Pranayama is best practiced in the early morning when the mind is clear and free from the experiences of the day. Also, practiced after yoga asana, it can be the perfect transition into meditation. This is also a useful and simple tool to bring us into balance before an exam, meeting or presentation. Just a few minutes can bring us back to our centre, easing anxiety and nervous tension. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Vata Pranayama): Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is a type of pranayama that balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain and has a calming effect on the nervous system while creating a more alert mind. It cleanses the channels of the subtle energy body by removing energetic blockages along the nadis (channels) that correspond to the nerve ganglia on either side of the spinal cord. It is extremely centering, making it one of the best practices for vata dosha. Begin by sitting comfortably on a cushion, folded blanket or in a chair, keeping the head and spine upright. Bring awareness to your breathing process, noticing the quality and length of each inhalation and exhalation. Breathe deep into your abdomen and keep the body relaxed. Position the right hand (you may choose to alternate with each practice) in vishnu mudra by folding the index finger and third finger inwards to lightly touch at the base of the thumb. Your little finger rests by the side of the ring finger. You will alternately use your thumb to close your right nostril and your ring and little fingers, working as one, to close your left. Rest your left hand comfortably in your lap. The breath should never feel forced. Instructions: Breathe in gently keeping the breath relaxed, subtle and light. Block the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand and breathe out through the left nostril. Breathe in gently through the left nostril and then block the left nostril with the fourth finger and breathe out through the right nostril. Breathe in through the right nostril, block the right nostril and breathe out through the left nostril. Continue for five minutes and finish by breathing in through the right nostril. If you are left-handed you will reverse these finger positions (thumb blocks left nostril and fourth finger blocks right nostril). Always breathe in and out gently; do not force the breath and do not hold the breath. Breathe naturally and try to sit upright and in a relaxed and comfortable position. Envision the breath as a light thread of silk, lengthening effortlessly with each inhalation and exhalation. Practice for five to ten minutes. Rest after your practice and notice how you are feeling. Once comfortable with this practice, you can begin mentally counting to four on your inhalation, pause at the space between the breath and then count to four as you exhale, so that the length of your inhalation and exhalation are equal.
- Winter '14
- Gella sireesha