Viloma Rechaka Pranayama: Krama or Segmented Exhalation: Langhana Effect: 46 Reasons to Divide Your Exhalation into Four Parts.

Consciously controlled, gradual, step-by-step released, slow, and long exhalation is a boon for relaxation, stress-relief, insomnia, focus, deep meditation, and your life span!

How to Do the Handsfree Viloma Rechaka Pranayama or Interrupted Exhalation Breathing for Making Your Life a Success

⁍ (a) First, close your mouth and inhale slowly from your nostrils, without pausing, by gently simultaneously expanding both your abdomen and chest together outwards.
⁍ (b) Then, keeping your mouth closed and without holding your breath, exhale slowly from your nostrils in a flow by simultaneously contracting both your chest and abdomen together gently inwards.
⁍ (c) After about one-fourth of the breath in your lungs has been expelled, pause your exhalation for as minimum time as you can (much less than a second).
⁍ (d) Then, continue releasing the second fourth of your breath and after that pause again momentarily in the same way.
⁍ (e) Do the same way again for the third time, for the third fourth of your breath.
⁍ (f) Finally, fully exhale the last fourth of your remaining breath in the same manner with an extremely short pause at the end.
⁍ (g) All four momentary pauses during this single exhalation should be very short just to break the single exhalation into four, not to hold your breath at all.
⁍ (h) They should be in the smooth flow of a single exhalation without any abrupt jerks, etc.
⁍ (i) It should feel like one exhalation, even with these four momentary, very quick pauses.
⁍ (j) Repeat this breath by starting the inhalation again.
⁍ (k) This slow, gradual, and consciously controlled exhalation works best to trigger the deepest calming, focus, and meditation if it is typically divided into four parts, as described above.
⁍ (l) However, you can adjust it based on your comfort and lung capacity.
⁍ (m) One can do it in any sitting posture, while walking or standing and doing things, or while lying down, though ideally in the fresh air.
⁍ (n) You can keep your eyes open, partially closed, or closed, as per your choice.
⁍ (o) You can do this exhalation along with the throat constriction sound of Ujjayi pranayama too.
⁍ (p) For even more rejuvenation, you can add eye-palming to this breathing. Press the center cusp of both your palms gently on your respective closed eyes. Softly raise both your eyes outwards and upwards with your palms as you gently press your eyes with your palms, and stay in that eye-palming position.

Benefits of Viloma Rechaka Pranayama or Krama Segmented Exhalation

1. Interrupted exhalation, such as that practiced in the above Viloma Rechaka pranayama, can have several potential benefits that are both psychological and physiological. The benefits can be inferred from research on controlled breathing and similar pranayama techniques. Here are some of the potential benefits:

2. Enhanced Parasympathetic Response: Slow, controlled breathing, especially during exhalation, stimulates the vagus nerve, which is a major component of the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

3. Improved Respiratory Control: Practicing interrupted breathing helps to increase awareness and control of the breathing muscles. Over time, this can lead to improved efficiency in breathing and better respiratory health.

4. Increased Lung Capacity: By gradually increasing the length of the pauses and the duration of the breaths, Viloma can help to expand lung capacity and strengthen the diaphragm.

5. Lowered Blood Pressure: Slow breathing practices have been shown to lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessel walls and improving blood flow. This can be beneficial for heart health.

6. Reduced Anxiety and Stress: The calming effect of controlled breathing can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and stress. The focus required for interrupted breathing also promotes mindfulness, which contributes to reduced stress and cortisol hormone levels.

7. Enhanced Concentration: The practice of Viloma requires focus and concentration, which can improve cognitive functions related to attention and mindfulness.

8. Improved Heart Rate Variability (HRV): This refers to the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. Higher HRV is associated with a healthy, resilient cardiovascular system. Slow breathing practices like Viloma can increase HRV, indicating a balanced autonomic nervous system.

9. Balanced Emotional State: Controlled breathing can help in managing emotional responses by reducing the reactivity of the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with emotional processing.

10. Better Sleep: Slow breathing exercises can help in the management of insomnia and promote better sleep patterns by inducing a relaxed state conducive to sleep.

11. Detoxification: By promoting deeper exhalation, Viloma can increase the expulsion of carbon dioxide and other waste gases from the lungs.

12. Enhanced Digestive Function: Parasympathetic activation aids in the digestive process, as the body is put into a “rest and digest” state.

13. Neuroplasticity: Regular practice of pranayama is believed to influence brain plasticity positively, which can lead to improvements in overall brain function and mental health.

14. Controlled slow exhalation is a key component of various relaxation techniques, including diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, and meditation. It triggers the parasympathetic nervous system more than normal exhalation due to the following reasons:

15. Vagus nerve stimulation: The vagus nerve is a key component of the parasympathetic nervous system. Slow, controlled breathing, particularly during exhalation, stimulates the vagus nerve, which sends signals to the brain to promote relaxation and calmness.

