The fourth limb of Patañjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga is prānāyāma: the focus on the breath. Prānāyāma enables us to cultivate our very life force (prāna) through various techniques that teach us to relax and control our breath… creating divine conditions for health in the body and peace in the mind.
A Way to Practice Prānāyāma
In the yoga tradition, there are several prānāyāma techniques. A great one to start with is nadi shodhana, alternate nostril breathing. By breathing through each nostril, one at a time, you can train your mind to stay focused on task and calm the chatter in your head. Here’s how you do it:
- Use your thumb to block your right nostril.
- Inhale slowly through your left nostril and exhale slowly out your left nostril.
- Then block the left nostril with your ring finger.
- Inhale through your right nostril and exhale slowly out your right nostril.
- Repeat 5 to 10 cycles
Benefits of this Practice
Nadi is a Sanskrit word for 'channel' and shodhana means 'purification.' This practice is known to purify the subtle energy channels. It also lowers the heart rate and reduces stress setting your mind and body up for meditation.
Give it a try!