Relaxation: Breathing Practices & Meditation

    Breathing Practices

    Nadi Shodhana is a pranayama practice that yogi’s do to for balance.  The sanskrit words Nadi Shodhana Pranayama translated into English means Alternate Nostril Breathing.  This practice is believed to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the nervous system. The left nostril corresponds to the yin energetic which is cooling, restorative, and feminine in nature.  The right nostril corresponds to the yang energetic which is warming, energizing, and masculine in nature.  Ideally this practice should be done in a quiet environment where you can dedicate 5-20 minutes to direct your awareness solely on the breath.  Start by sitting in a comfortable position.  Using your right hand, curl your index and middle fingers inward and extend your thumb, ring, and pinky fingers. Inhale through both nostrils then use the pads of the thumb to close off the right nostril.  Exhale slowly and evenly through the left nostril.  Inhale through the left nostril completely and the use the pads of the ring and pinky finger to close off the left nostril.  Release the thumb and exhale out the right nostril.  This constitutes one round of alternate nostril breathing.  You want the length of the inhale to match the length of the exhale.  This is called 1:1 breathing.  Over time you will be able to inhale for a count of 8 and exhale for a count of 8.  If you notice any feelings of constriction, tightness, or anxiety, slow down the breath and lengthen your exhale.  To begin, 5 rounds of Alternate Nostril Breath daily is a complete practice.  If you suffer from anxiety or high levels of stress this practice could be done when you are feeling like you need a time out and  as start and finish to your day.

    Meditation:

    I am sure by now you have come across a study, article, or been advised by your MD to take up Meditation to improve your health and reduce stress.  There are numerous ways to meditate and the key to success is to find a style that resonates with you.  Meditation was very hard for me to be open to in the beginning.  I started out with a goal of 10 minutes per day.  About 5-7 minutes in I was fidgeting all around, looking at my watch, and my mind was going crazy.  I couldn’t wait for my buzzer to ring so I could move on with my day and tackle my to do list.  I started meditation when I was in my yoga teacher training class because we were required to and I am a compliant student.  I completed my assignment daily and began to notice the benefits.  The days that my meditation practice didn’t occur I noticed that my mood was not as pleasurable.  I also noticed that I was actually more creative and productive on days when I took the time to meditate.  I think a big key in building a successful meditation practice is that you must be compassionate with yourself and learn not to place judgement on whether or not today’s meditation was “successful”.  I can teach you my meditation techniques and I can also direct you to some excellent meditation teachers and cd’s to use.

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