Prana, the Vital Life-Force
The breath is prana, or our vital life-force. Our body’s require oxygen or pranic energy and the needs of the breath change, depending on our actions. The more we move, the more oxygen is required so breathing becomes faster and more forceful. If we are relaxing, the need for this vital energy is lower and the breath relaxes and deepens. Our mental activities will also affect our breathing patterns.
As we focus on the breath, the control of breathing shifts from brain stem / medulla oblongata to cerebral cortex (evolved part of brain). Our thoughts and emotions are bypassed and the mind can experience focus, calm and awareness. As emotions arise within us, our breath shortens and become shallow, cutting off the adequate supply of oxygen to our bodies and brain. Our emotions create tension in our muscles, stiffness and blockages to the flow of Prana, anxiety and panic. Awareness of the breath helps us manage emotional disturbances and stress and releases the prana to flow freely.
Pranayama – Alternate Nostril Breath
Alternate nostril breath calms the mind and purifies the body. Your nostrils and therefore breath, are connected to the brain and the nervous system. The Left side stimulates a calming and feeling state and the Right side stimulates an energetic and thinking state. At any one time you are only breathing through one nostril, which creates disharmony in your body and mind.
In this technique you will be using your right hand.
- The index and middle finger are not used in this exercise; you can gently place these two fingers on your third eye (the space between your eyebrows) or fold them down into your palm.
- Use your thumb to block the Left nostril and baby and ring finger to block the right nostril.
- Starting the breath on the left side, gently press the right nostril closed and breathe into the left nostril to the count of three.Plug the left nostril, releasing the right nostril for the count of three. This is a half rotation completed. We will go back in the opposite direction to complete a full alternate nostril breath. After your last out-breath, gently release the right nostril (ring and baby finger)
- Release the hand and breath naturally for 2 minutes.
Practise 6-8 full rounds; left-to-right then right-to-left, Daily for the duration of your coaching.
- Week One: 3 inhale, 1 hold, 3 exhale
- Week Two: 3 inhale, 2 hold, 5 exhale
- Week Three: 5 inhale, 2 hold, 5 exhale
- Week Four: 5 inhale, 3 hold, 5 exhale
- Week Five: 5 inhale, 4 hold, 7 exhale
- Week Six: 5 inhale, 5 hold, 7 exhale
- Week Seven: 7 inhale, 5 hold, 7 exhale