Do this breathing exercise to reset your day
It took me years to add pranayama to my yoga practice, and now it's an essential part of my day.
Prana what? Isn't that a clothing brand?
Prana translates as "life force," which is pretty amazing. Our breath is our life force. Our life on earth begins with our first breath and ends with our last; the breath is the raft that carries us through the whole journey.
The ancient yogis recognized the power of the breath, but it's somewhat foreign to most of us here in the U.S. of A.
The other part of that big Sanskrit word, ayama, translates as "control." So pranayama means "control of life force."
No, not that kind of force.
Put simply, pranayama means breathing exercises. That's just not as pretty sounding as "control of life force."
When was the last time you did a breathing exercise?
How about an exercise for your mind?
No? OK then. How about an exercise for your body?
Health is much more than the physical body, something that took overcoming addiction for me to embrace. A regular pranayama practice has so many benefits, and the benefits vary based on the specific exercise. I'm going to share just one in this post, but I'll be sharing more in the future that serve different needs.
If you're still not convinced, let's compare it to working out, something most of us agree is a good thing. Lifting weights makes you strong in body. Pranayama makes you strong in life force. Whoa. That's a big statement.
Give it a try. Start with just one. This one, because it's my favorite everyday practice.
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
- Relieves anxiety
- Clears blocked energy channels in the body
- Releases stuck tension and fatigue (kind of like fixing a clog in your life)
- Balances the energy of the left and right side of the brain (ha/tha, sun/moon, masculine/feminine, however you like to think of it)
- Helps calm the mind and alleviate sleeping problems
When to do it
Personally, I like to do this first thing in the morning and/or right before bed. Those are the times I feel I need to reset. However, I've certainly done this during the day. If you're particularly stressed or feel wonky and off-balance, take five and practice Nadi Shodhana.
How to do it
Here are some step-by-step instructions if you'd prefer them over the video tutorial:
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb
- Place your index and middle fingers on your third eye (the space between your eyebrows)
- Inhale deeply through your left nostril
- At the top of your inhalation, close your left nostril with your ring finger, release the thumb from the right nostril and exhale out the right
- After completely exhaling all the stale air, inhale through the right nostril
- Repeat, alternating sides
This exercise feels silly the first time you practice. I realize that I look rather silly in the video above. But it's a powerful practice, and once you feel the tingly wave of peace flow through your body, you won't think it's so silly anymore.
If you give this a try, let me know how it goes!