What are Breathing Techniques?
Breathing techniques are patterns of breathing that deepen our usually shallow breathing to bring in much more oxygen. This feeds the brain and body and activates the parasympathetic nervous system –for relaxation (the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system – fight or flight).
There are many types of breathing techniques, many of which come from Yoga. The science of pranayama is a whole branch of Yoga dealing solely with breathing techniques. Prana is the energy of the Universe – like Qi in Qigong or Tai Chi. Alternate nostril breathing is one pranayama technique:
1. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Do this to the count of four.
2. Immediately close the left nostril with your right
ring finger and little finger, and at the same time remove your
thumb from the right nostril, and exhale through this nostril.
Do this to the count of eight. This completes a half round.
3. Inhale through the right nostril to the count of
four. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale
through the left nostril to the count of eight. This completes
one full round.
Start by doing three rounds, adding one per week until
you are doing seven rounds. Alternate nostril breathing should
not be practiced if you have a cold or if your nasal passages
are blocked in any way. Forced breathing through the nose may
lead to complications. In breathing practices it is important
to follow this rule: under no circumstances should anything be
forced. If you use the nostrils for breath control they must be
unobstructed. If they are not, you must practice throat breathing.
1. The exercise produces optimum function in both sides
of the brain: that is optimum creativity and optimum logical verbal
activity. This also creates a more balanced person, since both
halves of the brain are functioning property.
2. The yogis consider this to be the best technique
to calm the mind and the nervous system.
Prannic breathing is another technique that I have used for most of the past 37 years. I practice frequently in the morning before I get up. I find it gives me a lot of energy, and warms my body – especially nice on cold winter mornings!!!