Yogic Breathing exercises also known as ‘Pranayama’
Regular practise of breathing techniques cleanses and strengthens the lungs & nasal passages, and the entire respiratory system. It drains the sinuses, removes bronchial congestion and excess mucus, purifying the blood and increasing the supply of oxygen to the cells, which has a positive effect on the mind making it calm and steady.
Kapalabhati cleanses the nasal passages, bronchial tubes, lungs and respiratory system. It strengthens the intercostals (ribcage) muscles and creates an increased supply of the prana (life force) which is stored in the solar plexus region.
Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing) cleanses, strengthens and harmonises the entire system. Breath retention heightens the rate of gaseous exchange in the lungs so more oxygen goes from the lungs into the blood and more CO2 (and other waste products) pass from the blood into the lungs for elimination during exhalation.
Most people have forgotten how to breathe and do what is called shallow breathing through the mouth and only use a fraction of their lung capacity with shoulders hunched.
There are three types of breathing.
1. Clavicular (shallow)
2. Intercostal (middle)
3. Abdominal (deep)
A full yogic breath combines all three
Yogic breathing (pranayama) using a full yogic breath revitalises the body, balances the emotions and clears the mind.
Kapalabhati (meaning shining skull) is a purification practise which clears the lungs of stale air and increases the amount of oxygen in the body which clears the mind and improves concentration. The rapid forced exhalation and inhalations tone the stomach, heart and liver. *Kapalabhati should never be practised when pregnant or an asthmatic attack is in progress*
One round of Kapalabhati
Inhale, exhale one normal breath,
Inhale, now exhale pulling in your abdomen, inhale relaxing the abdomen.
Repeat 20 times using a steady rhythm emphasizing the rapid forced exhalation.
Inhale completely and then hold your breath as long as comfortably possible, slowly exhale. Repeat 2 more rounds and over time increase the pumping to 60 times per round.
Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing) strengthens the lungs and respiratory system, balancing and restoring an equal flow of the prana (life force energy)throughout the body. Practise daily at least 10 rounds.
One round of Anuloma Viloma:
Place right hand in Visnu Mudra (index & middle finger folded forward)
Place left hand in Chin Mudra (tip of thumb and index finger lightly touching)
1. Breathe in through left nostril closing right nostril with thumb to a count of 4
2. Hold the breath, closing both nostrils to a count of 16
3. Breathe out of the right nostril, closing the left nostril with ring and little finger to a count of 8
4. Breathe in through the right nostril, keeping left nostril closed with ring and little finger, to a count of 4.
5. Hold the breathe, closing both nostrils to a count of 16
6. Breathe out of the left nostril, keeping the right closed with the thumb to a count of 8.
Jala Neti – Yogic Cleansing Technique
Sinus infections are now quite common amongst thousands of people and many also have Asthma or allergies to dust, pollen and pollution from the atmosphere.
The nose regulates the temperature and humidity of incoming air.
The tiny hairs known as cilia are the nasals defence mechanism for trapping particles of dirt and bacteria.
The entire nasal passage is covered with a fine layer of mucus also designed to trap dirt and particles. This is usually removed by blowing the nose but sometimes the nasal passages become blocked and clogged.
The sinus passages also act as a filtering mechanism and if infected will secrete a runny mucus to try to cleanse out the germs.
Practising daily cleansing with a neti pot will cleanse the nose, nasal passages and sinus cavities.
To perform the nasal cleansing you will need a solution made from half a teaspoon of sea salt and half a pint of lukewarm water.
Use clean filtered water (as tap water contains many impurities) and dissolve the salt first with a little boiling water and then top up with cold to get the desired temperature. The water should not be too hot or cold so test it before you begin.
· Fill the neti pot with the solution and then stand over a wash hand basin.
· Tip your head forward and to the RH side. Insert the spout into the left nostril making sure it is a tight fit
· Tip the jug to pour the water into the nostril. The water will flow out of the right nostril.
· Blow your nose if required and then repeat on the other side.
Cleanse before practising Yoga breathing techniques as it is important that the breath flows freely during the practise and that the nostrils are clean and clear.
Relaxation and meditation techniques also require an unobstructed and free flow of the breath to ensure an abundant supply of oxygen at the right temperature to stimulate relaxation.