We need food and water to sustain life, but more essential to us than either is the breath, the real food of life. It has been said that we are what we eat, but if you change the way you breathe you change the person you are. For example, if you are frightened your breath will become shallow. This is called clavicular breathing. We respond to the breath and the breath responds to us. Conscious control of the breath is an essential part of yogic practice. The breath contains prana, or Life force, which determines the energetic radiance, the physical health, and psychological well-being of a person. The science of yogic breathing technique is to balance energize, modify, and heal (Always in and out through the nose).
Long Deep Breathing
Relax your neck and shoulders as you inhale long, slow and deep into the abdomen. As your abdomen expands and fills allow your chest to rise and fully receive complete breath. As you begin to exhale let your chest deflate before pulling your naval back towards your spine expelling all the air. Continue this pattern. Place your palm on your abdomen and feel it expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale. Lying on your back may make this easier to begin with. This breath pattern promotes calmness, gentle euphoria, and patience. This effect of the rhythmic breathing including changes in brain wave pattern is well know. If you slow the breath down to 8 breaths per minute you move into a meditative state. Slow the breath down to 6 per minute. The Pituitary gland will be stimulated. If you slow the breath down to 4 breaths per minute or less, the Pineal gland activates the Crown Chakra.
Breath of Fire
This is powerful deep breaths done every 2 or 3 seconds. You pull your naval in sharply expelling air. The lungs then automatically inflate as your naval is released. Focus on the EXAHLE. At first don’t try too go too fast, too soon. Practice this first on your back and ensure that your naval rises with the in-breath and falls with the out-breath.
BreathingWe automatically breathe through alternate nostrils, changing the primary nostril every one to two hours. Breathing through the RIGHT nostril stimulates the LEFT side of the brain and activates your Sun energy. Breathing through the LEFT nostril stimulates the RIGHT side of the brain and activates the MOON energy. The nostrils are the gateway of your Pranic Body, through which the prana is directed into your body. The RIGHT nostril accesses the Pingala, the positive Nadi that determines your receptivity and Calms you down.