Tag Archives: Pranayama (Breathwork)

Third-Eye Meditation

FY030GVB-PEACE-LOVE-OM-INDIGO-2-900x900Meditate with us at our new blog and open up your third-eye chakra with this wonderful meditation practice….

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Staying Balanced This Season.

pranayama-copyDon’t get swept away this fall with your busy work-life schedule, stay rooted with this breathing technique.

Full Moon, Harvest Moon.

jeff-sullivan-via-mysticmammaCome celebrate the Harvest Moon and Fall Equinox with us at our new blog…

Photo: Jeff Sullivan

Breath Of Fire

17422-EX_196_01For this week’s pranayama and in light of the 3rd chakra, Manipura, we’re introducing you to Kapalbhati, also know as Breath of Fire.

This is a rapid diaphragmatic breathing, designed to clean toxins from the body, raise internal fire, and stimulate the ascending current (that which our prana runs along). Having a healthy and spirited 3rd chakra supports us in overcoming inertia, when we choose to consciously activate our core muscles with asana or pranayama we can help build our internal fire, or agni, found in the body. Having a kapalbhati practice can help stimulate not only positive states of being associated with this chakra such as joy and happiness but it can also increase our energy, giving us that extra oomph to get us through the day.

To begin sit in an upright, comfortable seat with your back straight and legs relaxed.

Using the muscles of your kapalbhati-12abdomen, snap (a sharp quick breath) in your diaphragm/belly, causing a quick exhale to escape the body through your nose. Keep your mouth closed.

When you relax your belly, an inhale will naturally occur with air moving in your nose and chest. You need not to force this inhalation.

Then snap the belly once again, followed by a relaxing inhale, causing another exhale and inhale, so with each breath there is more emphasis on your exhales.

When this process feels comfortable for you, repeat quickly, causing several quick exhales. Do in sets of 2o to begin and then you can increase to 50 once you become more accustomed to this practice. Repeat 3 sets. After a while you can place yourself according to what feels right. Increase the number and speed as your stomach muscles become acclimated.

*Note: If at any point you being to feel lightheaded stop your pranayama practice and come back to a neutral breath.

Source: Ayurveda For Everyday and Yoga Journal.

Stay Cool!

Cooling-Breath-Sheetali-PranayamaThe summer heat can be so thick, steamy and stifling sometimes that just a few minutes outdoors can make breathing feel like too much of a tiring activity. The good news – the traditional yoga practice of pranayama has gifted us with a breathing technique that essentially makes you your very own walking A/C unit. The word “sheetali” means cooling in Sanskrit, it is taken from the original word “Sheetal” which is soothing or cold. The pranayama practice of sheetali breathing calms the mind, reduces stress and helps cool the body and mind.

The purpose of Sheetali breathing not only helps calm stress and relax the body but is mainly used to cool down our body temperature. The ancient text of Hatha Yoga, Pradipika, states that this pranayama removes excess heat accumulated in the body and all our our organs. It can reduce excess bile and helps to reduce fevers. Sheetali breathing can keep our organs from ‘overworking’ in the heat thus keeping you internally and externally cool. It also has a calming effect on the nervous system, especially as it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which induces muscular relaxation and is very effective in stress management.

In this pranayama the tongue is rolled in a specific manner as shown in figure. But many people can not roll their tongue in this fashion. If rolling your tongue is not accessible try pressing your teeth together leaving no gap between your jaw open your mouth and breath through your teeth while keeping your jaw sealed. You’ll feel a cool air stream through your teeth.

Sheetali (Cooling Breath)

cooling-breathBegin in a comfortable seated position and give yourself a minute to relax your whole body. Release any tension in your neck, spine, legs, etc. Really allow your body to release feeling completely relaxed.

Start by rolling your tongue and inhale through your mouth feeling the cool air enter your mouth within your tongue. Inhale for 4 seconds. Exhale through your nose for 6 seconds, make sure your exhales are a little bit longer than your inhales. Repeat and practice for about 5 minutes.

