Nadi Shodhana - Pranayama how to

Pranayama is a Sanskrit word that means something along the lines of "the manipulation of breath." Pranayama is a way of controlling our prana by means of controlling our breath. Regular pranayama practice invokes balance into our bodies and our lives.

Prana, much like the concept of chi from the Chinese tradition, is our basic life-force energy...the element that all living things share. Some believe that prana is breath, however my teachers explain this is a common misconception. Prana merely rides the breath, it is not breath itself. Either way, in manipulating our breath, we may manipulate the flow of prana, inviting it to evenly redistribute throughout our bodies, creating more harmony and ease. There are many breathing exercises (pranayama) one can do that all have specific consequences. Today, we will discuss Nadi Shodhana - breathing for balance.

Nadi Shodhana : How To

You will be using your thumb and ring finger to alternately close off one nostril at a time. Rest your first and middle finger in between your eye brows (this is the location of the third eye chakra - sometimes simply called the third eye), and allow your pinky finger to relax or just do whatever it does naturally.

We will begin by sitting tall, with a straight spine - you can lean up against something here if it's more comfortable (sit in a chair or on the bed with pillow propped up behind you). However, if you are able it is best to sit cross-legged on the floor.

Rest your hands on your knees, thighs, or in your lap. Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths into your belly. Inhale fully and with your right hand thumb, close off your right nostril - Exhale completely through the left nostril only. Inhale fully through the left nostril, close off your left nostril with your ring finger - Exhale completely through the right nostril. Inhale same side, switch - Exhale left side. Inhale same side, switch - Exhale right side. Continue on this way for 12 more breath cycles.

When you are finished, gently open your eyes and notice how you feel. Repeat this pranayama exercise every day and notice any changes you find in your attitude. It is simple - and you have to breathe anyway so why not take ten minutes a day to breathe balance into your life? There is really no reason not to!

Metta (Loving kindness)
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