February 7, 2013

Viloma Pranayama Breathing Practice

Viloma Pranayama is a breathing practice. Viloma: Vi (against) and Loma (hair);  meaning against the flow. Pranayama: Prana (life force) and Yama (control); meaning to control the breath. In Viloma Pranayama the inhalations and exhalations are interrupted with controlled pauses.

Viloma Pranayama lightens the body and strengthens the respiratory system as well as giving your breath awareness.

This practice can be done seated or lying down. I will explain one variation of Viloma Pranayam, there are several variations or you can create your own. Start by inhaling and exhaling several cycles with a long slow breath allowing the body to relax so the breath becomes even. Through the whole practice you'll be breathing through the nose.

Now on your next exhalation pause when the breath is half way out for about 4 seconds before continuing until your lungs are empty. When comfortable with one pause you can work on pausing on the inhale and exhale multiple times as well as the top of the inhalation and bottom of the exhalation. You can change the length of the pause from 2 - 5 seconds. When I do the Viloma Pranayama breathing practice with my students we pause at the top of the inhalation, half of the exhalation and at the bottom of the exhalation for a count of 4 at each pause. You can be creative and change how many pauses and how long to hold the pause. Repeat the cycles 7 - 10 minutes or what is comfortable for you. Play with it and have fun.

If you begin to feel dizzy or light-headed or working beyond your capacity come back to your normal breath.

Other things to consider with this practice are you do not want to hold your pauses so long that it has a negative affect on your next inhalation or exhalation. You may have to reduce the number of pauses and their length if you notice strain or conflict. Work toward a comfortable practice without struggling.

Breathing practices are great for everyone. Breathing is more important than the poses we do in Yoga. When we practice breathing we develop a breath awareness and when in a stressful situation it will allow us to control our breathing and calm our nervous system.

As a wise teacher once told me "If you can blink and you can breath you can exercise".

Happy & Health
Yoga Chuck

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