Yoga isn’t and has never been just Asana (Physical Postures). In fact all that is said in Patanjali’ Yoga Sutras about Asana is: ‘Asana is a steady and comfortable posture’ (2:46 Patanjali, The Yoga Sutras). This is very different from how we view Asana these days. Anyway I wanted to post about something different, from the Eight Limbs of Yoga and something equally as important if not more important than Asana. That is Pranayama – Breath Control.
Pranayama like Asana comes in many variations but one of favourite Pranayama practises is: Nadi Shodhana – Alternate Nostril Breathing. Biomechanically this breathing technique slows down the breathing and corrects shallow breathing, which in turn has a calming effect on the mind. It helps to bring balance to the left and right hemispheres of the brain and can help to balance Ida and Pingala Nadis (energy channells) allowing Prana (life force) to rise up Sushumna Nadi (most important Nadi in the body).
- Sit up straight, in a comfortable cross legged, seated position.
- Take your right hand and make the shape shown in the top left photo (Vishnu Mudra).
- Exhale fully.
- Bring the right thumb to close the right nostril, at the same time inhale through the left nostril, deeply, expanding the stomach with the breath.
- Pinch both nostrils with the thumb and ring Finger, then release the thumb and exhale through the right nostril.
- Inhale through the right nostril (keeping the left closed with the ring finger).
- Pinch both nostrils (without holding the breath) and exhale through the left.
- Inhale through the left and repeat (up to 12 times).
- Feel calm, energised and happy.