Viloma Pranayama


  • Reverse or opposite breath

Viloma pranayama is the practice of staggering the breath in stages during either the inhalation or the exhalation, or both. The purpose is to gain control over respiration and is a recommended method to extend the breath.


is a very approachable practice and is suitable for many students. Any seated posture that keeps the spine upright and the pelvis in a neutral position is acceptable. Vajrasana (see below) is a posture that will achieve an upright position with a little refinement or adjustment for most people.

If the student is not able to sit easily as above, then a few small changes can make a big difference. Place a block or blocks so the student straddles them with the legs either side. If the ankles are tight, roll up a soft blanket and place it under the tops of the ankles, this will reduce the pressure there. 


Muktasana is a variation on siddhasana where the heel of one foot is placed at the perineum, with the other heel resting in front on the floor. Muktasana, meaning liberation posture, is perfect for pranayama and meditation. It is slightly more accessible than siddhasana, while retaining the benefits. If the hips are open the knees will readily fall out below the pelvis, ensuring the pelvis sits in a neutral position. This will allow the lumbar spine to retain its natural lordotic curve, making it easier to remain upright throughout. If needed, sit the tailbone on a cushion and this will tip the pelvis forward. It may then be necessary to support the knees if the thighs are tight.    

Muktasana hi res lower half


Pranayama Viloma picture 1

Interrupting the inhalation

  • Once comfortable spend a few moments observing the breath
  • Begin to practice sama vritti (equal breath) starting with 3 in and 3 out
  • Now begin the practice with an inhale and adding a pause before inhaling again
  • Continue this method until the lungs are full
  • Maintain a firm abdomen throughout this phase
  • Once the lungs are full take a long smooth exhalation until the lungs are empty
  • Repeat for a few minutes
  • Be careful to not force the breath throughout the practice


Pranayama Viloma picture 2

Interrupting the exhalation

  • Now reverse the practice by taking a long smooth inhale and staggering the exhalation with the same method as practice 1.


Pranayama Viloma picture 3

Interrupting the inhalation and the exhalation

  • Now combine the practices of stage 1. and 2. with staggered inhalations and exhalations

The pauses between the breaths will vary according to the individual but will usually be around four or five.

Practice adding more pauses to gain more control. Shorter sharper breaths cause more muscular action and are said to aid kapalabhati.  

Martin Thompson.


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