Try Viloma Breathing to Increase Lung Capacity

viloma pranayama
Thanks to jasonyoga.com for the image.

Viloma breathing is three-part breathing. As you breathe, you pause at the one-third level, two-thirds level, and complete level. Because you can pause either on the inhale or the exhale, this style of breathing relates to the Kumbhaka (breath retention) breathing style.

When you practice Viloma breathing on your inhale, that relates to Antara Kumbhaka. Practicing on the exhale makes this breathing style similar to Bayha Kumbhaka. Because these breathing styles are similar, their health benefits are also similar.

In “Six Different Views on Breathing in Yoga,” Swami Karunananda, a senior Integral Yoga teacher, says,

“Three-part deep breathing is the foundation of all the yogic breathing techniques. Studies have shown that you can take in and give out seven times as much air—that means seven times as much oxygen, seven times as much prana—in a three-part deep breath than in a shallow breath.”

Benefits of Viloma

This increased amount of oxygen has several health benefits including:

  • increased relaxation,
  • decreased stress,
  • improved respiratory health,
  • elimination of toxins,
  • body purification,
  • increased physical and mental energy,
  • improved concentration, and
  • increased focus and stillness in the mind.

Viloma

Begin in a comfortable position. Some people recommend that those new to breath work begin on their backs. By breathing on your back, you don’t have the challenge of keeping your spine straight and can more easily focus on breathing. Also, when you’re on your back, you can feel if air is flowing into the back part of your lungs (like it should be).

However, if you already know that you’re breathing into the back part of your body, you may want to start in a comfortable seated position. By being on your back, you limit the amount of air that can come into the back of the lungs because this position limits the ability of the rib cage to expand further in this direction.

Viloma-Antara Kumbhaka

  1. Come to your beginning position. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart.
  2. Take several deep breaths to warm up. At the end of your last warm up breath, exhale completely.
  3. Think of your torso as a cylindrical container. As you inhale, think of filling the lower abdomen, the bottom third of your cylinder. When it is full, pause for two or three seconds.
  4. Inhale into the mid-section of your torso. When it is full, pause for two or three seconds.
  5. Inhale into your chest. When it is full, pause for two or three seconds.
  6. Let your breath out in a slow exhale. Make sure to take your time. It should take six to nine seconds to exhale fully.
  7. Continue to breathe this way for several minutes. The goal is to be able to breathe this way for ten minutes.

Viloma-Bayha Kumbhaka

  1. Come to your beginning position. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart.
  2. Take several deep breaths to warm up. At the end of your last warm up breath, exhale completely.
  3. Think of your torso as a cylindrical container. Inhale and fill your cylinder to capacity. Pause at the top for a few seconds.
  4. As you exhale, empty the top third of your cylinder. This may feel like you’re emptying your chest. Pause for two or three seconds.
  5. Exhale the mid-section of your torso. Pause for two or three seconds.
  6. Completely exhale the rest of your air. Pause for two or three seconds.
  7. Continue to breathe this way for several minutes. The goal is to be able to breathe this way for ten minutes.

Thank you for reading this article. If you like the information on this site, please think of supporting it. With your support, I can gather and present more information about yoga and its beneficial practices.

For more information about how to work Viloma pranayama into your day, I recommend “Pranayama Ninja” by Andrea Ferretti at jasonyoga.com. I borrowed my photo from this article.

Do you have any other tips for practicing Viloma? Please let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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