16. Reduced heart rate: Controlled slow exhalation leads to a temporary increase in blood pressure, which is detected by baroreceptors (pressure sensors) in the blood vessels. These baroreceptors send signals to the brain, which then activates the parasympathetic nervous system to lower the heart rate, promoting a state of relaxation.

17. Increased heart rate variability: Slow, controlled breathing enhances the variation in time between heartbeats, known as heart rate variability (HRV). Higher HRV is associated with increased parasympathetic activity and better stress resilience.

18. Reduced stress response: By consciously controlling the breath, particularly during exhalation, you can override the body’s stress response driven by the sympathetic nervous system. This allows the parasympathetic nervous system to become more dominant, promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety.

19. Mindfulness and focus: The act of consciously controlling your breath during exhalation requires mindfulness and focus, which can help divert attention from stressful thoughts and stimuli. This mindful practice itself can contribute to increased parasympathetic activity.

20. In contrast, normal, uncontrolled exhalation does not provide the same level of vagal stimulation, mindfulness, and conscious control over the body’s physiological responses, resulting in a less pronounced activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. A normal exhalation is not as controlled and may not activate the diaphragm and vagus nerve to the same extent. This can result in a weaker signal being sent to the brain, which may not have the same calming effect as controlled slow exhalation.

21. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA): RSA is a naturally occurring variation in heart rate that occurs during the breathing cycle. During inhalation, heart rate slightly increases, and during exhalation, heart rate slightly decreases. This phenomenon is mediated by the vagus nerve, which is a major component of the parasympathetic nervous system. Controlled slow exhalation enhances RSA, leading to greater vagal tone and parasympathetic activation (Yasuma & Hayano, 2004).

22. Baroreflex sensitivity: The baroreflex is a homeostatic mechanism that helps regulate blood pressure. Baroreceptors in the blood vessels detect changes in blood pressure and send signals to the brain, which then modulates heart rate and vascular tone to maintain stable blood pressure. Slow, deep breathing, particularly during exhalation, enhances baroreflex sensitivity, which is associated with increased parasympathetic activity (Joseph et al., 2005).

23. Cardiorespiratory coupling: Controlled slow breathing promotes synchronization between the heart rate and the breathing cycle, known as cardiorespiratory coupling. This coupling is thought to be mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system and is associated with increased heart rate variability and reduced stress (Jerath et al., 2006).

24. Inhibition of the sympathetic nervous system: The parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems work in opposition to maintain homeostasis. Controlled slow exhalation has been shown to inhibit sympathetic nervous system activity, as evidenced by reduced muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) (Harada et al., 2014). This inhibition of the sympathetic nervous system allows for greater parasympathetic dominance.

25. Central nervous system effects: Controlled slow breathing has been shown to modulate activity in brain regions associated with emotional regulation and autonomic control, such as the amygdala and the anterior cingulate cortex (Critchley et al., 2015). These changes in brain activity may contribute to the parasympathetic-promoting effects of controlled slow exhalation.

26. The scientific evidence supports the notion that controlled slow exhalation, through various mechanisms such as enhanced RSA, increased baroreflex sensitivity, cardiorespiratory coupling, inhibition of the sympathetic nervous system, and central nervous system effects, leads to greater activation of the parasympathetic nervous system compared to normal, uncontrolled exhalation.

27. Controlled slow exhalation can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system more than a normal exhalation because it activates a specific physiological response that is linked to the body’s relaxation response.

28. When we exhale slowly and controlled, it activates the diaphragm, which is the main muscle used for breathing. The diaphragm is innervated by the vagus nerve, which is a key component of the parasympathetic nervous system. The vagus nerve is responsible for regulating various physiological processes, including heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration.

29. When we slow down our exhalation, it increases the activity of the diaphragm, which in turn activates the vagus nerve. This activation sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to relax and calm down, which can lead to a decrease in stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

30. Additionally, controlled slow exhalation can also stimulate the release of neurotransmitters such as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and serotonin, which are associated with feelings of relaxation and calmness. These neurotransmitters can help to reduce anxiety and promote a sense of well-being.

31. The science behind controlled slow exhalation triggering the parasympathetic nervous system is linked to the activation of the diaphragm and vagus nerve, which sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to relax and promotes the release of neurotransmitters associated with feelings of calmness and relaxation.

32. Breathing and the vagus nerve: The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in regulating the breathing process. It contains fibers that control the muscles involved in breathing, including the diaphragm and the muscles of the airways. During inhalation, the vagus nerve stimulates the diaphragm and intercostal muscles to contract, facilitating the expansion of the lungs and allowing air to enter. During exhalation, the vagus nerve signals the relaxation of these muscles, allowing the lungs to deflate and expel air.

33. Slow exhalation and vagal tone: The vagus nerve is one of the main pathways through which the parasympathetic nervous system exerts its effects on various organs. Controlled slow exhalation stimulates the stretch receptors in the lungs, which send signals through the vagus nerve to the brainstem. This increased vagal activity, known as “vagal tone,” triggers the parasympathetic response, leading to a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure, and overall physiological arousal.

