Pranayama can be performed before or after the session of asanas. For practical reasons, practicing before is better. In fact, pranayama can be performed more than one time throughout a day. In order to practice 15 to 20 minutes is all that is needed.
The 2 basic pranayamas are:
Kapalabhati – (shining skull – forceful breath)
It is said that this pranayama cleanses the lungs and awakens energy. Through this practice all of the old stale air in the lungs is exchanged for new fresh air. We normally practice 3 rounds of 60 – 80 pumping (quick exhalations) followed by breath retention from 45 seconds to 1 minute.
Anuloma Viloma – (alternate nostril breathing)
Anuloma Viloma or alternate nostril breathing is a practice to slow down and manipulate the air flowing in the nostrils. By controlling this air flow we actually start to control the subtle prana and control the mind.
In a practice session we will do 10 rounds starting on the left and ending on the left side. The count we follow is 4-16-8. Inhale for 4 seconds, retain for 16 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds.
Use the thumb and the ring finger on the right hand to hold the nostrils, and not the index finger. Keep the index finger and the middle finger turned in the palm of the right hand. Keep the sitting posture relaxed and comfortable.
During this practice we keep the breathing even and steady not too fast or too slow. By doing this we regulate the breath and the flow of prana or subtle energy. During the practice you can focus at the point in between the eyebrows.
Rest and relax in Savasana for a few minutes after the pranayama session, enjoy the flow of energy.