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Thursday, 20 February 2014 19:12

Types of Yogic Breath Work

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You will LOVE these practices! you can even do them at work :)

Pranayama, also known as the vital life force, is central to the practice of yoga and meditation. It is a practice containing varied breathing techniques that can break your unconscious breathing patterns. Consistent practice allows the breath to become long, smooth, and deep, activating the body's parasympathetic response (i.e. the relaxation response). Those who have this kind of breath are more likely to feel at ease, balanced, and can drop into a meditative state quickly. People who develop shallow and erratic breath are more prone to muscle tension and anxiety, which is the activation of the body's sympathetic nervous system (i.e. fight or flight.) Those who breathe this way are subject to an unbalanced amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.

Try these three simple practices to create a richer breath, reduce stress, quiet your mind, and connect with your inner self.

Nadi Shodhan (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

This technique is calming, balancing, anti-anxiety, and extremely relaxing.

Place your first and middle finger on your 3rd eye, the place between your brows. Then place your thumb on your right nostril and your ring finger + pinky on your left nostril. To do one round: close off your right nostril (with your thumb) and inhale into the left nostril; close the left nostril (with your ring and pinky fingers), open the right nostril and exhale through the right, then inhale into the right nostril; close the right nostril, open the left, and exhale through the left nostril. Continue in this pattern for up to 15 or 20 rounds.

Ujjayi (Breath of Victory, Oceanic Breath)

This technique is for focusing, grounding, and deepening the breath.

This type of Pranayama is done through the nose, keeping the mouth closed. Gently and subtly constrict the back of your throat so the air can slip past the glottis with both the inhale and exhale. Keep this contraction engaged the entire time and you'll begin to liken your breath to the sound of ocean waves; the inhale being the pullback of the wave, and the exhale being the crash onto the sand. The breath becomes much louder and brings you into the present moment. You can even liken the sound to fogging a mirror with your breath, except with your mouth closed. To work on your focus, try counting (in your head) the number of seconds it takes for you to inhale and the number of seconds it takes for you to exhale. Try to inhale first to your abdomen, then belly, then chest before releasing the exhale. Try this breath for 3-6 minutes.

Bhramari (Humming Bee Breath)

This technique soothes the nerves and calms the mind.

Take a slow inhale through both nostrils. Exhale through both nostrils (mouth closed) using the throat to make an "eeee" sound, like a buzzing bee. Optional: you can also plug your ears as you do this, giving yourself a more intimate environment. Allow the "eeee" sound to gradually get louder as you continue your practice but make sure not to strain your throat or vocal chords. The vibration of "eeee" will allow you to clear any agitated energy your may be feeling, lessen head tension, and reduce any forms of throat ailments. You can do this breath for up to 10 minutes!

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