How To Do Pranayama – A Simple Pranayama Technique

Pranayama is one of the usual suggestions that I give to patients, for a variety of health conditions. But it is often seen that the people do not get time to go to a Yoga teacher and learn the technique (though it is highly recommended). That gives way for a simplified version of Pranayama. But please remember, it is only a second choice to the Pranayama learnt from a Yoga master.


Why is there a need to simplify Pranayama –
The regular Pranayama mentioned in Yogas is for totally healthy people.

It has yoga prerequisites namely –Yama, Niyama and Asana. It means that, the regular Pranayama would require one to follow dietary & mind restrictions and to have proper training in the Asanas. As Swamy Vivekananda used to say, a fit body is prerequisite of a fit mind.

Inhaling and exhaling through a single nostril, alternatively is quite confusing for the beginners.
If strained excessively while doing Pranayama, it may cause giddiness and difficulty in breathing.

How to do Pranayama?

Pranayama Time  – Morning, on empty stomach or 15 minutes after tea / coffee. Preferably after bath.  Pranayama is a technique to fill the mind & body with fresh air and energy. So, morning is the right time for it. After bath, we feel fresh. So it adds to the benefits of Pranayama. It will be easier for the mind to get cleansed with the fresh Prana (breath).

Pranayama Place: The place should be spacious, with sufficient air and light. Better to keep the windows open. If it is done in a closed room, it often causes giddiness. So fresh air is very necessary.   The place should be noise free.

Pranayama Posture – Sit on a mat on the floor, with your legs crossed. Spine (back) should be erect & straight. Head should be straight. Face should look forward. For those with knee problems, and who can’t sit on the floor, a chair can be used.

Eyes – Eyelids closed with eyes pointing towards the tip of the nose. You need to close the eyelids with eyes pointing to nose tip. This way, when you close the eyes, your eyes will automatically concentrate on center point of two eye brows.

Pranayama Mindset – Very relaxed. Don’t hurry . No extra thoughts. If possible, remember your favorite Deity. If you cannot relax your mind, or if you are in a hurry, it is better to skip the Pranayama session for that day, rather than doing it halfheartedly.

Simple Pranayama Technique

Sit quietly for one minute. Breathe deeply, breathe easily. During this one minute, think that you are going to receive energy to the body and mind to become healthier, to become robust & strong. Think that you are going to throw out all the impurities of mind and the body through exhaling breath and think that you are going to have fresh and pure energy by inhaling the fresh Prana – the breath fully filled with life, strength, positivism and energy.

Once the eyes are closed and are pointing to nose, back erect, mind relaxed, start the Pranayama. It has three phases.

Slow Inhale – Take a deep breath (as deep as possible), very slowly and steadily, without hurrying. The mind should think that you are taking the energy of God into your body.

Hold – Hold the breath for as long as you stay comfortable. During this time, think that the Prana (energetic breath) that you have taken in is cleansing the whole body from tip of the brain to tip of leg. Imagine as though the air is moving all over the body and cleansing all the organs and mind.

Slower Exhale – Exhale slowly. Exhaling period should be longer than inhaling period. While exhaling, think that all the impurities of your body and mind that were cleansed are now let out of the body.

Repeat the same steps from 1 to 3 for three to ten times, based on your convenience.

After Pranayama, you need to sit in the same place, for at least five minutes. During which time, prayer can be done.

Duration for Pranayama

What should be the duration of this simplified Pranayama?

Not more than two minutes.

Is there a rule that it should be done daily?

It is better to do it daily. It is okay, if it is missed for a few days, or when the mind is too occupied, or when you are too busy.

Side effects

Are there any side effects? Who should not do this?

If one feels giddiness or breathing difficulty or sweating or temporary feeling of darkness then it has to be discontinued. Rush to a place with plenty of air, lie down and breathe easy. Do not try to do it ever again.

It is not suitable for pregnant woman or children below 12 years of age.

It is not suitable for people with respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic cough.

It is not suitable for people with severe illnesses such as heart conditions, cancer etc.

It is highly recommended to learn Pranayama from a qualified Yoga teacher than to follow this method.


What are the benefits of Pranayama?

Apart from being the best among the stress relieving techniques, Pranayama has numerous health benefits. Click  read more about benefits of Pranayama along with special details.

Ideal Pranayama Duration

How long should one do Pranayama everyday?
Dr JV Hebbar 

My answer might not be in line with popular belief. I am trying to answer this from an Ayurvedic perspective.
Ayurvedic textbooks – the Samhitas, Sangrahas etc. did not include Pranayama as part of the healthy daily routine. This does not mean that the ancient Ayurvedic Acharyas were against Pranayama. It simply means that they clearly understood that Ayurveda and Yoga are two different sciences. Though, Pranayama is mentioned in many textbooks to treat many diseases (a topic for another day).

