Prana, the Life force within the breath; ama or yama, to “control” or direct, thus, pranayama is the directing of this sacred life force. In the Vedic tradition we call that which animates our lives, Prana, in the Chinese tradition it is called Chi or Qi. There may be other traditions that have their own term for it and what matters is that we learn to access the merits of this life giving force.
Your life is in your breath, and that is not a small statement. Dead, dull, dense and gross are terms that can be used to describe many states of existence, even when there is a heartbeat. Activating Prana, thus awakening the dormant energy that lies within each of us, allows a profound awakening on every level of life:
- Physically: we open vital pathways within the physical body, via channels, organs, glands, blood, brain, digestion
- Mentally: we open new neural pathways, thus expanding our perceptions, understanding and positivity
- Spiritually or Consciously: we expand what may have been a narrow or rigid point of view and reduce our negativity, skepticism, intolerance and fears
- Emotionally: we simply feel better, on every level and feel more hopeful, energetic, loving and tolerant
Simply spending 6 minutes a day on Conscious Breathing will change you life, more time, more awareness and more joy, it is up to you! Here are some great tools to help you along your way:
- Anxiety Relief: Allows parasympathetic nervous system to take over. Inhale 1 breath in long and slow, filling the lower abdominal cavity then the upper arena, then exhale in 2 parts, breaking the breath gently into these two parts without inhaling in between. Use your navel energy and muscles to help exhale all of the breath out into these two parts. You can increase to a 2 part inhale and a 4 part exhale. Eyes at tip of nose, nearly closed.
- Depression Relief: Releases healthy brain chemicals to induce a feeling of well being, naturally and easily: Inhale 2 breaths in and exhale 1 long breath out like a loud sigh. Once you have done this a few times, you may continue with the sigh or turn the sound part off and just exhale through the nose. You may increase to a 4 part inhale with a 2 part exhale. Eyes at Third Eye point, looking between your eyebrows with eyes closed.
- Cool Down for heat or temper: Roll your tongue sticking it out of your mouth, inhale through your rolled tongue long and slow and exhale through your nose. If you cannot roll your tongue, place your teeth together and inhale through your teeth and exhale through your nose. Eyes in either position as noted above.
- Wake up and start up! Breath of Fire is a delightful way to energize and warm up your body and mind. Be mindful not to do this if you are a person who is naturally hot, living in a particularly hot climate or angry. Using the powerful navel point energy, exhale from that center, in short, quick bursts, mouth or nose, with a strong pumping motion. Focus on your exhales and your inhale will come naturally. If you feel lightheaded, stop, engage in long deep breathing, and try it again, make sure you are using your abdominal muscles and not chest breathing.
- Calm Down, Sleep: Breathing only in and out of your Left nostril will bring the calming, cooling energy of the Moon into you. close off your right nostril and engage in long, slow deep breaths in and out of the Left nostril.
Nadi shodhana or Balanced Breathing
Balanced breathing will engage both hemispheres of the brain to bring a sense of balance, well being and equanimity to you. Use this technique in times of:
- Trauma or emotional upheaval
- Anger or irritation
- Anxiety or Fear
- Worry and Doubt
- Lack of stamina, courage and grace
Place left hand on left knee in gyan mudra, touching index finger to thumb. Fold first two fingers of right hand down and use thumb and ring finger.
Close RIGHT nostril with right thumb, INHALE Left nostril
Close LEFT nostril with right ring finger, EXHALE Right nostril, now, Inhale RIGHT nostril
Close RIGHT nostril with right thumb, EXHALE Left nostril, now, Inhale Left nostril
Close LEFT nostril with right ring finger, EXHALE Right nostril, now, Inhale Right nostril
continue this sequence, moving the breath in and out of each side of your nose for 11 minutes.
to end: After your last inhale, hold the breath for a moment, then exhale through both nostrils.
Sit and relax and enjoy the benefits. Notice how you feel.