Dear Ananda Helpers,

I find that when I breathe during meditation, that instead of inhaling for a count of 8, pausing for a count of 8, and exhaling for a count of 8, that that sequence is not as natural to my style of breathing as: inhaling for a count of 8, exhaling for a count of 8, and THEN pausing for a count of 8, before my next inhale. Should I teach myself: inhale-pause-exhale, or is it okay to inhale-exhale-and then pause; before the next inhale?

Thank you very much,


—Jeff, USA


Dear Jeff,

As we all know, at times what feels natural to us is not necessarily the best for us: it might just be a habit pattern we have created. Our “natural” breathing pattern often needs correction.

Yogananda and Kriyananda taught practicing this pranayama before meditation techniques, the even-breathing technique – inhale, hold, exhale – for the same count, and to increase that count, even up to 20-20-20.

Your way of practicing it – inhale, exhale, hold – I have never seen recommended anywhere. The reason on this path is mostly energetic: connected with the inhalation is an upward current in the spine (in ida); then when you hold, the energy stays in the spiritual eye; then connected with the exhalation there is a downward current of energy in the spine (in pingala); then if you hold, the energy is held at the base of the spine. So what you are doing is holding the energy at the base of the spine instead of at the spiritual eye. That is not helpful, spiritually speaking.

Yogananda and Kriyananda both also taught (rarely) a 4-part even-breathing – inhale, hold, exhale, hold. Try it, it might be a good bridge for you. I would start with 4-4-4-4, increasing the counts slowly. After some time you can change to the inhale-hold-exhale technique, which by then might feel more natural for you.

Or you may start immediately with that recommended breathing pattern. Whatever feels best to you.

Joy to you, jayadev

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