Hopefully you have the chance to partake in a yoga class that incorporates what's known as pranayama or breathwork. With modern yoga in the west most classes are primarily focused on the asana or physical postures. I believe this stems from the tendency to "do more" and "do more faster". Work hard, play hard, you know the drill. While this will result in strong physical bodies, it may leave you gasping for air. This is where the importance of breathwork comes into play. We can balance the desire to constantly be going and doing with a sense of simply being which is after all what we are...human beings. My favorite types of breathwork are the ones that leave you feeling calm, peaceful and balanced. Please see my favorite technique below:
Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhan
(nadi = subtle energy channel; shodhan = cleaning, purification; pranayama = breathing technique)
1. Find a comfortable seat and place your left hand on your left leg with palm up to the sky or in chin mudra touching thumb to index finger.
2. With the right hand, touch the ring finger to the thumb. Bring those fingers up to your nose and place them on either side of your nose where the little crease is between the flesh of the nostrils and the bridge of the nose. The other fingers can tuck into the palm or place them on your third eye, the point between your eyebrows.
3. Press the thumb into the right side of the nose closing off the nostril and exhale out the left side.
4. Inhale that same side, pause at the top of the inhalation, close off the left side and exhale out the right nostril.
5. Inhale same side, pause at the top and exhale out opposite side.
6. Keep repeating this for at least 9 cycles or for as long as you like staying relaxed through the face, neck and shoulders. A soft, gentle breath almost as if you had a feather on your top lip and it's simply fluttering in your breath and not flying away.
7. Release your hands to your lap when finished and notice the affects.
You may find yourself in a meditative state. If so, feel free to stay in your comfortable seat and meditate.
Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing a.k.a. Nadi Shodhana:
This type of breathwork is known to clear blockages in our energy channels which in turn calms the mind, therapeutic for respiratory and circulatory systems, balances both sides of the brain and body temperature. When we are focused on just one thing, our mind will be less stressed and our body balanced.