Seated woman meditating

A 2-step breathing exercise to beat your afternoon energy slump

When you’re craving extra energy to plough through a packed to-do list, taking a break may feel counter-intuitive. What’s more, when energy takes a nosedive, the thought of actually doing something about it (other than reach for a sugary and/or caffeinated treat) can feel like a mammoth task.

Yoga-inspired breathwork offers an easy, practical and healthy way to boost your energy and motivation levels. Of course, along with food, the breath is an essential energy source that help us to work, rest and play at our best. A “breath of fresh air” can do wonders to refresh the brain, replacing stale air and shaking up mental stagnation.

Viloma pranayama is one type of breathwork offering an afternoon pick-me-up to blast the 2pm “blahs”!

The sanskrit term “pranayama” means to notice and work with the breath for positive benefits; “viloma” means to reverse. So, for this particular technique, we reverse the natural flow of the breath by taking pauses that interrupt the natural flow of the inhalation (part 1) and the exhalation (part 2).

These momentary pauses help to increase your lung capacity while also enhancing your control over the movement of the lungs and the respiration cycle. Breathing is an automated function of the nervous system – you don’t need to think about breathing to do it! – but, when you do stop and think about the breath, you give the mind a focus, reining in jumbled and scattered thoughts.

Your guide to viloma pranayama

Ready to try viloma pranayama? Here’s how to do it (or, skip straight to my audio instructions here):


  • Sit comfortably, with a nice, tall back.
  • Start to notice your natural, spontaneous breath.
  • Simply watch the breath moving in through the nose, and out, for a minute or two.

Part 1: 

  • Next, look a little more closely at your inhalation. Imagine that, as you breathe in, the breath is filling up your body just as water from a jug fills up a glass. Watch as your belly and chest (the glass) is filled with breath (the water from the jug).
  • Now, we are going to gently segment the breath into three parts, by interrupting the flow of the inhalation with a pause.
  • On your next inhalation, rather than completely filling up your imaginary glass, take a little sip of air, as if filling up just one-third.  Pause, hold the breath for 1-2 seconds.
  • Now take in another sip of air; fill up another third. Pause, hold the breath.
  • Fill up with another sip of air, imagining that this 3rd sip will fill the glass to capacity. Pause, hold the breath briefly.
  • Now exhale fully, easily and naturally.
  • Take a regular, spontaneous round of breath, then prepare for your next round of viloma pranayama. Take a segmented inhalation, then a natural, full exhalation. Follow each round with a regular breath.
  • Complete 3 rounds in total.

Part 2:

  • This time, take full, easy inhalations, and introduce the pause on the exhalation.
  • Take a regular breath in. When ready to exhale, let out one-third of the air. Pause 1-2 seconds. Release a little bit more air, pause. Last, exhale fully, emptying your ‘glass’ completely.
  • Take a regular, uninterrupted round of breath, then complete 2 more rounds, pausing at intervals of one-third to slowly release your exhalation.
  • When completed, return to your natural, spontaneous breath. Observe how you feel.

Note: As with any breathwork, go slowly. If it doesn’t feel right for you, leave it and simply observe your natural breath.

Bronni Page

Bronni Page

Bronni Page is nuts about living a life full of fun, adventure and connection. She’s quite the "word nerd" and uses this super-power as a health and wellness writer, crafting engaging articles to inspire everyday people be their healthiest, most wonderful selves.

She’s also a qualified yoga instructor, specialising in restorative yoga (the super-relaxing, snoozy, cruisy style).

When she’s not writing for clients or embarrassing her three kids with hilarious mum jokes, you’ll find Bronni searching out the best almond cappuccino in her hometown of Newcastle, Australia.

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