Segmented breathing (sometimes called krama) is highly accessible to beginners and to people who don’t like Pranayama (breath control). It is also a great technique for people prone to anxiety. If you’ve ever tried to slow your breath down when you’re anxious, you’ll know it’s very difficult. Segmented breaths are a simpler way for us to take control of the breath.
Segmented breathing is a great way to focus on strengthening the breath and developing control over it. It can be helpful if someone struggles with the inhale or exhale because it is an accessible way to work with just one part of the breath.
There are two approaches – slow & quick.
Viloma pranayama is the slower version of segmented breathing. The breath is generally segmented into 3 parts, it can be done on either the inhale or exhale or both. As a general rule, work with the inhale to energise, and the exhale to relax.
Sit tall & relaxed. Divide your inhale into three parts – inhale a third, then pause for 5 seconds. Inhale a third and hold for 5 seconds. Inhale a third and hold for 5 seconds. Exhale, slowly and lightly with one breath.
You can divide the breath into any number on the inhale, exhale, or both. With the faster segmented breath, the segments are sniffs, and the pauses between the breaths are shorter or non-existent.
Some common segmented patterns are (inhale:exhale):
2:2 – said to boost focus
3:1 – for improved health and can be used to stimulate the thyroid gland.
4:1 – for intuition and improved mental focus.
1:4 – balances the glandular system and can help with insomnia.
4:4 – builds energy and motivation.
8:1 – helps manage stress.
1:8 – boosts relaxation.
8:8 – balances the autonomic nervous system.
16:16 – believed to stimulate the sixth chakra.