In yoga and in everyday life, breathing is life. It is one of the most important functions of the body and we can’t live without it. It is also one of the five major principles of yoga.

This principle, called pranayama or breathing exercise, helps to deliver oxygenated blood to your brain and the other parts of your body. It is composed of a series of exercises that can help to facilitate oxygenation to keep you physically and mentally alert. This is one of the most important health benefits of Yoga.

Here are the four stages of breathing in yoga:

1. Inhalation or Puraka

Puraka is the yogic term for inhalation. It is the act of drawing air in the body that should be done in a smooth and continuous way.

2. Full Pause After Inhaling or Abhyantara Kumbhaka

Abhyantara Kumbhaka refers to the deliberate stoppage of inhalation to retain air in the lungs for a limited period without having to move the lungs, any of its muscles, or any part of your body.

3. Exhalation or Rechaka

This is the third stage of the yoga breathing process. Like inhalation, this process should also be done in a smooth and continuous manner, but it is is performed by relaxing the muscles that you use during the inhalation process. This process forces air to exit from your lungs. You will need to exert effort for both the inhalation and exhalation process. But you will need less energy in rechaka than in puraka.

4. Full Pause After Exhaling or Bahya Kumbhaka

The full pause after the exhalation process is the fourth and final stage of yoga breathing. It involves the deliberate and prolonged pause that you make after completely exhaling the air that you took in. After the Bahya Kumbhaka, you can start the cycle by going back to the puraka or inhalation process.