We're continuing our exploration of the 8 Limbs of Yoga for Yoga Sunday today! "Pranayama" is yogic breathwork. The Sanskrit word "prana" means "energy", "life force", or "breath" and Sanskrit "yama" means "control" or "restraint." Various pranayama breath exercises are used to produce different results. Some calm the mind, some create a feeling of vigorous energy throughout the body, some expand the lungs, etc. There are many different pranayamas to experiment with and explore. I found that incorporating daily Pranayama into my life really impacted my Asana practice in a positive way! The breath is the life force of the body!
The video below demonstrates the Pranayama called "Nadi Shodhana" or "Alternate Nostril Breathing." This Pranayama has many benefits, including balancing out the body's two opposite energy channels (the masculine and the feminine), pacifying the mind, and reducing stress and anxiety. It's helpful to practice Nadi Shodhana when you're feeling anxious or having trouble falling asleep. To do so, begin with the left nostril open, closing off the right with your thumb. Inhale for 8 counts through the left nostril then close it and exhale for 8 counts out of the right nostril. Inhale for 8 counts through the right nostril then close it switch to the left. Exhale for 8. Continue this for a few minutes, keeping the count breath even and balanced on an 8-count or extending both the inhales and exhales longer if you can. End by exhaling through the left nostril then return to your normal breathing. Simple as that! Give it a try!