Pranayama - For More Energy

Prana means 'energy', or 'vital lifeforce'. Yama means 'control'.

There are many Pranayama techniques, ranging from beginner to advanced. Most of these involve breathing, or controlling the process of breathing.

According to yoga, the quality of the breath reflects the amount of vital energy present in the body.

Through conscious practice of Pranayama, one gains control of their energy and is able to retain more energy for any specific use.

The best times to practice are in the morning upon waking up, after a yoga class, or in the evening instead of dinner.

Start with a 5 to 10-minute practice. Allow your body to adjust gradually to the inflow of new energy.

If you can breathe, you can do yoga!

Common Pranayama Practices:

1. Deerga Swasam, or Three-Part Breath;
2. Kapalabhati, or Skull-Shining Breath;
3. Antara/Bahya Kumbhaka, or Breath Retention on Inhale/Exhale;
4. Nadi Suddhi, Nerve Purification, or Alternate Nostril Breath.


1. Deerga Swasam, or Three-Part Breath

This is the first Pranayama to start practicing.

Deerga Swasam involves breathing sequentially into the three parts of the lungs.

1. the abdomen (lower section of the lungs),
2. the ribcage, and
3. the chest.

On the inhalation, first, send the air to the bottom of the lungs (fill the abdomen); then, fill up the ribcage; and finally, fill up the chest.

On the exhalation, first, relax the chest and let out the air naturally; then, relax the ribcage; and finally, pull in the belly to complete the exhale.

Begin with ease, and gradually, let the breath deepen.

Never breathe too deeply. Always keep the breath comfortably full.

At the top of the inhale, the chest should lift up gently. At the bottom of the exhale, the abdomen should be all the way in.

Start with 5 minutes.

Deerga Swasam can be done as a stand-alone practice.

Add other Pranayama techniques after you feel comfortable with this one.

To build more energy, begin to count the number of seconds on inhale and exhale. Gradually, increase the count one second at a time. Eventually, stop at 12:24 ratio (12 seconds on inhale, 24 seconds on exhale).

Healthy Habit~ To feel more energy,
start your 5-minute
Deerga Swasam practice today.

With questions and for clarification, please Contact Me.

Deerga Swasam Pranayama is the best way to oxygenate and detoxify the cells of the body through the breath.

Oxygen + Less Toxins = More Energy

You may have noticed that the exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation.

According to yogis, we retain more energy on the exhale. So the longer the exhale, the better.

One sure way to lengthen your exhale is to perform Ujjaii Pranayama during your Deerga Swasam practice.

According to researchers, we take 7 times more oxygen with Three-Part Breath than in normal breathing!

2. Kapalabhati, or Skull-Shining Breath

Kapalabhati Pranayama is considered to be one of the Kriyas, or Yogic Shatkarmas, or purification practices.

The name 'Skull-Shining Breath' implies purification of the energy channels in the head.

In addition, Kapalabhati Pranayama cleanses the lungs by stirring up the mucous built-up with forceful exhalations.

And finally, it cleanses the blood by exhaling more Carbon Dioxide than in normal breathing.

Kapalabhati makes a person more alkaline, and therefore, should be practiced with caution and gradually in order to avoid getting light-headed.

More blood flow to the head creates luster in the face and a brighter shine in the eyes, and is responsible for its other nickname: "the yogic cup of coffee".

Healthy Habit~ Do 3 rounds of Kapalabhati
once a day

It could be practiced by itself and is ideal when you need to raise your energy level quickly.

It really works. I've even tried Kapalabhati to avoid feeling sleepy on a long drive!

You may also follow your existing Deerga Swasam practice with Kapalabhati.

It's done by 'rapidly snapping' the belly on the exhale through the nose. This creates a sharp 'huffing' sound.

Inhalation occurs automatically (after each exhalation) by relaxing the abdominal muscles.

It's best to start with 20 to 30 expulsions, one per second. Do 3 rounds.

To begin, take a full breath and exhale completely. Then, take a half-breath into the abdomen, and begin through the nose: 'huff -- huff --- huff...'

Don't forget to snap in the belly on each exhale.

3. Antara/Bahya Kumbhaka,
or Breath Retention on Inhale/Exhale

Any retention, any pause, should be savored and enjoyed fully.

It is as if you've just drank a healing cocktail on the inhale, let it seep into every fiber.

Or as if you've just released a bunch of toxins on the exhale, enjoy the cleansed emptiness.

Only after you're comfortable with both Pranayama practices above, you may begin breath retention.

