Breathing is a natural subconscious action. For many of us, we only become aware of our breathing if something is amiss. We exercise or exert ourselves until we “lose our breath” and if we are congested we can hardly breath through our nose. I have come to learn in my yoga practice various breathing techniques called pranayama. I want to share with you some of these techniques which involve breathing in through the nostrils.
So why Breathe through those nose holes?
1. Yogis do it!
Most all traditional practices of yoga practice breathing exclusively through the nose. It requires more concentration to focus and steady your breath through the nose which is beneficial in staying mindful through a yoga or meditative practice.
2. More efficient for heart and lungs.
You create healthy resistance in your heart and lungs exhaling out of your nose because the nostrils are small.
3. Keeps your body warmer.
As you breathe in through the nose, your nasal cavities filter and warm the air generating healthy heat for your muscles.
Nostril Pranayama (breathing techniques):
These 3 techniques all relate to regulating our energy or “prana.” The right nostril is associated with the sun and a rise in energy. The left nostril is associated with the moon and a calming energy. When breathing through a single nostril, use your thumb to close your right side and your pinky and index finger to close the left side.
1. Surya Bhedana (Sun-piercing)
This technique is practiced by inhaling through the right nostril while blocking off the left and then exhaling through the left nostril while blocking off the right.
The effect of this breath is a rise in your right side pranic energy resulting in higher energy levels and a more alert state of mind. This can be beneficial in helping the body to wake up for the task at hand.
2. Chandra Bhedana (Moon-piercing)
This technique is practiced by inhaling through the left nostril while blocking off the right and then exhaling through the right nostril while blocking off the left.
The effect of this breath is an activation of your left pranic energy resulting in energy levels to calm making you more relaxed. This can be beneficial in cooling down and centering oneself.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhan Pranayama)
This technique is simply combining the two techniques mentioned above:
Begin by blocking the right nostril and inhaling through the left. Then block the left nostril to exhale out of the right nostril. Now keep the left side blocked and inhale through the right and exhale through the left. This is one full cycle. Start out with 2 cycles if you have not practiced this before, and add more when you feel comfortable.
The effect of alternating these breathing techniques is to balance out your prana. It helps to release stress and calm the mind. This is great to practice to center your thoughts before meditation.