Pranayama for Beginners | The Basics of Yoga Breathing Techniques

How to Do Yoga Pranayama

Previously, guest author, Richard wrote about Om Mantra Chanting and The Awakening of Kundalini and Energy Centers and today he shares with us another fantastic article on yoga.  In today’s post Richard instructs us on the the basics of pranayama, which is the science of yogic breathing techniques, and teaches us how to do both basic and advanced pranayama.  Richard is a meditation teacher and author, and you will find more information on the courses he offers on his website

If you would like to be a guest author on Mastery of Meditation and Yoga, please email me at

Pranayama Beats Starbucks


Richard Crown

Yoga Pranayama Floating


Through practicing Pranayama, it’s possible for your body to become so light that it floats effortlessly instead of being bound by gravity.

Pranayama clears, cleanses and opens your energy system –your chakras and nadhis. You get a huge lift instantly that leaves your mind crystal clear and your body light and energized.

Prana means life force energy or chi. Yama means restraint or control. So Pranayama means the control of life force energy.

You achieve control of the life force energy in your body through controlling your breath.

When you breathe in, you inhale prana along with the air. When you retain your breath, you drive the prana deep into your system. When you exhale, you expel the releasing negative energies.

The correct breathing ratio is 1:4:2. This means that if you breathe in for 1 second, you must hold your breath for 4 seconds and then exhale for 2 seconds.

How to Do Pranayama: 

There are three levels of Pranayama: Adama, Mahdyama and Puttama.

 In Adama, the first level, the goal is to become able to:

  1. Peraka (inhale) for 12 seconds
  2. Khumbaka (hold) for 48 seconds
  3. Rechaka (exhale) for 24 seconds

80 repetitions is the recommended number for optimum results. Dedicated practitioners practice 4 times daily at 6 hour intervals. Practicing only twice a day brings big changes fast.

Sneaking in a few reps any time you need a lift works great too. It doesn’t take many.

48 seconds is a long time to hold your breath. You might be more comfortable starting off small and working up gradually. Please remember to be kind to yourself. It’s never good to overstrain. A comfortable place to begin may be:

  1. Peraka 4 seconds
  2. Khumbaka 16 seconds
  3. Rechaka 8 seconds

You can choose do any length of breath you want. Just remember that the ratio must always be Peraka 1: Khumbaka 4: Rechaka 2.

Choose your beginning point by observing your body. If you can do repetitions one after the other, without strain, you’re OK.

Pranayama Cautions:

If you start feeling starved for breath, you may want to shorten the time.

Please, do not attempt Pranayama if you have high blood pressure, a heart condition, diabetes, menstruation or are pregnant. Consult your health care practitioner if you have any doubts.

Advanced Pranayama:

In the beginning, it’s good to breathe normally through both nostrils. Later, when you become accomplished in the basics, you can add other advanced techniques like alternate nostril breathing, breathing into your chakras and mentally chanting Om to increase power exponentially.

But in the beginning, get the basics of counting and comfortable breath retention down so that you can do Pranayama effortlessly and automatically, without strain or thought, before attempting to go on. This may require several weeks, or months, of practice.

Pranayama Posture:

As for posture, keep your spine comfortably erect. You can sit on a chair with both feet flat on the floor, or in a meditative posture like the full or half lotus.

Please use deep abdominal breathing. When you breathe in your tummy goes out. When you breathe out, your tummy goes in.

Pranayama is a wonderfully simple way to boost your energy levels, clear your mind and grow your energy system. 

How to Meditate

  Richard Crown teaches meditation via Skype at

  You can download his latest book at by clicking the book cover above.

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11 replies
  1. Christian
    Christian says:

    I wonder why pranayama would be dangerous for menstruating and pregnant women. I have taught advanced pranayama to a lot of people and never keept such precautions. What would happen and where does this information come from ? Why would it be dangerous for pregnant women to float effortlessly instead of being bound by gravity ?


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