Different Breathing Techniques / Pranayama
In addition to my first Blog about Pranayama in general, I´d like to introduce you to a very powerful breathing technique we regularly practise in our Yoga classes.
It is called the
Alternate Nostril Breathing / Anuloma Viloma or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
Wow, this one has a lot of benefits to body and mind. It helps
- to calm the mind and the nervous system,
- to strengthen the respiratory system (great technique for people with Asthma)
- to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain, optimizing both sides
- to concentrate better
- to focus more
- to release tensions and settle stress.
- to stimulate the Nadis or energy channels in our body
According to scientists our normal breathing does alternate between the nostrils about every 2 to 3 hours (may vary) without us actively noticing. But if this can´t be done by itself because e.g. of a constant blockage in the nose it can have a negative effect on our health as one hemisphere of the brain will be stimulated dominantly and the other less.
You can practise the Alternate Nostril Breathing perfectly before your start with your Asanas / Yoga postures as it helps you relax and focus. But this technique is also very helpful when you feel a bit out of space … nervous, anxiety, too many to-dos on the list, stress, problems with sleeping or if you just want to focus on balancing yourself.
Practise when you are of good health, no cold, fever or blocked nostrils.
In general keep your breath gentle, and in a natural flow without forcing yourself to inhale or exhale more or for a longer time.
How to practise:
- Sit comfortably with easy crossed legs in meditation pose or if that is difficult, sit on a chair, with your legs hipwide open, feet completely on the floor. In both positions keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Start with a couple of normal inhales and exhales through your nose.
- For Beginners: place your left hand comfortable on your knee (or on your left leg). For Advanced Yogis and Yoginis: Place your left hand in Chin Mudra or Jnana Mudra on your left knee. (These are Hand Gestures. The thumb and the index finger are touching and forming an O, in Jnana Mudra the palm of your hand is on your knee, in Chin the palm of your hand is facing up).
- Place right index and middle finger gently between your eyebrows, fingers are straight, thumb on the right and ring- and small finger are on the left
- Now close your right nostril gentle with your thumb and inhale gently and steady through your left nostril only.
- When you´ve finished inhaling, exhale gently and steady on the same side of your nostril. Keep about the same frequency for your in- and exhales.
- Then close your left nostril gently with your ringfinger and open the right nostril to in- and exhale there gently and steady as well.
This is one round.
After completing the exhale on the right nostril close the nostril with your thumb again, open left nostril and in- and exhale there. You can practise 4 to 6 rounds, but always listen to your body. When the breathing gets tough or you feel dizzy or uncomfortable do less rounds or stop with the next exhale. Always finish your rounds with an exhale. After finishing release your right hand, place it on your knee or leg in same pose as the left hand is already and stay for a couple of normal breath in this position. Feel the sensation of the exercise.
In the beginning and without any practise before, start with deep inhales and exhales. Later when you get used to the technique you can start a steady inhale while counting to 4 and a steady exhale while counting to 6. (advanced: inhale for 5 and exhale for 8)
You will find that with regular practise you lengthen your breath automatically and with that, you will be able to increase the counts to your needs and liking.
I wish you much fun in exploring and practising this nice Breathing technique. If you like it, please give my post a LIKE, and if you want to know more about the variations this practise has, let me know and I am happy to post those as well!.
P.S. you can click on the underlined green words to get additional informations! And to access my webpage: AboutHathaYoga.com