Pranayama Before Meditation

In yogic meditations, one would traditionally perform two types of pranayama (one being a kriya) prior to settling into their meditation practice.

Below is one of them. Perform for a minimum of 5-10 minutes.

Nadi Shodhana ….

……..is one of the most commonly practiced pranayama techniques in yoga. The word “nadi” means “nerve channels”. In fact, in yoga the term nadi is applied to channels associated with the flow of prana (vital life force). According to some ancient texts, there are 72,000 such nadis in a human system. The word “shodhana”  means “cleansing” or “purification”. So the term “nadi shodhana” literally means cleansing of the subtle nervous system.

Level 1

  1. Sit in any comfortable sitting posture with the spine erect, eyes closed and shoulders relaxed.
  2. Make the Vishnu Mudra with the right hand – make a soft fist, lift the thumb and the last two fingers up, keeping the middle two fingers at the base of the thumb. During the practice using this mudra, the thumb is used to close the right nostril whereas the ring finger is used to close the left nostril.
  3. Use the right thumb to close the right nostril. To get started, exhale through the left.
  4. Begin the first round by inhaling through the left nostril.
  5. At the end of inhalation, close the left nostril with ring finger and open the right. Then exhale through right nostril.
  6. Inhale now through the right. At the end of inhalation, close the right nostril with the thumb again and exhale through the left.
  7. This completes one cycle of breathing. Continue for about 15 similar cycles. Make sure to use natural breath in and double or triple the exhale out.

Level 2 (once you are comfortable with Level 1 – the “real” breath format is as follows:

Same as the above, but using a retention of the breath of between the inhale and exhale for a COMFORTABLE 5-20 seconds. You would work your way to longest comfortable retention. You should never have to gasp for breath. As with anything – it becomes second nature and once the process/practice feels natural and not awkward…..the magic of it comes.

Benefits

  1. Long, slow breathing brings in increased supply of fresh oxygen into the system. More oxygen means more pure, oxygenated blood going to every cell of the body. This also means that more of carbon dioxide and toxins are eliminated from the body.
  2. This breath helps calm the nerves which can help with the management of anxiety and stress.
  3. Alternate breathing brings about a balance in the system – balancing the dualities like hot/cold, good/bad, honor/dishonor etc. This also helps balance the two sides of the brain – the analytical and the emotional, thus developing a more balanced personality.

 

Balancing the breath between the two nostrils implies balancing the Ida and Pingala nadis. When these two nadis are balanced, then the prana (vital energy) can flow through the central channel of energy called “sushumna nadi” thus clearing the passage for the rising of kundalini energy.

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