In the previous blogs we introduced you to the word praana. Praana is vital life force energy. Without this force, nothing would exist on this planet. So all living things have praana. It is the essence of life. It is Universal Life Force.
The connection to our Mother/Father God and our I Am Presence is through a column of Light which is connected to our crown chakra and then moves down to our physical body through the various nerve plexuses or chakras; and then is distributed throughout the body by the nadis or meridians. This connection is our direct link to the source. This connections is always present, but not necessarily flowing optimally. Yoga focuses on improving this connection. In yoga the hypothesis is that all diseases are ultimately caused by improper distribution of praana in the physical body.
At this time we will concentrate on increasing praana through breathing exercises. It is a simple way to start. Later we will introduce the other methods. The three main nadis are ida, pingala and sushumna. Ida is the left nostril and has a negative charge, pingala is the right nostril with positive charge. They cross over at the six chakras or nerve plexuses.
Our breath switches from one side of the nose to the other approximately every 90 minutes. When balanced the flow of breath goes through the sushumna nadi and both nostrils flow equally. That equal breath means that the praana is flowing optimally. Alternate nostril breathing is very important in yoga. ealth We We We will start with a simple breathing exercise.
Please sit up straight and take the right hand and fold the index and middle finger. With the thumb close the right nostril and inhale through the left. Then take the ring finger and close the left and open the thumb and exhale through the right. Keeping the right open, inhale, close the right and exhale through the left. Keep the left open and inhale. Open the right and exhale. Continue for at least 2 to 3 minutes. You are taking the breath in like a U-turn. Whatever nostril you exhaled out of, you inhale into. Try to make the breath long and subtle. The arm may get tired. If you are sitting at a table, you can prop up the elbow.
It is called happy breathing because there is no breath retention and it balances the flow of praana. This is one of the few exercises that can be done by all, no matter age or physical condition. What the mind is doing during the exercise also affects its efficacy. Ideally one is to repeat a mantra mentally while breathing. Or repeat OM for the length of the breath as you inhale and OM for the length of the breath as you exhale. This will keep the mind in an alpha state and relaxes the body. To be effective daily practice is necessary. As the stamina increases we wish to increase the duration of practice to 10-15 minutes. Always start slow and steady.
Yoga states we must practice for a long time, unbroken, with love and respect until the result is achieved. So if one practices every day unbroken for only 3 minutes it is more effective than a sporadic ten minute practice. If possible try to do it twice a day. At the same time deep rhythmical breathing should continue.
There are three methods of breathing: diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing, thoracic or chest breathing and clavicular breathing. The combination of all three is known as yogic breath. The diaphragm, which separates the lungs from the abdomen, when functioning properly is the most efficient way of breathing. When we watch a baby breathe, we see the abdomen rising and falling. So it is our natural way.
The easiest way to learn diaphragmatic breathing is to lie down in shavasan or relaxation pose and place the fingertips gently just below the center of the ribcage. As you breathe in the diaphragm moves up, as you breathe out it moves down. It is important to be relaxed and not force the movement. Once mastered then we concentrate on also expanding the chest not only up and out but also to the sides as we inhale. Again it needs to be a natural movement without any strain. Lastly we must bring the breath all the way to the clavicle which raises the sternum.
All three movements constitute yogic breathing. It takes time and practice and can not be achieved quickly. Later they all move in unison. It must be relaxed and natural. This week focus on t rhythmical breathing, and happy breathing.
Next blog we will introduce a breath to expand our lung capacity.
With love and respect,