Read: Yoga Darshana: Introduction, History, Definition, Shat Karma, Benefits

The primary purpose of Pranayama, which is the part of Yoga Darshana, is to lead a spiritual path and achieve salvation. At least in the initial formative years of Yogashastra, it was not designed to treat disease.

The primary purposes of Ayurveda are two.
Swasthasya swasthya rakshanam – to maintain health of the healthy
Aturasya vikara prashamanam – to treat the disease in patients.

So, at least in the earlier centuries, it is safe to assume that Ayurveda was more health oriented than Yoga Shastra and Yoga was more spiritual oriented than Ayurveda Shastra.
Read: Ashtanga Yoga – Eight Branches Of Yoga – Easy Ayurveda

Over a period of time, the softer version of spirituality which is required for all of us began to be served by the modern day Yoga teachers.
Now, Yoga is used for both therapeutic and spiritual purposes.
Read: Health Benefits Of Yoga: Mind And Body

So, with this background, let me try to answer the question – how long should you be doing Pranayama?

1. If you are on a spiritual path, follow the instructions given by your Yoga Acharya do Pranayama as per his / her instructions.

2. If you are healthy or if you have a disease and if you are consulting a Yoga Acharya for the treatment of that, and if Pranayama is in the treatment plan, then please follow the pranayama protocol given by the Acharya. Do the pranayama for the specified time period for specified months and then follow up. This way, keep in touch with the Acharya and adjust your pranayama schedule accordingly.
Your pranayam types and schedules advised during a disease condition may vary from the advice given when you are cured of those diseases.
Your pranayama schedule may vary based on season, your age, immunity, concentration levels etc.

3. If you are a Pranayama rookie, like the most of us and are trying to include simple Anulom Vilom Pranayama or Pooraka Kumbhaka Rechaka type of pranayama for its mental and physical health benefits such as improved concentration, memory, focus in life, good immunity etc., and if you are not doing pranayama as a serious stage of your spiritual journey, then my personal advice is  to do it only for 2 – 5 minutes.

All you are trying to achieve is good concentration. You will be able to stabilize the mind and body within 5 minutes. Then follow it up with Om chanting or meditation or any religious practice.
Imagine a pencil. In those 2 – 5 minutes, you sharpened your pencil with the help of Pranayama and you are trying to draw a beautiful picture with the help of that pencil by your spiritual / religious practices.

This is not my fantasized advice.
The Brahmins and whoever are interested in following a pious, religious path are introduced to the path of Brahmacharya through Brahmopadesha (also called Upanayana), usually at the age between 7 – 12 years.
In that ceremony, their daily spiritual activity, called Sandhyavandana is taught. The advice of Pranayama is done in the first part of Sandhyavandana. After Pranayama, the person is expected to chant Gayatri Mantra, Ashtakshari Mantra etc.
The Pranayama advised is usually for 3 rounds of Pooraka-Kumbhaka-rechaka (right to left, left to right). Which comes to around 2-5 minutes. 
So, the pencil is sharpened with pranayama and then the beautiful picture is drawn with it.
Bring your mind to focus with pranayama and then do the spiritual practice.
Even while doing Pooja of different Hindu Gods, the same advice is given of doing 3 rounds of Pranayama and then starting the Pooja.
It all points to the advice of doing Pranayama only for a few minutes once or twice a day on an empty stomach.  
Sufferings And Health Of Spiritual People – Ayurvedic Analysis

43 comments on “How To Do Pranayama – A Simple Pranayama Technique

  • ali

    18/06/2011 - 8:55 am

    breath should be taken from mouth or nose….??

    Reply to comment
  • Suryakrishnamurthi

    18/01/2012 - 4:13 pm

    Great! I am fortunate to get the ebook and also glance the guidancve for pranayama. Thank God Such generous and holy minds are there to give a receipie for holystic living and realisig what is living

    Reply to comment
  • Samir Sanghani

    01/11/2012 - 9:27 am

    Great job! Keep up! Thanks for all the inputs.

    Reply to comment
  • Harish

    02/12/2012 - 4:38 pm

    How convenient it is when explained in simple terms like this!
    I have picked up Pranayama books but could not read entirely because generally they are long and typically include material around and other than pranayama as well. I haven’t come across a pranayama-booklet — just intended to share pranayama technique in simple terms. This one was very useful. Thanks.

    Reply to comment
  • Ankush

    13/06/2013 - 10:03 am

    Thanks for such a nice information….