34. Parasympathetic response: The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “rest and digest” state of the body, promoting relaxation and conservation of energy. When the parasympathetic system is activated, it slows down the heart rate, increases digestion, and promotes a state of calm and relaxation. This counterbalances the “fight or flight” response triggered by the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for increasing physiological arousal during stress or danger.

35. Benefits of controlled slow exhalation: By consciously slowing down the exhalation phase of breathing, you are enhancing the vagal tone and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve digestion, and promote a sense of calm and relaxation. Controlled slow exhalation is often used in practices such as yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises to induce a relaxation response and manage stress.

36. The reason slow controlled breathing in steps triggers the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) more than a normal, uncontrolled exhalation lies in the physiological effects of the breathing patterns on the autonomic nervous system (ANS).

The ANS is divided into the two following branches

37. Sympathetic nervous system (SNS): Often referred to as the “fight or flight” system, it prepares the body for action by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

38. Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS): Known as the “rest and digest” system, it promotes relaxation, decreases heart rate, and encourages energy conservation.

The Science Behind Slow Exhalation and PNS Activation

39. Vagus Nerve Stimulation: The vagus nerve is a key component of the PNS. Slow, controlled breathing, especially the exhalation phase, is known to stimulate the vagus nerve. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, it releases a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which signals the heart to slow down and promotes a state of calmness throughout the body.

40. Heart Rate Variability (HRV): Slow exhalations can increase heart rate variability, which is the variation in time between each heartbeat. A higher HRV is associated with a more responsive and healthier balance between the SNS and PNS. Controlled breathing practices have been shown to enhance HRV, indicating increased parasympathetic activity.

41. Baroreflex Sensitivity: Controlled breathing can improve baroreflex sensitivity, which helps the body maintain blood pressure at a stable level. Slow breathing increases the sensitivity of the baroreceptors (pressure-sensitive receptors located in the walls of blood vessels), which in turn promotes parasympathetic activity and reduces sympathetic activity.

42. Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia (RSA): When you breathe in, your heart rate tends to speed up slightly, and when you breathe out, it slows down. This natural fluctuation is called RSA. Slow, controlled exhalation enhances RSA, which is primarily a parasympathetic response.

43. Psychophysiological Impact: Slow breathing requires focused attention and often involves mindfulness or relaxation techniques that shift your awareness away from stressors. This cognitive aspect can also lead to reduced sympathetic arousal and increased parasympathetic activity.

44. Blood Chemistry: Slow and deep breathing can also alter the blood chemistry. For example, it can reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood, which can have a calming effect on the body.

45. When you engage in a controlled slow exhalation, you are essentially signaling to your body that it is in a relaxed state. This triggers a cascade of physiological responses that favor the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and enhancing overall well-being. Normal, uncontrolled breathing does not provide the same level of stimulation to the vagus nerve or the associated parasympathetic responses because it does not involve the same deliberate, slow, and extended exhalatory effort.

46. According to Yoga and Ayurveda, your life span, health, and overall well-being is nourished and extended when you exhale slower. Ayama in Pranayama means extending your breath, especially your exhalation. In Yoga, your exhalation is recommended to be twice as long as your inhalation. This easy Viloma Rechaka Pranayama helps you reach that goal, healing you inside out in the process.


– Critchley, H. D., Nicotra, A., Chiesa, P. A., Nagai, Y., Gray, M. A., Minati, L., & Bernardi, L. (2015). Slow breathing and hypoxic challenge: Cardiorespiratory consequences and their central neural substrates. PLoS ONE, 10(5), e0127082.
– Harada, D., Asanoi, H., Takagawa, J., Ishise, H., Ueno, H., Oda, Y., … & Inoue, H. (2014). Slow and deep respiration suppresses steady-state sympathetic nerve activity in patients with chronic heart failure: from modeling to clinical application. American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 307(8), H1159-H1168.
– Jerath, R., Edry, J. W., Barnes, V. A., & Jerath, V. (2006). Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: Neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervous system. Medical Hypotheses, 67(3), 566-571.
– Joseph, C. N., Porta, C., Casucci, G., Casiraghi, N., Maffeis, M., Rossi, M., & Bernardi, L. (2005). Slow breathing improves arterial baroreflex sensitivity and decreases blood pressure in essential hypertension. Hypertension, 46(4), 714-718.
– Yasuma, F., & Hayano, J. I. (2004). Respiratory sinus arrhythmia: Why does the heartbeat synchronize with respiratory rhythm? Chest, 125(2), 683-690.

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1 thought on “Viloma Rechaka Pranayama: Krama or Segmented Exhalation: Langhana Effect: 46 Reasons to Divide Your Exhalation into Four Parts.”

  1. Thanks for writing about this breathing practice. It really helps to calm the mind immediately and stress gets reduced very soon after few exhalations. Thanks for so elaborately writing about the benefits.