Warning: Stopping the breath for any length of time without preparation and guidance can be dangerous and detrimental to your health. It's a thin line from healing to disease. Please consult a qualified therapist first.

Antara Kumbhaka is the retention on the inhale. It should be practiced first.

In the beginning, simply allow the retention to happen naturally without any control.

If it doesn't happen naturally (because you don't have enough air), then your body isn't ready yet.

After a few months of Pranayama practice, your lungs should be ready for natural and spontaneous Antara Kumbhaka.

Pause for a second or two as you fill the lungs.

After a few rounds, pause for three or four seconds, savoring the breath. Feel as though the oxygen and Prana are sinking into the tissues.

Increase the retention to no more than 8 seconds, after a few weeks.

The whole practice should feel comfortable and natural.

Bahya Kumbhaka is the retention on the exhale.

Same caution and principles apply.

Begin with holding the air out for one or two seconds, after you've mastered Antara Kumbhaka.

Increase the retention to 16 seconds. This should take over a year. Gradually and comfortably.

Ideally, both Kumbhakas should be practiced together with Bhandas, the energy locks.

4. Nadi Suddhi, Nerve Purification,
or Alternate Nostril Breath

This Pranayama can be practiced concurrently with Deerga Swasam and Kapalabhati.

Healthy Habit~ Establish daily
Nadi Suddhi practice.

Nadi Suddhi is considered to be the most powerful practice for Brain Wave Optimization and the control of mental energy.

The main word to describe this practice is "BALANCE".

Nadi Suddhi balances the left and right nostril air flow, thereby affecting the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Said to be the perfect preparation for a meditation practice, this Pranayama can be performed by itself or preceded by any of the above practices.

Instructions for Basic Nadi Suddhi:

Form a soft fist with the right hand, and stick out the thumb and the last two fingers, making the configuration known as the Vishnu Mudra.

Nadi Suddhi Pranayama

The thumb is used to block the right nostril, and the fingers to block the left.

Bring the hand up to the face, block the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril.

Once the exhale is complete, inhale through the left.

Once the inhale is complete, switch nostrils (i.e. block the left one with the two fingers), and exhale through the right.

The traditional pattern of Nadi Suddhi Pranayama is 'Exhale, inhale, and switch'.

Keep the breath comfortable and smooth.

No need for deep breath in the beginning.

Focus on balancing the left and the right air flow AND on balancing the inhale and the exhale.

No need for Ujjaii breath, or retention of the breath.

Start with 2 minutes. Extend to 10-20 minutes.

Instructions for Advanced Nadi Suddhi:

Once you feel comfortable with 10-20 minutes of Nadi Suddhi, begin to lengthen the breath.

Again, this must be done slowly and gradually.

Count the seconds on the exhale and the inhale. Establish a comfortable rhythm. For example: "Inhale for 6 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds."

Keep that for a few days until it becomes 'too easy'.

Then, increase the duration of the inhale and the exhale by one or two seconds. For example: "Inhale for 7 seconds, exhale for 10 seconds."

Keep that for a few days till it becomes 'too easy'.

You get the idea?

Continue gradually until you reach 12 seconds on the inhale. At that point, there is no need to lengthen your inhale anymore.

Now, work on the exhale only.

The goal is to achieve the 1:2 ratio (inhale for 12 seconds, exhale for 24 seconds).

Practice until you can sustain that rhythm for 10 minutes comfortably.

Then, begin Antara Kumbhaka (follow instructions above).

Second by second, build gradually.

Practice until the retention is 12 seconds long (1:1:2 ratio).

You may also incorporate the use of Bandhas, the yogic energy locks, to retain more energy.

Now, you may start practicing Bahya Kumbhaka (follow instructions above).

Start with one or two seconds of holding the air out.

Build up to 48 seconds!

That's not a typo. But this should take many years.

This practice may, and should, take a lifetime. Go for the process, not the result!

At this point, you may extend Antara Kumbhaka to 24 seconds.

The final ratio is 1:2:2:4.

inhale for 12 -- hold for 24 -- exhale for 24 -- hold for 48

Some yoga schools recommend the same ratio with 10, 20, 20, 40 seconds respectively. That's OK, too, as long as you get there gradually and over many years.

Bandhas, energy locks, should be practiced during Bahya Kumbhaka.

At this point, you should be having Pranayama for dinner, and feel fully satisfied and energized.

In fact, you may easily turn into a 'breatharian' and sustain your body solely on the breath.


~ Surya

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are based upon the opinions, research, and experiences of Surya (Slava Kolpakov), unless otherwise noted. The information on this website is not intended to treat, prescribe, diagnose, or replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or yoga therapist and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.