Typically we use breathing techniques to help reduce stress and calm our minds.  But breathing exercises are also a great way to give you a boost of energy.  So the next time your energy is low and you don’t have time to get a cup of coffee, try a little pranayama---the 4th limb of the 8 Limbs of Yoga.  Pranayama is Sanskrit and means to control the breath, our life force.   

The technique

In the yoga tradition there are several pranayama techniques that teach us to use our breath to cultivate health in the body and peace in the mind. The methods that are focused on increasing oxygen flow in your blood are especially helpful to jump start your energy and clear the clouds in your mind. A popular one, called bhastrika in Sanskrit, is sometimes referred to as “sniffing dog.” That’s is nickname because that is exactly what it resembles! 

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Sit up tall in a comfortable position.  If in a chair, make sure your feet rest firmly on the ground.
  2. Take a deep breath in through your nose.
  3. Exhale forcefully through your nose and then quickly inhale forcefully through your nose.  Repeat this cycle of breathing in and out your nose at a rapid pace.  You know you’re doing it correctly if you feel like a sniffing dog!
  4. Try this for 30 breaths, then pause and take a few deep breaths.
  5. Complete a total of 3 rounds of 30 breaths each.

If you feel light headed with this breathing exercise simply stop and return to your normal breathing until the feeling subsides.  But don’t give up!  Try it again with a slightly slower pace to your breath. 

You can practice this method throughout the day when you need that little boost. Enjoy the benefits of more energy without the caffeine or sugar high!

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