Stages of breathing

In Pranayama, when you control your breath, you influence your life energy flow. Breathing is so important that Buddhist monks count their lives not in the number of years, but in the number of breaths they take. By slowing down the breathing, it is believed you extend your life because the same number of breaths will take you more time when they are longer.

In Pranayama as a technique, we can distinguish four stages of breathing:

  • Inhale (pooraka)
  • Exhale (rechaka)
  • Pause after the inhale (abhyantara kumbhaka)
  • Pause after the exhale (bahya kumbhaka) 

You can observe all four stages when you simply watch your breath mindfully – you will notice that inhales and exhales do not happen immediately one after another. There is a little pause between them (kumbhaka) which plays a vital role in mindful awareness.

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