    Reply to comment
  • Midhun Nair

    20/10/2013 - 11:53 am

    What should be posture of hands during pranayama?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      24/10/2013 - 12:15 pm

      Hi Midhun Nair,
      Fingers and palm stretched. Tip of thumb and finger and tip of index finger touching with each other.
      Indicating lamp – thinking that the Pranayama exercise is enlightening me, and cleansing away my inner darkness.
      Indicating zeroness – that I am zero in front of my God. I surrender completely at His Holy Feet.

      Reply to comment
  • bhuvaneswari.

    24/10/2013 - 4:58 pm

    is meditation and pranayama are same. can u show any video clipping how to do pranayama.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      03/11/2013 - 8:39 pm

      Hi, Meditation means sitting silently and concentrating on God / any object such as A lamp, or a concept like – self awareness. Rather than relying on any video, I suggest you to join a simple 1 – 2 week Yoga class. You will get a clear idea about meditation and Pranayama.

      Reply to comment
  • Gaurav

    29/10/2013 - 10:26 am

    This article has some very very very very important points that are worth a very very very close look by everyone doing or considering starting Pranayama.

    (Unfortunately all the ‘businesses’ that teach Pranayama today conveniently omit communicating these critical points to the people.)

    Particularly these two:

    “The regular Pranayama mentioned in Yogas is for totally healthy people.”

    –> By this criteria alone, a vast majority of the people who practice Pranayama regularly and that too for long durations (minutes/hours) today should not be doing so if they really want to follow the authentic original advice in the Yogas.

    “It has yoga prerequisites namely –Yama, Niyama and Asana. It means, the regular Pranayama would require one to follow dietary & mind restrictions and to have proper training in the Asanas. As Swamy Vivekananda used to say, a fit body is prerequisite of a fit mind.”

    –> Indeed, a fit body (Asana) and fit mind (Yama/Niyama) are *both* mandatory prerequisites for the practice of Pranayama.
    Even if some of us pass the test of fit body, the number of people who pass the test of ‘fit mind’ in this age of Kaliyuga can be counted on the fingers.
    That is why, for most of us who (a) just do a few things right in diet, (b) have a mostly unhealthy lifestyle and/or (c) whose mental strength and control/etc are weak, should not be doing (or suddenly jumping into) regular Pranayama. [And all of these are even by today’s very low standards, so what to talk about the much higher standards/averages of the earlier Yugas].
    Additionally, for those who happen not to be spiritually focused, it is very doubtful if they qualify, because fitness/strength of mind comes from purity of the mind and purity of the mind can only come to those with spiritual inclinations, almost by definition. Swami Vivekanandaji was a shining example of such purity of mind and the resulting fearlessness and strength of character.

    So, thank you Dr Hebbar for this most thoughtfully written article. This is true service to society in the form of communicating both correct and more importantly, complete knowledge.

    In all my internet browsing, particularly on the ‘popular Pranayama portals’, I don’t think I have ever seen a mention of these critical Pranayama pre-requisites, let alone one that is so clear, concise and unambiguous that it leaves no room for misinterpretation to the sincere seeker. In a world flooded with inaccurate and incomplete information (the latter is called ‘the sin of omission’), these “little details” make all the difference.

    Every article on this website has moral integrity of intent and content. And this one, if I may say so, is the diamond of them all, in my limited view.

    Reply to comment
  • suresha

    04/06/2014 - 12:40 pm

    Hats off to you sir.Whereas most of the modern hospitals concentrate on curing the disease,you are doing wonderful work by explaining ayurveda in simple terms which can be understood by common man.God bless you.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      04/06/2014 - 8:35 pm

      Thanks for the encouraging words.

      Reply to comment

    23/08/2014 - 1:36 pm

    Its really a nice article written with simplicity, it should help people TO follOW PRANAYAMA.

    Reply to comment
  • archanawriter

    26/10/2014 - 6:18 pm


    I heard that pranayama helps strengthening lungs and bring relief in Asthma patients, but I read the opposite in this article. Can you suggest some pranayama exercises for Asthma patients.


    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      28/10/2014 - 7:03 pm

      Hi, for asthma patients, if at all they wish to use Pranayama as a technique to improve lung strength, they will have to consult a Yoga expert and learn it. It may help in a few. Self learning may not be fruitful for them.

      Reply to comment
  • Tammy Shahani

    02/01/2015 - 1:20 am

    Excellent explanation of times, method and about Pranayama.I would like to read more about Dr Hebbar and hope he visits Goa for consultations

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      02/01/2015 - 9:31 pm

      Thanks. But I do not visit any place for consultation. Sorry about that.

      Reply to comment
      • Sharon

        03/01/2015 - 10:59 pm

        Why shouldn’t cancer patient do this exercise? I would think this would be good for cancer patients especially since it is a cleansing exercise.

        Reply to comment
        • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

          04/02/2015 - 10:41 pm

          Hi, cancer patient, in early stages of cancer can do Pranayama. No problem. But it is better to learn it under a Yoga expert.

