Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Balance  through Breath  - Nadi Sodhana  

Calming the mind with alternate nostril breathing pranayama practice

Pranayam is the practice of placing awareness on your breath combined with controlled inhalation and exhalation.  Different breath exercises have different effects on the body.  Some are cooling, others warming, some cleanse while others invigorate.  Among the best known is Nadi Sodhana , a simple technique which uses alternate nostril breathing to unblock the nadis, or energy channels in the body.
The Nadis tend to become blocked when we over-indulge as well as when we intentionally or unintentionally use negative thought processes.   It can be practiced anywhere and requires no equipment or preparation. 

Nadi Sodhana relieves headaches, purifies the respiratory organs and tones the nervous system .  In yoga this exercise is used to prepare the body for further practice and meditation.  It can help to relax the mind and consequently release tension from the body when practiced daily for a few minutes at a time.    

In Nadi Sodhana alternate sides of the nose are engaged, drawing in breath through one nostril and exhaling through the other. 

Start by sitting in a comfortable position with a straight back.
  • Close your right nostril with your thumb.  Inhale through your left nostril.
  • Now close the left nostril with your third and fourth finger and open the right one.  Exhale through the right nostril.
  • Inhale through the right nostril and close it with your thumb.  Exhale through the left nostril. 
This is one full round.  Aim for three rounds to start with.  Increase your practice gradually to up to ten rounds.  Keep the ratio of inhalation to exhalation at 1:1 initially.  Aim at lengthening the exhalation as you become more confident in your practice.

Pranayam seeks to balance the five pranas of the body – the channels through which breath, energy and indeed life itself circulate through the body.  For instance Prana brings energy downward towards the navel.  Apana, it’s counterforce, draws waste and impurities upward towards the centre of the body.  When the two types of prana meet they are, in yogic tradition, burnt by Agni, the purifying fire at the navel chakra (centre).  Agni brings mind and body together.   If you are not a yogi or if you struggle with yogic interpretations think of it as oxidization of waste matter which in turn aids elimination of toxic elements from the body and generates vital energy.

Pranayam is always done on an empty stomach.  Try and stick to the same time for daily practice as the mind tends to accustom itself to routine.  Seek out the help of an experienced pranayama practitioner for individualized guidance since certain physical conditions may require specific adaptations to breath awareness exercises.  

Full instructions and info on Pranayam and Nadi Sodhana can also be found here:

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