Diaphragmatic Breathing, Pranayama For A Grounded Day And Restorative Sleep…

Diaphragmatic Breathing, Pranayama For A Grounded Day And Restorative Sleep

The way we breathe changes how energy flows throughout our bodies. If you learn to breathe diaphragmatically, you will be calmer and healthier and you’ll strengthen your mind and body connection. So, take a deep breath and let’s relax.

The Right Environment for Pranayama

It’s important to be mindful of your breathing during Pranayama, which is why you’ll want to do your breathing exercises in a quiet space that’s free of distractions. Choose a clean room that’s well-ventilated. When the weather is warm, Pranayama techniques can be done outdoors.

Do You Feel Your Mind Working Overtime?

Ever feel your mind going and going? Too many thoughts? Wake up at night solving problems? Often clients share that their minds are going a million miles an hour, and they can’t shut it off. How exhausting and anxiety-provoking. What we need to do first is to return to the way we were breathing when we were born–diaphragmatic breathing. For most of us, over time, we are trained out of this healthy way of breathing. Now, we will retrain our breathing and return to our natural state of diaphragmatic breathing. When we breathe diaphragmatically, we are more relaxed and grounded.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Whether we are new to pranayama or we’ve practiced for years, we all lie in savasana, corpse pose, on a firm, flat surface on a blanket or yoga mat. You may want to cover yourself with a shawl or thin blanket. Let your arms turn so palms are upwards and arms near but away from your sides. Be comfortable. Straighten your spine. You may want to use a bolster under your knees. Breathe through your nose, focusing on the way your belly expands and contracts as you inhale and exhale. Place your right hand over your belly and your left hand over your chest. If you are breathing with your diaphragm, your right hand will move up and down while your left hand will stay still.

Once you have confirmed that you are practicing diaphragmatic breathing, in time, your breath will naturally lengthen. Simply place your attention on the gentle rise and fall of your abdomen. As you exhale, your abdomen contracts; as you inhale, it expands. There is nothing “to do,” only observing the rhythm of the breath.

Diaphragmatic breathing calms Vata dosha, leaving you feeling relaxed and grounded. It soothes the nervous system. Once diaphragmatic breathing becomes established, you can repeat this exercise without placing your hands on your chest and stomach.

Nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing

Once diaphragmatic breathing is established as a habit, then alternate nostril breathing follows. Pranayama practices should not be attempted until diaphragmatic breathing is a well-established habit. Alternate nostril breathing is one of the most effective pranayama exercises to relieve anxiety. This exercise can restore Vata balance and put your body and mind at ease.


1. Bring the right hand to the nose, fold the index finger and the middle finger so the right thumb can be used to close the right nostril and the ring finger can be used to close the left nostril (vishnu mudra). Alternatively, you may place the index and middle fingers on the bridge of the nose between the eyes.

2. Close the passive nostril and exhale completely through the active nostril.

3. At the end of the exhalation, close the active nostril and inhale through the passive nostril slowly and completely. Inhalation and exhalation should be of equal duration.

4. Repeat this cycle of exhalation with the active nostril and inhalation with the passive nostril two more times.

5. At the end of the third inhalation with the passive nostril, exhale completely through the same nostril keeping the active nostril closed with the finger.

6. At the end of the exhalation, close the passive nostril and inhale through the active nostril.

7. Repeat two more times the cycle of exhalation through the passive nostril and inhalation through the active nostril.

8. To sum up:

  • Exhale Active
  • Inhale Passive
  • Exhale Active
  • Inhale Passive
  • Exhale Active
  • Inhale Passive
  • Exhale Passive
  • Inhale Active
  • Exhale Passive
  • Inhale Active
  • Exhale Passive
  • Inhale Active

9. Return your hand to your thigh and exhale and inhale through both nostrils evenly for three complete breaths. This completes ONE cycle or a round of the nadi shodhanam practice. It is customary to do three cycles or rounds of practice.

Note: When practicing three rounds in one sitting, the second of the three rounds begin with the opposite nostril, and the pattern of alternation is, therefore, the reverse of rounds one and three. The third round is exactly the same as the first round.

Diaphragmatic breathing and alternate nostril breathing practices are the two key foundational pranayamas. Practiced consistently and in tandem with our guided practices, you will observe changes in your body and mind.

Humming Bee Breath

Close your eyes and place your thumbs over your ears. Keep your pinky fingers near your nostrils and your index fingers near your eyebrows. Take a deep breath through your nose, focusing on the way your lungs expand. Hold your breath in your lungs and press your pinky fingers against both of your nostrils, leaving them partially closed. As you exhale, use your throat to make a low-pitched humming sound. The sound should be similar to the buzzing of a bee.This is a calming breathing exercise that promotes healing throughout the body. This exercise is most effective on an empty stomach. It is an excellent way to reduce stress and improve throat health.

Bellows Breath

Close your eyes and relax your jaw. Quickly inhale and exhale through your nose, keeping your mouth closed. You should feel your ribs flare out and in as you breathe. Breathe in and out three times, then allow yourself to breathe normally before repeating this exercise again. Continue this exercise for a total of 15 seconds. Over time, you can gradually increase the duration of this exercise to a full minute. This type of breathing is highly stimulating and can leave you feeling energized. It can improve digestion and leave you feeling more alert and aware. This exercise can also lift excess kapha and remove congestion from the lungs.

The Benefits of Pranayama

Pranayama is very relaxing and can be an effective tool for stress management. It can improve lung function and strengthen the mind/body connection. The right breathing exercises can lower your blood pressure, reduce food cravings, and help you sleep peacefully at night. Breathing exercises are also an effective way to cleanse the mind and the lymphatic system. It can promote harmony in the body and leave you feeling balanced. Because there are many different breathing exercises, you can choose a Pranayama that is appropriate for your body’s needs. Although breathing exercises can be highly beneficial, they can also lead you to suppress your body’s natural urges. This could leave you feeling confused or even anxious. For this reason and others, it’s best to practice Pranayama under the guidance of a professional.

Finding the Right Breathing Exercises for You

The foundation of all pranayama is to have established diaphragmatic breathing. Learn diaphragmatic breathing and change your life. Breathing links us both to the mind and the body and is, therefore, grounding. The more we pay attention to breathing by way of a gentle awareness, the more we can relax and find our mind concentrated. That’s where diaphragmatic breathing exercises come in. Change my breath, and it changes my life? It may seem an overly dramatic claim, yet it is not. Without breath, where is life? There are many sayings in English about breath, we lost our breath, we catch it, we hold it, we take a deep breath–yet the breath of life–meaning something one depends on, is among the most profound. Breath is not something we tend to connect with consciously, yet is foundational in Ayurveda and to life itself.

There are many things that should be considered when choosing breathing exercises, including the season, your dosha, and what your body currently needs. If you’re feeling tired, an energizing breathing exercise, like bellows breath, is ideal. If you’re struggling with stress, you should choose a calming exercise.

Breathing exercises can be a part of your daily routine, but they’re also something that can be done as needed. Listen to your body and pay attention to the signals that it sends you. Once you’re accustomed to these exercises, it will be easy for you to practice them at any time.

Check out these articles on how you can build your daily rhythm:

Ayurvedic Morning Routine | 6 Rituals for a Calm and Centered Day
8 Ayurvedic Evening Rituals for a Calming Night


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Veena Haasl-Blilie


Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner As a child, Veena fell in love with Ayurveda in her family’s home, learning about herbal remedies…

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