypertension is stress. Once stress is managed, the blood pressure level can be managed too. Since pranayama is known for its quality to reduce stress and his inturn manages blood pressure levels.

8. Helps In Quitting Smoking

If you are trying to quit smoking then doing pranayam can reduce your cigarette cravings and can help you quit it ultimately.

How To Practise Pranayama


1. Anolom- Vilom Pranayama

The Anolom-Vilom or the alternate nose breathing pranayam helps increase lung capacity, reduces stress, and anxiety and helps in concentration and focus.

2. Kapalbhati Pranayama

Kapalbhati or the skull shining breathing technique improves digestive health and removes all gastric issues. It also helps to reduce stress and alleviate mod.

3. Bhastrika Pranayama

Bhastrika pranayam helps maintain blood pressure, reduces the risk of heart diseases and is a perfect exercise for the motor and nervous system. It increases the oxygen flow to your brain which gives a boost in energy.

4. Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi pranayama is beneficial to people who have thyroid problems. It further reduces stress and improves sleep quality.

5. Bhramhri Pranayama

Bhramhri pranayam helps in manay ways. It helps maintain blood pressure thus it is good for people who suffer from hypertension. Bhramhri pranayama is known to reduce the stress level and bring peace to the individual performing. It is very calming in nature therefore it is recommended for people who struggle to fall asleep at night.

Related Read: 8 Bedtime Yoga Poses To Help You Fall Asleep Faster

Our Final Thoughts

Pranayam is an essential part of yoga. While asana is good for physical wellbeing, pranayam is the part of yoga which is good for your mental well-being. If done regularly in the right way, then many benefits could be reap benefits from it. 

It is a healthy habit which should be a part of everyone’s daily routine without a miss!

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