Source: Yoga Point 

Second Chakra Meditation

lotus-flower-bethwyn-millsSecond chakra meditation pertains to your passion chakra. The sacral chakra, or swadhishthana chakra, is the ‘dwelling place of the self’ and is filled with flowing, moving energy.

Its element being water, it represents your connection to your emotions and creative impulses. The color of the chakra is orange and the lotus flower symbolic of the chakra has six petals.

A blocked or unbalanced second chakra could lead to an inability to experience life’s sweetness or to hedonism. Both have negative consequences. And as we seek to live a honest, full-filling and balanced life according to personal pleasure and desires its important to turn to our emotions. While it is important to be in touch with your feelings, you are not your feelings, so an excessive attachment to them also turns counter-productive.

Feelings, like thoughts, are events that arise and fall within us, but they are not us. They simply do not define us. The whole purpose of meditation is to rise above our incorrect identification with our thoughts and feelings.

But, the intensity of strong emotions can be quite addictive. And hard to let go in spite of best intentions. Just like anything that’s good for us and adds well-being to our day-to-day lives will take a good deal of practice. With a consistent meditation practice we can begin to unblock our second chakra.

The following second chakra meditations will help you activate and balance your sacral chakra leaving you to pursue your deepest and most lively passions.

Awaken the Swadhishthana Chakra

  • Sit comfortably in your normal meditation posture
  • Visualize an orange spinning chakra in the lower abdomen below the navel
  • Imagine a circle of orange light emanating from your chakra and spreading to the rest of your body in wave like ripples
  • Feel a sense of warmth enveloping the whole body, starting with the genital area and then radiating out
  • Keep meditating on these ‘waves of warmth’ and allow yourself to let go and flow like water
  • Keep your attention on your sacral area you may begin to feel pulse-like vibrations – welcome this energy into the body and see if you can direct this pulse up and down your spine.
  • Do it for 20-30 minutes

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VAM Meditation

The seed sound or mantra of the Water element is VAM (pronounced as hum). Chanting this mantra helps activate the chakra.

  • Sit comfortably in your normal meditation posture
  • Close your eyes and bring your awareness inward.
  • Start to deepen your breath and with each inhale silently say VAM
  • Hold your inhale at the top and then release for an exhale.
  • Repeat for a few rounds and start to notice where you feel vibrations in your body as you say this seed mantra to yourself.
  • Meditate for 20-30 minutes

Originally written and sourced from Do Meditation.

Photo: Bethwyn Mills

Ins and Outs of Prana

6-Breathing-Exercises-to-Relax-in-10-Minutes-or-Less_0Humans have been known to survive for months without water and weeks without food yet die within minutes when deprived of oxygen. Respiration represents the power of prana, the ultimate expression of energy and life. When prana flows abundantly through our beings we become aware of a special glow to our skin and eyes, a spring to our step and the pulse of energy in every cell, vibrating vitality through every thought, word and deed. Conversely, an impeded or deficient flow of prana is marked by constant fatigue, dull skin and eyes and loss of enthusiasm. Breathing exercises are the easiest way to increase the flow of prana in our body and to unleash dormant prana.

What is Prana?

”As the spokes are attached to the hub, so on this life breath, all is connected”   – Ancient Indian treatise

In the ultimate sense prana is the subtlest form of all energies that permeate and sustain life in the cosmos. It is the underlying power supplying all universal forces allowing the ocean to surge, the sun to rise, flowers to bloom and the earth to revolve. The localized aspect of prana is the force uniting mind, body and spirit together known as the bio-energy field in humans. This flows from the spirit and is also absorbed from the atmosphere instantly through breathing oxygen and slowly through the colon with the transformation of food into energy.

Prana travels through our bodies via channels known as nadis, a concept similar to Chinese medicine’s chi, which travels along meridians. Absorbed through the medium of breath, prana has specifications on the respiratory, digestive, circulatory, cardiovascular, lymphatic and nervous system functions. Most importantly prana governs all the mental processes including thoughts, feelings, the will and reason. Longevity, health and vitality are all determined by the quality of prana flowing in our bodies. Taking in all this new information can be a bit overwhelming so now would be a good time to take a deep breath!

