In Part 1, we had a look at the basic Principle of the breathing exercises known as Pranayama.
As you become familiar with this style of breathing, one of the breathing exercises which is easy enough to become comfortable with, and is of great benefit, is the method known as
Here’s how to perform this exercise:
- Sit in a relaxed position – a yogic crossed legged position is, of course, recommended. However, if this is uncomfortable for you then by all means adopt a position suitable so long as maintaining an upright upper body.
- Draw a breath in through your nostrils. Either mentally, or by watching a timer, count the seconds.
- As an example, if your in breath counted for 5 seconds, the next step is to hold the breath for 4 times that count, i.e. in this example, you would hold the breath for a count of 20 seconds.
- Following the 1 – 4 – 2 method, you would now exhale through your mouth for a count of 10 seconds.
- Repeat for duration of exercise.
- In breath = 5 seconds
- Hold breath = 20 seconds
- Out breath = 10 seconds
Another example would be:
- In breath = 3 seconds
- Hold breath = 12 seconds
- Out breath = 6 seconds
Once you become practiced at these breathing exercises, you do not necessarily need to remain limited to one place or position.
Anywhere, at anytime, you may perform these breathing exercises. Some examples are when standing in a queue or while travelling on public transport, or as a passenger in a vehicle, during your breaks at work, waiting in the car park for someone. You get the idea.
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
Let’s have a look now at another of the pranayama breathing exercises, a little more advanced. This is known as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing (A.N.B).
This breathing exercise is not difficult for you to learn, just different to what you are used to. The benefits of practicing ANB are almost immediate in the way of clearing the mind and invigorating the senses.
Alternate nostril breathing is exactly that; breathing through one nostril and then the other, alternating sides.
Breathing through the left nostril delivers an overall calming effect to the mind and body, while breathing through the right nostril energises the mind and body.
How to do it:
- Sit in a relaxed position – a yogic crossed legged position is preferred, however, if this is uncomfortable for you then by all means adopt a position suitable so long as maintaining an upright upper body.
- I find it good to allow your head to tilt slightly back.
- Press your right hand thumb to your right nostril, holding the remaining fingers pointing up, and draw a deep breath in through only your left nostril.
- Now use your right hand ring finger or pinky, whichever you find most comfortable, to press on your left nostril and release the thumb from the right nostril. Exhale for as long as comfortable through your right nostril.
- Now, with your ring finger or pinky still pressing closed your left nostril, inhale through the right nostril. Press your thumb again to the right nostril and release the ring finger or pinky from the left. Exhale through your left nostril.
- Now repeat this process of alternating the breath through the nostrils. Always inhaling through the nostril that has just exhaled, and then swapping.
- The mouth remains closed throughout the exercise.
- Continue this breathing exercise for at least 3 – 5 minutes and for as long as comfortable.
Among the benefits of ANB are:
- Lowers Anxiety.
- Calms the mind
- Balances both hemispheres of the brain
- Is a very good breathing exercise for those suffering from Asthma and other breathing disorders.
- This is a great breathing exercise for doing just prior any kind of activity which may bring feelings of anxiety or nervousness and where clarity of thought is optimal i.e. speaking engagements, exams, competitive activities.
- Renewed vitality, energy and vigour
Caution: The practice of pranayama, breathing exercises, has many, many benefits for the whole of your being. However, if you have ANY health concerns, especially, though not limited to, low blood pressure, circulation, heart or if you are pregnant, please be sure to consult your GP or other Medical Professional before commencing.
Dizziness may occur and is a natural occurrence due to increased blood flow to the brain. If you are able to relax and sustain this experience it can be most exhilarating and brings about a sensory shift of semi detachment. Again, caution is advised.
Founder of Superyou4life