Guess what tattoo I have been thinking about getting? BREATHE right on my wrist. Why? Because sometimes, even when I know the importance of breath, I forget to inhale. I’ll go hours without deep breathing and I rob myself of energy, detoxification, and mental clarity. My WELL University partner and yoga instructor, Chidimma Ozor has shared some tips for getting you to fill your lungs throughout the day. Not only are these helpful in your yoga practice, they are powerful cleansing techniques that relieve stress, tension, and toxins.
Pranayama is a Sanskrit word meaning “extension of the prana or breath” or more accurately, “extension of the life force.” The word is composed of two Sanskrit words, Prāna, life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath, and “āyāma”, to extend, draw out, restrain, or control.
Alternate Nostril Breathing. This type of yogic breathing is called nadi shodhana. Nadi means “energy channel” and shodhana means “cleansing.” Nadi shodhana breath is designed to cleanse the three nadis. There are three main channels in the body for prana: one central (sushamna), one right (pingala) and one left (ida). Usually there is a difference in the energy flow between the right and left channels that shifts back and foth throughout the day. You can notice this by the difference between your left and right nostrils as you breathe. One side will be dominant for a while, and then the pattern will reverse. The alternating breath of nadi shodhana both cleanses and balances the flow between idea and pingala.
Integral yoga uses breath techniques called pranayama to cleanse also. This is an ancient tradition in yoga. Techniques such as breathing to a certain count of numbers or mantric syllables is practiced. The breath will be held for a certain count and released. Visualization may accompany breathing techniques, seeing the release of toxins and negativity with the release of air. Oxygen and breath is as basic and essential to life as food and sleep. Integral yoga followers understand the importance of breathing properly and fully to fill the lungs to capacity and to bring oxygen deep into the cells and atoms of the body. Thereby the body will be comfortable to sit and meditate.
Kriyas are cleansing methods used by yogis to cleanse the internal organs, including the sinuses, lungs, stomach, liver, intestines and colon. Neti is the method used to cleanse the sinuses. It involves using a neti pot to flush the sinuses with a mild saline solution. Next, kapalabhati, a breathing exercise, is used to cleanse the lungs and blood. It is practiced by forcefully expelling air through the nose and inhaling again, using short, quick breaths. Lastly, Nauli and Basti are methods of flushing the colon and intestines using enemas or other irrigation techniques to purge the bowels of built-up waste. Kriyas are powerful internal cleansing practices practiced regularly by serious yogis.
Kapalbhati is the yogic technique of breathing for cleansing and purification purposes. It is a powerful, involved process that is believed to cleanse the lungs, eliminate toxins, and increase oxygen absorption, allowing more toxins to be eliminated in your bloodstream.