Viloma Pranayama: A Breathing Technique to Feel Calm and Free


Viloma Pranayama: A Breathing Technique to Feel Calm and FreeViloma pranayama is a pranayama breathing technique where inhaling and exhaling is not a continuous process, but one that is interrupted by several pauses.

The word Viloma is derived from two Sanskrit words Vi and LomaVi means negation and loma means hair. Viloma, therefore, means anti-hair or to be more accurate, means against the natural order of things.

Viloma pranayama can be practiced both in the sitting or lying position. It is a pranayama breathing exercise which is ideal for beginners. The practice of viloma involves interrupted inhalation and exhalation. For instance, if one inhalation lasts 10 seconds, then in viloma it would be interrupted every 2-3 seconds, thus bringing the length of the inhalation to 15 seconds. Similarly, the exhalation process is lengthened to 15 seconds.

Note: While viloma pranayama can be practiced both in sitting and lying postures, the steps outlined below present viloma in a lying position. If you’d like to practice viloma in sitting posture, just follow the breathing techniques outlined here.

How to Practice Viloma Pranayama

  1. Lie flat on a yoga mat, keeping your body in a straight line. Close your eyes and lie quietly for a minute.
  2. Breathe normally. Observe your breath.
  3. Take a deep breath and fill your lungs completely. Exhale completely.
  4. Now start with the interrupted inhalation. Inhale for 2-3 seconds, pause, hold the breath for 2-3 seconds. Continue to do this until the lungs are completely full, which may involve 4-5 pauses. Don’t strain yourself.
  5. Exhale for 2-3 seconds, then pause, hold the breath for 2-3 seconds, pause once again. Repeat this until the lungs feel completely empty.
  6. This completes one cycle of viloma pranayama. Repeat these steps for 5-7 minutes before resting in savasana.

Suggested resource: How to do Bhastrika Pranayama

Health Benefits of Viloma Pranayama

In his book Light on Pranayama, B.K.S. Iyengar outlines the following health benefits of practicing viloma pranayama:

  • It brings a feeling of ease and lightness to the body.
  • It brings a feeling of exhilaration and calm.
  • It rests the nerves and soothes the brain.

We hope you found this guide to Viloma Pranayama useful. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Interested in learning more pranayama breathing techniques? Head over to our Pranayama section.

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Editor’s Note: This article was first published on Dec 31, 2016 and has been updated regularly since then for relevance and comprehensiveness.

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  1. […] Viloma Pranayama (Step Breathing)… Sitting in a relaxed, cross legged position with your spine straight. First, breathe into your lower abdomen for three seconds, pause. Then breathe into your chest for three seconds, pause. Finally, breathe into your shoulders for three seconds, pause. Then exhale and release the breath slowly for a count of nine seconds.… […]


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