Breathing is life. Breath Work (Pranayam) uses the breath to effect and manage different energy states of health, consciousness, and emotion. It is one of our most vital functions. One of the Five Principles of Yoga is Pranayama or Breathing Exercise which promotes proper breathing. In a Yogic point of view, proper breathing is to bring more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and to control Prana or the vital life energy
Pranayama to relieve congestion
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Sit with a straight spine, in Easy Pose (comfortable cross legged position) or in a chair.
MUDRA: Hold the left hand in Gyan mudra
EYE POSITION: Closed
- Exhale fully and then close the right nostril using the thumb of the right hand.
- Inhale through the left nostril, and then close the left nostril using either the index or ring finger of the right hand.
- Open the right nostril and exhale.
- Inhale through the right nostril, then close the right nostril using the thumb of the right hand.
- Open the left nostril and exhale.
- This is one cycle of alternate nostril breathing.
TIME: Continue for 2-3 minutes or continue as long as is comfortable.
TO END: End on an exhale, then resume regular, comfortable breathing.
COMMENTS: The left nostril is associated with the ida naadi, and breathing through the left nostril is taught to be calming, cooling, relaxing and associated with lunar energy.
The right nostril is associated with the pingala naadi, and breathing through the right nostril is taught to be energizing, warming, projective, and associated with solar energy.
Actively switching nostrils engages both hemispheres of the brain, and is taught to affect the glandular system and mood.
The 4/4 Energizing Breath
Sit in easy pose (comfortable cross legged position)
EYE POSITION: Focus at the brow point with eyelids lightly closed.
MUDRA: Place the palms together at the heart center with the fingers pointing up
MANTRA & BREATH: Inhale, breaking the breath into 4 equal parts of sniffs, filling the lungs completely on the 4th. As you exhale, release the breath equally in 4 parts, emptying the lungs on the 4th.
On each part of both the inhale and exhale, pull in your navel point toward the spine. (The stronger you pump the navel the more energy you will generate.) One full breath cycle (in and out) takes about 7-8 seconds.
To end, inhale deeply, press the palms together with force for 10-15 seconds. Create a tension in the whole body by pressing as hard as you can. Hold as long as possible. Exhale powerfully and repeat the inhale, hold, press. Exhale, relax and allow the tension in the body to vanish.
If you need rest, immediately lie on the back with the eyes closed and relax for 2-5 minutes. Take a few deep breaths, stretch, and you will be ready for action.
TIME: Continue for 2-3 minutes
COMMENTS: This pranayama will relax and energize you, it helps combat fatigue and excess emotions. When you begin to feel tired, this exercise is a great quick pick-me-up especially if you have only a few minutes.