          Reply to comment
  • huzefa

    08/01/2015 - 9:32 am

    Thanks a lot for explaining in so simple terms, it will help a lot, thanks once agail

    Reply to comment
  • sujaya

    11/02/2015 - 8:06 pm

    Thanks for the detailed explanation of pranayama…Its very useful..!!

    Reply to comment
  • Emmett Walsh

    13/02/2015 - 12:57 am

    I have studied Ayurveda in Kerala under a Long practicing Vaidyagrama BAMS Dr and was warned about doing pranayama and meditation under guidance . Dr Hebbar is correct .
    I am from Ireland and the West is full of ” experts” in Meditation and Breathing. Many think themselves the “bees knees” .
    Glad to see so many messages of support for Dr Hebbar. Keep up the good work .
    Emmett Walsh
    Medical Herbalist

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      15/02/2015 - 2:04 pm

      Thank you! Emmett Walsh 🙂

      Reply to comment
  • maruthi

    08/05/2015 - 5:43 pm

    sir how the pranama helpfull in the diperssion mode

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      08/07/2015 - 9:46 pm

      1. It brings about mental discipline.
      2. It helps to give a refreshing view-point to an old sad happening.
      3. It helps to pause the mind from grieving.
      4. It helps you concentrate on sweeter things that life surely offers.

      Reply to comment
  • Ashish sah

    25/12/2015 - 11:22 am

    Sir at first i want to thanks you for giving a free ebook $my question is doing pranayam after exercize$bath helpful or before

    Reply to comment
    • Dr Malini Bhat

      05/01/2016 - 6:33 pm

      Dear sir, It is recommended to do pranayama early in the morning, one to two hours before sunrise when oxygen content is maximum in the air. Also, early morning body is fresh and mind is clear from any thought processes.
      An empty stomach is ideal for pranayama. Early morning, food consumed during previous day is digested. It is recommended that you should clear your bowels before starting asanas or pranayama.

      Reply to comment
  • SRRS

    21/07/2016 - 6:23 am

    Of late, some yoga experts advise inhaling through nostrils and exhaling through mouth.
    Is this okay and is this based on any new research – please advise.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      21/07/2016 - 5:15 pm

      In the traditional Pranayama technique, inhaling through nose and exhaling through mouth is a valid technique. But vice versa is contra indicated.

      Reply to comment
  • Leela

    31/08/2016 - 2:13 pm

    sir I’ve learnt yoga in yoga mandiram chennan. I practice. I’ve resigned my job and wish to practice yoga and also teach to my friends. Is it safe to teach. Any precautions to be taken.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      09/09/2016 - 7:13 pm

      You need to be an expert in Yoga to do that. If you are asking my advice, I feel you still have to develop confidence as a Yoga teacher and you have to learn a lot before starting Yoga class. All the best with your learning.

      Reply to comment
  • Pratibha Gramann Ph.D. Educator and Consultant for Psychophysiological Therapy

    01/09/2016 - 3:29 am

    As a teacher of Pranayama, beginning to depth, for those with spiritual intent and desire to enhance strength and wellness, I am happy Dr Hebbar is including this topic. I learned it from a great yoga meditation master. True long term meditation has no words to express the great spiritual enhancement of pranayama for maintaining the state of presence. Pratibha Gramann, Ph.D. bay area, CA

    Reply to comment
  • Aubretia Amaranth

    12/09/2016 - 12:40 pm

    I tend to suffer from migraine, strongly correlated to food intake. Missing breakfast and eating spicy food are known triggers, but there are others. I had a headache when I first learnt Sudarshankriya, and it just went away! I didn’t get this headache for the next several months. However, I later heard that people of pitta prakriti should not do Sudarshankriya. Is this right? I am doing simple pranayam as described by you in this article since last several months (saw your article just now). Can a person with pitta prakriti and vata dosha do pranayam as described in this article?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      13/09/2016 - 10:35 pm

      Hi, if you did Sudarshan Kriya and if you found benefit with it, you should not worry about Prakruti and should continue it. There is no strong rule that Sudarshan kriya is banned for Pitta prakruti persons.
      If after doing any type of Pranayama, if body heat increases, then it should be followed by seetkari pranayam to cool the body down.

      Reply to comment
  • Omkar

    07/05/2017 - 11:32 am

    Great article Sir ..Hats off to you

    Reply to comment
  • Jaya

    23/09/2022 - 12:53 pm

    Sir Simple Anulom vilom shud start from Right Nostril or Left Nostril ? Because Some told left or Some told right nostril. Which one is correct ?

    Reply to comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Easy Ayurveda Video Classes

Buy Online Video Courses

Buy Easy Ayurveda Books