Pranayama is the science of controlling the breath. But if we look at the Sanskrit word a little closer we can see it is made up of two words: Prana – meaning life force and Yama meaning death. So it is often interpreted to mean the cessation of breath. That that is the goal of Pranayama – that your breath will stop for long periods – totally stilling the mind.
But it can also be interpreted as Prana – lifeforce and Ayama – ever expanding. So Pranayama could also be understood to mean: the means through which you expand your life force. This makes things even more interesting! And both of these themes are at pleay in the practice of Pranayama.
There are many powerful Pranayamas to help us our spiritual path, but Alternate Nostril Breathing is by far the easiest. Not only is it very effective but also safe.
It’s very simple to do:
Using your right hand (left if your a lefty) bring the 2nd finger and the middle finger to the center of the pam of your hand. This leaves the thumb and ring finger free and extended. Put your thumb on your right nostril and the ring finger on your left nostril.
It is in this way that you will switch off between each nostril during the inhalation and exhalation.
Start by inhaling through the left nostril – always start through inhaling through the left and end by exhaling through the left nostril.
Then close off both nostrils for a moment and exhale through the right nostril, breath in through the right , close off both nostrils and exhale through the left. That is considered one alternate nostril breath.
It is good to continue like that for as many breaths as you can – anywhere from 3-108.
Over time, as you get more consistent with the practice and comfortable – you can start playing with the ratios between the inhalations and exhalations. For example breathing in for 1 count and exhaling for 2 counts.
A great Mantra that would nicely with this practice of Pranayama is:
OM HUM HANUMATE VIJAYAM
VICTORY TO THE PRANA IN ITS EVOLUTIONARY COURSE