Pranayama: the unsuspected benefits of alternate breathing

To practice yoga well, you must not forget to work on pranayama, in other words: breathing. Spotlight on alternate breathing which brings wonderful benefits.

With the poses, the pranayama, which means “breath control”, is one of the eight pillars of yoga. It is essential when one wants to practice yoga correctly and reap all the benefits. Among dozens of different breathing exercises, we find in particular the alternate breathing which allows let go.

Pranayama: what is it?

Alternate breathing is also called Nadi Shodhana pranayama which means “purification”. It is widely used in yoga and in meditation to calm down and relax. the kundalini yoga for example, often uses alternate breathing to release vital energy. The objective of this practice is to breathe alternately through the left nostril then through the right nostril. Our hectic daily life does not allow us to breathe properly. Moreover, we often observe a blockage at the level of the diaphragm. Meditating allows you to refocus. Getting back to what really matters: yourself. And, there’s nothing like focusing on your breathing to get back to basics.

To succeed in alternate breathing, you must:

  1. Make yourself comfortable, sitting with your back straight and your eyes closed.
  2. Place his left hand on his leg. It is the fingers of the right hand that will allow you to block the nostrils alternately with the thumb and the little finger.

Technique number 1

Left nostril inhalation (5 counts) then right exhalation (5 counts). You must press alternately on the right then left nostril and try to breathe as quietly as possible

Technique number 2

We perform the same technique by adding the Kumbhaka, an air retention.

Inhale left nostril (5 counts) – Pause (5 counts) – Exhale right nostril (5 counts) – Inhale right (5 counts) – PAUSE (5 counts) – Exhale left nostril (5 counts)

To feel the effects, you must perform at least 10 cycles of either technique.

Alternate breathing technique © Coelia Pelletier
Alternate breathing technique © Coelia Pelletier

What are the benefits of alternate breathing?

Practicing alternate breathing brings a feeling of calm to the mind, because it regulates the fluctuations of energy but also of thoughts. This exercise helps to get rid of stagnant air present in the lungs. It is also an excellent introduction to the meditation. In truth, it is simply a matter of emptying yourself for a moment, and observing what happens when you connect to the present moment through your breath. Like a spectator who watches the film of his reflections pass before him. Human beings always want to control everything: the present and the future. Thus, we are not 100% available for what is happening under our feet at the moment T.

Who is the pranayama technique for?

Everyone can practice alternate breathing, except medical contraindications. It is therefore important to consult your doctor before starting.

What are the possible risks?

It’s more of a precaution. If the retention time is too long and causes discomfort, do not hesitate to shorten it. Also, this technique should not be rushed. It is better to do it only when you know you have a little time in front of you. Also avoid practicing it when you have a stuffy nose.

Thanks to Cœlia Pelletier, author and founder of the podcast Celia’s Meditations.

We would like to give thanks to the writer of this post for this remarkable material

Pranayama: the unsuspected benefits of alternate breathing

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