You're probably aware by now that there is a connection between our breath and our mental state. If we breathe properly we can literally calm our minds.
This is what the kids call a 'life hack' It works like this:
1. The mind is very hard to control
2. If we just bring our attention to the breath its easy to control
3. The breath will control the mind
So if you want to calm the mind - using breathing techniques will work. It may feel funny at first if you're new to Yogic breathing techniques - but you will feel the balancing effect on your mind.
Let’s use our breath to calm our minds
We usually translate this breathing exercise as alternate nostril breathing because we will alternate our breath between the two nostrils.
This is how to do it:
- If you can - apply any of yogandha oil to your hands and wrists, temples and forehead before you begin.
- Find a comfortable seat, keeping your spine in a natural upright position.
- Allow your breath to calm down to a steady relaxed rhythm.
- Use your hand to guide the breath. Traditionally we use the right hand but if you're left-handed do what's easy. We'll instruct using the right hand.
- Place your right thumb near the right nostril. Rest your right ring finger and little finger at your left nostril. The middle and index fingers can rest between the eyebrows.
- Take a deep inhale
- Close the right nostril with the thumb. Exhale through the left nostril.
- Inhale through the left nostril.
- Close left nostril with the ring finger, open the right, exhale through the right.
- Keep this position and Inhale through the right nostril.
- Close the right nostril, open the left and exhale through the left. Inhale through the left.
- Now keep breathing like this…always exhaling, then inhaling, then switching...
If at any time you feel uncomfortable, feel blocked up in the nostril or get out of the breath please stop and pause. Letting the breath find its own pace again
Just do for one minute, maybe two. You'll feel the effects from that. You can then add a few more rounds if you feel ready. Your breath should be calm and steady at all times. There is no forcing or discomfort.
Western science supports this practice
Western science is continuously researching yogic breathing techniques due to their positive impact on heart rate, blood pressure and lung function and problem-solving, Some research suggests this breathing practise “helps concentration by increasing amino-acid levels in the brain... It gives stability to otherwise restless ex-addicts... results in an increase in alpha wave activity, along with a reduction of blood pressure, as well as in emotional stability.” This yogic breathing practise has been found to reduce stress and improve practitioners' feeling of happiness.
What Yoga says
In sanskrit, this practise is called Nadi Shodhana. Literally meaning cleaning (Shodhan) the channels (Nadis). Nadis are the energetic channels in our being. Much like meridians. You can’t see them but energetically they are there just like our arteries and veins. Two of the main Nadis, or channels start at the base of the spine and move like a figure of eights intertwining along the spine toward the nose, each ending at each nostril. When we balance these two sides we create balance and calm.
Because this breath is balancing it is the perfect breathing practise to calm down a stressed or anxious mind. As well as creating balance when feeling low, tired, heavy or sluggish.
You can do it first thing in the morning to start the day with a balanced mind. At night to calm down and getting ready for sleep. Or any time during the day when in need of balance.