Breathing

Another important facet in finding a way to experience living in harmony is via our breath.

From the day we are born, to the day we die, the one thing that never leaves us is our breath. And yet, very few people actually ever breathe consciously. One way to calm the mind is to … yes… breathe.

Breath is like a bridge between our body and our mind. All bodily processes run more efficiently when the oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle in the body is balanced. The mind is calmer when our breathing is balanced. Breathing right plays an important role in keeping our body and mind in harmony with our being.

If you like, here’s a simple experiment you can try, to prove this connection between mind, breath and body to yourself.  The next time your mind is anxious, or your thoughts are racing, consciously slow down your breathing. Your thoughts and your mind will slow down in direct proportion to your breathing slowing down. Although there are many breathing techniques taught by various systems, we will cover just a couple of them.

Please see our resources section for additional information on breathing techniques for Living Unbound. And as always, you are welcome to send suggestions to Living Unbound regarding any other websites, books, videos or other information, that might help the Living Unbound community.

Spinal Breathing Pranayama

One very powerful and effective breathing technique, which can be combined with daily meditation, is called Spinal Breathing Pranayama. It is described in Advanced Yoga Practices  Lesson 41 – Pranayama – Spinal Breathing :

Sit comfortably with back support, and close your eyes just as you do when you meditate. Now, keeping your mouth closed, breathe in and out slowly and deeply through your nose, but not to the extreme. Be relaxed and easy about it, breathing as slowly and deeply as possible without discomfort. There is no need to be heroic. Work your muscles so each breath begins in your belly and fills you up through your chest to the top of your collarbones, and then comes back down slowly. Next, with each rising inhalation of the breath, allow your attention to travel upward inside a tiny thread, or tube, you visualize beginning at your perineum, continuing up through the center of your spine, and up through the stem of your brain to the center of your head. At the center of your head the tiny nerve makes a turn forward to the point between your eyebrows. With one slow, deep inhalation let your attention travel gradually inside the nerve from the perineum all the way to the point between the eyebrows. As you exhale, retrace this path from the point between the eyebrows all the way back down to the perineum. Then, come back up to the point between the eyebrows with the next inhalation, and down to the perineum with the next exhalation, and so on.

This practice is very powerful, and it is important to practice it as described in the lesson for 5 or 10 minutes, just before one of your daily meditation sessions. Please read the rest of the lesson for complete instructions. There are also various additions that can be incorporated into to this practice; these are explained in detail in the subsequent lessons in  the AYP Main Lessons.

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Alternate Nostril Breathing

The second breathing technique we’ll discuss is called alternate nostril breathing or Anulom Vilom Pranayam, also known as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama .

It is a very simple, proven technique and can be practiced even by children.

  • Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  • Close your right nostril with your right thumb.
  • Inhale very slowly through your left nostril.
  • Breathe in naturally, until your lungs feel full, without any strain.
  • Now close your left nostril with the little finger and ring finger.
  • Exhale through your right nostril, very slowly.
  • Exhale for as long as possible, and empty the lungs as much as you can, without any strain.
  • Keep your left nostril closed.
  • Inhale very slowly through your right nostril, until your lungs are full, without any strain.
  • Close your right nostril with your thumb.
  • Exhale very slowly through your left nostril.
  • This completes one round of Alternate Nostril Breathing.

In the beginning, do 10-20 rounds of this technique, and then gradually increase the time spent in practicing this technique, as feels comfortable.

Important pointers:

  • Do not hold your breath on purpose during any of your breathing practices. After a while, a natural pause in your breathing may happen between the in breath and out breath, this is fine.
  • To get the best results from any breathing practices, always try to do a session of meditation immediately after the breathing practice.
  • Start short sessions, and very gradually increase the time spent doing this practice.
  • Do not spend more than 10 minutes, twice per day (not more than 20 minutes, total) doing the breathing practices.
  • Remember the harmonious cycle of Living Unbound? We are bringing natural harmony in our lives, and so, we spend just a bit of time each day in our breathing practices and meditation, and then go out and live our lives.

PLEASE NOTE:

Please pick and practice any one technique of breathing and one technique of mediation. Stick to it for a while before trying any new techniques. “A while” means several weeks, at minimum. As with physical exercise, “jumping around” too much can dilute any benefits you will otherwise experience.

In the beginning it may seem like nothing much is happening. It takes a bit of time to settle into any one practice, so give yourself some time before you decide the practice is not for you. You may want to try different techniques to see what works best for you, but again: please give each one a reasonable trial; a few weeks, at minimum.

Also, if you do try the Spinal Breathing Pranayama and/or Deep Meditation practices from Advanced Yoga Practices (AYP), there is a wonderful support forum that can help answer any questions you may have on these practices, and/or yoga and meditation, in general.

Teachings:

Resources: