Yoga Philosophy

Pranayama: How to cultivate Ahimsa with your breath

July 13, 2021

Today I’ll discuss how to integrate Ahimsa into your pranayama practice (breathing exercises).

As you know, a complete yoga routine includes the practices of asana, pranayama, and meditation.

Ahimsa, which literally means “non-violence”, is intuitive to apply to our asana practice. For example, you must avoid forcing the body into a position and hurting yourself.

But how do you apply it to your pranayama practice?

Many times, pranayama involves retaining your breath, either on the inhale or the exhale.

Let’s be honest…
Do you ever try to hold your breath beyond your limits?

If you answer yes, be careful…

Doing that strains your system and causes harm rather than connecting your body and mind!

Make sure that after you hold a breath, the next breath isn’t affected in any way.

This is an easy and effective way to apply Ahimsa to your pranayama practice.

The following is a short guide you can follow to try this yourself.

Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana):

First of all, make sure that your stomach is empty.
Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight, place your left hand on your left knee.
Lift your right hand up toward your nose.
Exhale completely and then use your right thumb to close your right nostril.

Inhale through your left nostril and then close it with your fingers, open the right nostril and exhale through this side.
Inhale through the right nostril and then close it, open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.

This is one cycle. Repeat it for (at least) 5 min.

There are lots of variations of this practice, but I suggest you exhale for twice as long as you inhale.

Another technique is introducing breath retention (holding) after each inhalation. Again, make sure that the exhalation is still twice as long as the inhalation.

I hope this helps you to create peace and connect with yourself.

If you would like to share your journey with your community, I’d love to read about your experience. Stop by the Facebook Group to share.

With love,


Share the post

Read also

Sign up for PlayPauseBe's Newsletter to receive exclusive content and offers

Beginner: no or little experience in yoga
Intermediate: a few years of experience in yoga
Teacher: you teach yoga or you are in YTT