Breathe to Reduce Stress… with Alternate Nostril Breath
Breathe. You breathe all the time, right? But now I’ve mentioned it, I bet it feels a bit weird. Are you noticing your breathing, now I’ve drawn attention to it? How is it? Is it calm and steady? Short and fast?
The word ‘yoga’ means to ‘yoke’ or ‘unite’. In Dru Yoga we are always working to unite our physical bodies and our breath, so that the benefits of our yoga practice can spill into our daily lives.
Breathing properly improves your health, increases energy, reduces stress and greatly improves sporting performance
Why? Because breathing properly, bringing in the correct amount of oxygen in, and releasing the right amount of carbon dioxide back out, detoxifies our bodies and nourishes our organs, particularly the brain – raising energy levels and bringing clarity and calmness to the mind.
Oxygen is at the root of our life force and energy levels – our bodies need oxygen over anything else and our modern lifestyles – seated, often slouched, working at computers, crammed on trains and buses, driving cars – restrict our lungs, and with it the amount of oxygen we consume. We end up breathing shallowly and often in quick short bursts. This is why we always start our classes with a short breath awareness technique.
One of my favourite Pranayama (the yoga term for breathing exercise) is called Alternate Nostril Breath, (Nadi Shodhana).
It’s a fantastic way of relieving headaches and work-related tiredness. I have also found it excellent for reducing and even stopping, migraines.
How to do Alternate Nostril Breath
Adopt a comfortable seated position, with your back nice and straight
Bring the right hand up to your face with the thumb near the right nostril and the little finger near the left nostril and the middle finger on your brow, between your eyes
Support your right elbow with your left hand
To begin close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through your left nostril
Then close the left nostril with your little finger and exhale through the right nostril
Keep the left nostril closed and inhale through the right nostril
Close the right nostril and exhale through the left
Keep the right nostril closed and Inhale through the left nostril
Repeat, alternating so you breathe out, and then in, through each nostril in turn. Breathe easily and gently throughout – there should be no forcing of the breath and you do not hold the breath at any point
The benefits should be immediate. Alternate Nostril Breath will bring a sense of calm and balance, your breath will become deeper and more even, your focus and concentration will be improved and the flow of creativity enhanced.