Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

~ ~ PRANAYAMA ~ ~  

~ ~ The intentional control/regulation of our life force energy ~~

‘ The word Prāṇāyāma derives from the Sanskrit words prāṇa and ayāma, translating as “life force” and “expansion”, respectively. It is a common term for various techniques for accumulating, expanding and working with prana. Pranayama is one of the eight limbs of yoga and is a practice of specific and often intricate breath control techniques. The dynamics and laws of Prana were understood through systematic practice of Pranayama to gain mastery over Prana’ (Wiki)

Breath is life. It is the link to our most vital source of energy. Nothing can change the state of our being- mentally, emotionally, or physically, faster than the quality of our breath. Just think- when you get nervous, stressed, or drop into a state of fear, the breath gets rapid, shallow and incomplete. When you feel relaxed, the breath is deeper, fuller and more sustaining. Without breathing, the body can only survive for about 10 minutes.

Pranayama is the practice of breath control. Or more accurately, it is the control of life force, prana, through breath-work.

Pranayama has the unique ability to access the conjunction of our main sensory organs—the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, at the back of the nasal cavities. Here, there is also a supreme access to the nervous and endocrine system.  It directly affects the pineal gland, known by Rene Descartes as the point of connection between the intellect and the body. The pineal gland plays a primary role in our ability to relax and fall asleep, increases the production and release of the feel-good hormone serotonin, and helps increase appetite.

Pranayama richly oxygenates the blood, cleanses and purifies the lymph, improves digestion, circulation, and can be energizing or relaxing, depending on the type practiced. As an added bonus—it’s absolutely free and can be done virtually anywhere.

There are multiple forms of pranayama, each one having an array of benefits. Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is an excellent choice for most people. It works to balance the right and left brain/ Ida and Pingala/ yin and yang / male and female energies of the body. It releases stress and tension, helps to clarify your mind, creates vitality and brings you into the present moment. It assists with hormonal balance, PMS, menopause, anxiety, insomnia, respiratory issues, circulation, indigestion, skin issues, low energy or fatigue, and so much more.

To practice is simple:

  1. Begin seated in a cross-leg position, or at the edge of your seat with both feet placed evenly on the ground. Sit tall, with a straight spine, shoulders rolled loosely back and eyes closed.
  2. Gently pinch the right nostril closed with your right thumb.
  3. Exhale fully from your left nostril. Pause
  4. Inhale through your left nostril. Pause
  5. Gently pinch your left nostril with your right ring finger.
  6. Exhale through your right nostril. Pause
  7. Inhale through your right nostril. Pause
  8. Gently pinch your right nostril with your right thumb.
  9. Exhale through your left nostril. Pause
  10. Inhale through your left nostril. Pause

Continue in this simple, rhythmic pattern. Take steady, long, slow, deep breaths from the deep in the belly, all the way up your spine to the crown of your head. Feel the complete fullness with each breath. Allow the exhale to be longer than the inhale.

Start with one or two minutes of pranayama practice in one sitting, and slowly build up to 10 or more minutes. It is more beneficial to practice a small amount every day than to do a longer practice sporadically. Try adding it in to your daily routine, such as after your morning shower before having breakfast, and feel the benefits unfold.

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