to Pranayama and Yogic Breathing
is so simple and so obvious we often take it for granted, ignoring
the power it has to affect body, mind and spirit. With each inhale we bring oxygen
into the body and spark the transformation of nutrients into
fuel. Each exhale purges the body of carbon dioxide, a toxic
waste. Breathing also affects our state
of mind. It can make us excited or calm, tense or relaxed. It
can make our thinking confused or clear. What's more, in the yogic tradition,
air is the primary source of prana or life force, a psycho-physio-spiritual
force that permeates the universe.
is loosely translated as prana or breath control. The ancient
yogis developed many breathing techniques to maximize the benefits
of prana. Pranayama is used in yoga as
a separate practice to help clear and cleanse the body and mind.
It is also used in preparation for meditation, and in asana,the
practice of postures, to help maximize the benefits of the practice,
and focus the mind.
several of the most commonly used forms of pranayama.
Ujjayi is often called the "sounding" breath or "ocean sounding"
breath, and somewhat irreverently as the "Darth Vader" breath.
It involves constricting the back of the throat while breathing
to create an "ah" sound -- thus the various "sounding" names.
Generates internal heat
to do it
Come into a comfortable seated position with your spine erect,
or lie down on your back. Begin taking long, slow, and deep
breaths through the nostrils.
Allow the breath to be gentle and relaxed as you slightly contract
the back of your throat creating a steady hissing sound as you
breathe in and out. The sound need not be forced, but it should
be loud enough so that if someone came close to you they would
Lengthen the inhalation and the exhalation as much as possible
without creating tension anywhere in your body, and allow the
sound of the breath to be continuous and smooth.
help create the proper "ah" sound, hold your hand up to your
mouth and exhale as if trying to fog a mirror. Inhale the same
way. Notice how you constrict the back of the throat to create
the fog effect. Now close your mouth and do the same thing while
breathing through the nose.
to do it
Anytime you want to concentrate
Dirgha Pranayama Known
as the "complete" or "three-part" breath, dirgha pranayama teaches
how to fill the three chambers of the lungs, beginning with the
lower lungs, then moving up through the thoracic region and into
the clavicular region.
proper diaphragmatic breathing, relaxes the mind and body, oxygenates
the blood and purges the lungs of residual carbon dioxide.
to do it
with your spine erect, or lie down on your back. Begin taking
long, slow, and deep breaths through the nostrils.
- As you
inhale, allow the belly to fill with air, drawing air deep
into the lower lungs. As you exhale, allow the belly to
deflate like a balloon. Repeat several times, keeping the
breath smooth and relaxed, and never straining. Repeat several
into your belly as in Step #1, but also expand the mid-chest
region by allowing the rib cage to open outward to the sides.
Exhale and repeat several times.
steps #1 and #2 and continue inhaling by opening the clavicular
region or upper chest. Exhale and repeat.
all three steps into one continuous or complete flow.
to do it
Prior to meditation
Prior to relaxation
Anytime you feel like it
Nadi Shodhana Nadi
Shodhana, or the sweet breath, is simple form of alternate nostril
breathing suitable for beginning and advanced students. Nadi means
channel and refers to the energy pathways through which prana
flows. Shodhana means cleansing -- so Nadi Shodhana means channel
Calms the mind, soothes anxiety and stress, balances left
and right hemispheres, promotes clear thinking
How to do it
your right hand up and curl your index and middle fingers
toward your palm. Place your thumb next to your right nostril
and your ring finger and pinky by your left. Close the left
nostril by pressing gently against it with your ring finger
and pinky, and inhale through the right nostril. The breath
should be slow, steady and full.
close the right nostril by pressing gently against it with
your thumb, and open your left nostril by relaxing your
ring finger and pinky and exhale fully with a slow and steady
through the left nostril, close it, and then exhale through
the right nostril.
one complete round of Nadi Shodhana --
through the right nostril
through the left
through the left
through the right.
with 5-10 rounds and add more as you feel ready. Remember to
keep your breathing slow, easy and full.
to do it
about any time and any where. Try it as a mental warm-up before
meditation to help calm the mind and put you in the mood. You
can also do it as part of your centering before beginning an
asana or posture routine. Also try it at times throughout the
day. Nadi Shodhana helps control stress and anxiety. If you
start to feel stressed out, 10 or so rounds will help calm you
down. It also helps soothe anxiety caused by flying and other
fearful or stressful situations.
Please send comments or questions
Yoga Site Inc.
is trade mark of Yoga Site Inc.
YOGA TEACHER DIRECTORY