Pranayamas are breathing exercises with the aim of controlling the energy - prana - that permeates all things, creates a healthy body, quiets the mind and brings balance to the emotions.

We've all heard someone say: "Take a deep breath!" at times of emotional distress.

"As long as the breath (prana) is irregular, the mind will remain unstable; when the breath calms down, the mind will remain still, and the yogi will achieve stability. Therefore, the breath must be controlled." Hatha Yoga Pradipika II. 2.

Inhalation is what connects us to the external world, exhalation is the breath that teaches us detachment, letting go.

We breathe automatically, without dwelling on the parts of our respiratory muscles that we use. The pranayamas help us to become aware of and learn how to conduct the prana.

Each exercise has a very specific function, objectives, and effects.

In all the exercises it is important to keep the spine aligned and to use the nostrils when inhaling and exhaling.

Example of breathing to calm the mind and minimise stress - Dirga:

  1. a) Sit or lie down in a comfortable position,
  2. b) Bring your left hand to your stomach and your right hand to your chest,
  3. c) Inhale through your nose towards your abdomen, moving towards your ribs and up to your upper chest.
  4. d) Exhale from the upper chest, ribs, and abdomen,
  5. e) Repeat this pattern of breathing in and out for 3 to 5 minutes.


By Carla Gonçalves, Sports Science graduate from the Faculty of Human Motricity, Yoga trainer and founder of the Beyoga School ( Instagram:


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