Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alternate Nostril (Anulom Vilom) Breathing

I have been going to a new teacher, Amy's class in Be Yoga and she has been teaching us a breathing exercise, Alternate Nostril Breathing in some of the classes.

Alternate Nostril Breathing is an excellent technique for focusing on your mind and improving your concentration. It is a good breathing exercise to do after working your body and your breath in a sequence of poses, as you will have the energy and concentration to sit and focus on your breathing. With the poses, you are working with your body, using your breath as support while here, you are working with your breath, using your body as support. Focusing on your breath turns your attention inward and is relaxing and energizing.

1. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Keep your body very still and your eyes closed.

2. Use your right hand to control your nostrils. Rest your left hand in gyan mudra by touching the tip of you thumb with the tip of your index on your left knee.

3. Gently place your thumb on your right nostril. Put the inside of your third (ring) finger on your left nostril.

4. Breathe in through your left nostril, closing your right nostril completely by pressing with your thumb. Control the flow of air coming in through your left nostril by partially closing it with your third finger.

5. When you have finished inhaling, close the left nostril completely with your third finger and breathe out through your right nostril. Partially close your right nostril with your thumb to control the flow of air.

6. Leave your thumb and finger in place and continue by breathing in through your partially closed right nostril. The left nostril should still be closed by your third finger.

7. Finally, close your right nostril and breathe out of your left nostril. This is one round of alternate nostril breathing and takes two breaths to complete.

8. Keep repeating the sequence. When you have repeated it a few times and have establised a slow, smooth inhalation and exhalation, try pausing for a second or one count after each inhalation and after each exhalation. Gradually increase the length of the pauses until they are up to four seconds long or four counts.

9. Make your breath slow, smooth and quiet. When you have finished, return to normal, relaxed breathing for a few minutes before getting up.

The way the breathing is measured is at a ratio of 1:2:4. This means if you breathe in for a count, you hold for four times as long, and breathe out for twice the amount of counts you breathed in.

If you feel dizzy or light-headed, stop for a while and continue after breathing deeply three or more times.

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