About Pranayama 

“As wind drives away smoke and impurities from the atmosphere, pranayama is a divine fire which cleanses the organs, senses, mind, intellect and ego.”      – BKS Iyengar

Pranayama is the art of breath control whereby the mental and physical state is brought to a harmonious state of health and serenity. It is a technique that increases, controls and frees the flow of prana throughout the entire body. The practice of pranayama brings awareness to the breath, which then connects us rapidly with our inner physical and emotional state.2786-22

Our relationship with life is mirrored in our breathing. When we’re nervous or excited our breathing becomes shallow, jerky and rapid. A relaxed, quiet state will create slow and deep breathing. Humans breath about 16-18 times a minute, inhaling about 13,000 litres of air every 24 hours. Due to exercise, anger, passion and anxiety the respiration rate increases, straining the heart and decreasing the life span. The slow, deep breathing and retention of breath in pranayama helps to compensate for the damage incurred by rapid, shallow breathing.

Pranayama also ensures a rhythmic harmony between the left bodily channel (ida) and the right bodily channel (pingala). This is important as these nadis govern opposite polarities in the body. Pingala which is stimulated by right nostril breathing promotes heat, masculinity, extroversion and digestion. Left nostril breathing stimulates ida which encourages cold, femininity, introspection and fertility. Roughly every hour our breathing shifts from one nostril to the other whereas pranayama encourages us to breath through both nostrils in order to maintain our bio-energetic balance.

Let’s Get Breathing!

For a beginner unfamiliar with pranayama please read the few guidelines below to help you set up for a healthy and sustainable pranayama practice.

 The full Yogic Breath

  1. Lie down on your back, placing your right palm flat over your lower abdomen and your left palm at the top of your chest. The palms help to monitor the wave-like motion of the full yogic breath.
  2. Exhale, emptying the air from your abdomen and chest.
  3. Inhale deeply feeling your abdomen fill with air and rise then your chest up to the clavicle should fill with air and rise. Pause when you feel you have inhaled to your full capacity then inhale further.
  4. Exhaling the chest will first lower as the air is expelled then the abdomen will empty and contract.
  5. Continue this for 5 cycles. Once you have achieved a smooth rhythm proceed to pranayama exercises. The full yogic breath is to be observed whilst doing all pranayamas unless stated otherwise.

Ujjayi Pranayama (Baby’s Snore)
Best time for practice: Before meditation, before bed, and during yoga

Method:
1. Sit in a comfortable position with a straight back and neck.
2. Place your hands on the knees and close your eyes.
3. Exhale through the nostrils emptying your lungs and abdomen of air.
4. Slightly contract the throat and breath in deeply through the nostrils, keeping your mouth closed, for the count of 4. This will make a ‘sa’ sound similar to the gentle snore of a baby. The abdomen and chest should fill and rise.
5. Hold your breath at the top for the count of 2 then straighten head and exhale through the mouth to the count of 4. A ‘ha’ sound will be made on exhalation.
6. Repeat this cycle five times.
Benefits:
1. Calms and focuses the mind.
2. Useful in respiratory tract disorders, hypertension, insomnia and fatigue.
3. Relieves nervous tension and anxiety

Guidelines for Pranayama

  1. The best time to practice pranayama is in the morning when the air is cool and the mind and body are fresh or at dusk.
  2. The bowels and bladder should be emptied.
  3. It is best to practice pranayama after exercises and before meditation.
  4. Find a secluded, quiet, clean, well-ventilated space, preferably free of insects.
  5. Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair with the back erect and the head straight. Vajrasana or sukhasana are good positions.
  6. A folded blanket, flat cushion or mat may be placed on the floor for comfort.
  7. Keep all your facial and bodily muscles relaxed.
  8. Close the eyes and rest the tops hands on knees.
  9. Breathe only through the nose unless stated otherwise.

This article was beautifully written from the folks at: Ayurveda Elements

Photos: Yoga Journal