Suffering from stress, tension and anxiety? Try these three pranayamas (breathing techniques) to restore calmness and peace of mind.
Preparation for Pranayama: Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position (sukhasana) or in lotus position (padmasana). Keep your spine straight and shoulders relaxed. You may use pillows for support if needed. If unable to sit on the floor, you may sit on a chair with your back straight. Keep your eyes closed through your practice.
Pranayama must not be practiced on a full stomach; leave a gap of at least 45 mins to an hour after eating (for Bhastrika, at least 2 hours).
Note: If you have medical conditions or are pregnant, please consult your doctor before practising any of these.
1] Bhramari Pranayama (“Bee breath”)
This pranayama enhances peace of mind, ability to concentrate, positivity and overall health.
How it’s done: Plug (block) your ears with your thumbs, placing the forefinger just over the eyebrow and the remaining three fingers gently over the eyes. Take a deep breath in and as you slowly exhale, let out a humming sound. Do it for a few minutes to find a refreshed headspace!
2] Anulom-Vilom Pranayama (“Alternate Nostril Breathing”)
This pranayama is also referred to as Nadi Shodhana i.e. cleansing or purification (shodhana) of the energy channels of the body (nadis). While the body has 72,000 nadis, the three main ones are the Ida (left/moon/feminine), Pingala (right/sun/ masculine) and Sushumna (central channel).
How it’s done: Keep your left hand loosely in our lap, palm facing upwards. Fold in the forefinger and middle finger on your right hand, keeping the other two fingers straight and close together. Start with a deep breath in.
- Close your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand and exhale slowly through the left nostril.
- Then take a deep breath in through the left nostril, keeping the right closed.
- Close the left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand and exhale through the right nostril.
- Inhale through the right nostril, keeping the left closed. Repeat from step 1.
End the pranayama with an exhalation from the left nostril.
Practice this pranayama for at least 4 mins, going up to 30 mins if desired.
3] Bhastrika Pranayama (“Bellows Breath”)
The name of this pranayama derives from the resemblance of the breathing style to the function of bellows. This technique invigorates the prana (life energy), oxygenates, rejuvenates and energises.
How it’s done: Bring together the tips of your thumb and forefinger on each hand and hold loosely on your lap with all fingers touhching (dhyana mudra). Take a breath in deeply and forcefully, filling your chest with the inhale. Do not breath from or into your stomach but concentrate on filling the lungs only. Then exhale deeply and forcefully.
Repeat for 2 minutes (up to a maximum of 5 minutes).
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