Viloma Pranayama – 18 Wonderful Benefits and Contraindications

Viloma-Pranayama

What is Viloma Pranayama

Viloma means “against the natural course” in Sanskrit, because in this pranayama you have to hold your breath for two seconds during each breathing cycle.

‘Vi’ denotes disjunction or negation, “Loma” means hair.

Viloma means anti-hair or against the natural order of things.

In normal breathing, inhalation or exhalation is a continuous process but in viloma pranayama inhalation or exhalation is not a continuous process, either one stage of the respiration, inhalation or exhalation is interrupted by several pauses.

For instance, if one complete inhalation were to take fifteen seconds, then in viloma it would be interrupted every two or three seconds, thus bringing the length of the inbreath to twenty-five or thirty seconds.

Similarly, with interrupted exhalation the out-breath is lengthened from twenty-five to thirty seconds.

Each stage is more subtle than the preceding one, and requires a greater level of awareness.

This pranayama is practiced in three stages and each stage can take 3–4 weeks to perfect.

This pranayama may be compared to climbing up or down a tall ladder, with a pause at each step.

See that there is no unconscious out or in breath during the pauses of interrupted inhalation or exhalation.

Benefits of Viloma Pranayama

  1. This pranayama makes the body light.
  2. Viloma Pranayama Regulates the blood pressure
  3. This pranayama helps to cool down after an active yoga class
  4. Helps in Relieving the symptoms of cold and coughs
  5. This Viloma Pranayama is the best to relieve the symptoms of the tonsillitis
  6. Helps treat menorrhagia and metrorrhagia
  7. Reduces mood swings and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) related headaches
  8. Helps treat the symptoms of menopause
  9. Improves control of your breath and movement of air within your body
  10. This pranayama is the most helpful in erasing the negative thinking pattern.
  11. Relieves anxiety
  12. Enhances the lung capacity and oxygenation throughout the body.
  13. Viloma Pranayama helps in overcoming the tough negative emotions such as forgetfulness, agitation, anger and frustration
  14. Reduces eye strain and headaches
  15. The beautiful benefits of this pranayama are efficient decision making ability, focus, patience, concentration, , Increased inventiveness
  16. Reduces mood swings and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) related headaches
  17. Effectively balances the three doshas of the body – Vata, Kapha and Pitta
  18. Increases the serenity to the mind

What research says about the benefits of Viloma Pranayama?

Here are the results from the evidence of A Scientific review Literature search of a total of 1400 references. These references include the case studies and case series in English, Experimental papers.

The inference from these studies indicate the positive health benefits and effects of yogic breathing.

This proved that Pranayama / yogic breathing could be considered safe, when practiced under guidance of a trained teacher.

How to do Viloma Pranayama

Here are the step wise instructions on How to do Viloma Pranayama

The Primary Instructions

  • Arrange the foam and wooden blocks in a similar way like in Ujjayi Pranayama.
  • Now Follow the steps for Savasana.
  • Then practice a few cycles of Ujjayi Pranayama.
  • This initial exercise will open your chest as well as stimulate your intercostal muscles.

Step 1

This Stage is an introduction to interrupted in-breathing in a lying position.

It is suitable for beginners and in even when suffering from fatigue, weakness, strain or low blood pressure.

  • Lie quietly for a few minutes as in ujjayi, preferably using planks or cushions
  • Now start with interrupted inhalation, as follows. Inhale for two or three seconds, pause, and hold the breath for two or three seconds and do this again.
  • To pause, the diaphragm is lightly immobilised.
  • When you breathe in again, do not let the diaphragm loose after each pause.
  • Continue in this way until the lungs are completely full, which may involve four or five pauses.
  • No strain should be felt throughout the practice.

Step 2

  • Your breathing should now fade away effortlessly at each pause and resume equally easily.
  • Follow the instructions for Stage I, with your exhalations longer than your pauses.
  • Practice 15-20 cycles over 7-10 minutes.
  • Rest in Savasana.

Step 3

  • Do a few cycles of Steps I and 2.
  • Focus on the silence of the pauses.
  • Experience a feeling of serenity.

Instructions to come out of the pose

  • Practice a cycle of Ujjayi Pranayama.
  • Then follow the coming out of the pose sequence for Savasana

BKS Iyengar teaches Viloma Pranayama as a technique in nine stages

Stage 1

This Stage is an introduction to interrupted in-breathing (puraka) in a lying position.

It is suitable for beginners and invalids, or when suffering from fatigue, weakness, strain or low blood pressure.

Here is the Technique

  • Lie quietly for a few minutes as in Ujjayi, preferably using planks or cushions Follow the techniques of ujjayi and exhale whatever breath is in the lungs.
  • Now start with interrupted inhalation, as follows. Inhale for two or three seconds, pause, and hold the breath for two or three seconds and do this again.
  • To pause, the diaphragm is lightly immobilised.
  • When you breathe in again, do not let the diaphragm loose after each pause.
  • Continue in this way until the lungs are completely full, which may involve four or five pauses.
  • No strain should be felt throughout the practice.
  • Now exhale slowly and deeply, as in ujjayi, Stage 2, gradually releasing the grip of the diaphragm.
  • This completes one cycle of viloma, Stage 1 .
  • Repeat them for seven to ten minutes, or for as long as you do not feel fatigue; breathe normally two or three times, then rest in Savasana

Stage 2

This Stage 2 technique is most suitable for beginners, weak persons and invalids, and for the ones who are suffering from fatigue, strain, high blood pressure or a heart complaint

This is an introduction to interrupted out-breath (rechaka) when lying down.

Here is the Technique

  • Lie quietly for a few minutes as in Ujjayi Stage 1, then follow the techniques given in Paras 2, 3 and 4 of ujjayi’ Stage 2. Exhale whatever breath is in the lungs.
  • Take a long deep breath without any pause, as in ujjayi, filling the lungs
    completely, but do not over-strain.
  • Exhale for two or three seconds, pause, hold the breath for two or three seconds and repeal.
  • Continue in this way until the lungs feel completely emptied, which may involve four or five pauses. Gradually release the grip on the abdomen.
  • This completes one cycle of viloma Stage 2 . Repeat them for seven to ten minutes or for as long as fatigue is not felt. Inhale, then do savasana

Effects of Stage 2

This practice brings a feeling of ease and lightness to the body.

Stage 3

This stage is a combination of Stages 1 and 2 in a lying down position.

Technique of Stage 3

  • Lie quietly for a few minutes as in Ujjayi Stage 1, then follow the techniques given in Ujjayi Stage 2, and exhale
  • Now start interrupted inhalation as described above.
  • Hold the breath for a second or two.

Contraindications and Cautions

  • Do not practice if you have a severe backache, constipation, or diarrhea.
  • If you feel out of breath or fatigued, finish the cycle you are on, take a few normal breaths, then resume your practice.
  • Swallow your saliva only after a complete exhalation.
  • Always stop before you reach your limit.
  • Beginners should not practice more than 6 cycles.
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