Breathing is one of the greatest secrets of yoga. If you practice it with sincerity, you will obtain healing powers beyond your imagination.

Here are four breathing practices, that when done in contiuous succession and in combination with one another, create the effects of calming, energizing, confidence building and balancing—to essentially rearrange your mental, emotional and physiological structure.

Yes, they are that powerful.

A brief note on nostril dominance:

For centuries, yogis have observed that throughout the day, regular changes occur in airflow dominance between the right and left nostrils, dramatically affecting how we think and feel. Every few hours, we breathe predominantly through one nostril more than the other and, as the airflow oscillates, it creates rhythmic changes throughout the body-mind.

Recent scienrtific studies show that cardiovascular activity, cognition, the autonomic nercous system, concentrations of pituitary hormones, and even insulin levels are affected by nostril dominance.

In this exercise, control of the nostrils comes from using a hand position known as murgi mudra, or the deer mudra. Create this mudra by bending your index finger and third finger to touch your palm. It does look like a deer (see photo). Use the thumb and ring finger of your right hand to control the flow of air through your nostrils. Regulate your breathing by using gentle pressure, placing your thumb and ring finger on the narrowest part of the nasal passage, right where the cartilage begins. Use the pad of the thumb and the pad of the ring finger to seal or valve the nostrils.

During this technique, one nostril is sealed down at the flap of the nostril and the other is valved lightly at the upper part of the cartilage. When the seal is down, the valve is up, always creating some light pressure on both nostrils.

 

Practice the following exercises in a seated position. (Doing all four techniques will take about 10 minutes.)

      1. Chandra Bhedana – for cooling with the moon

Close your right nostril with your right thumb, using the deer mudra had position. Inhave through your left nostril, slowly, deeply and fully. Close your left nostril the the ring and little fingers and exhale through your right nostril. Repeat for four to six breaths. Continue to breathe somoothly and easily.

      2. Ujjayi Pranayama – the “whispering breath”

Bring your hand down. Keep your mouth closed and breathe through both nostrils while you create a soft whispering sound by breathing from the back of your throat (without vocalizing). It sounds smooth and light, a rishing sound, like the wind through the trees. Keep this air sound going softly, both on your inhalation and exhalation. Repeat for four to six breaths.

     3. Surya Bhedana – for warming with the sun

Close your left nostril with the ring and little fingers of your right hand. Inhale through your right nostril, slowly, deeply and fully. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through your left nostril. Repeat for four to six breaths. Continue to breathe smoothly and easily.

     4. Nadi Shodhana – balancing with the sun and the moon

Close your right nostril with you thumb, and exhale through your left nostril. Then inhale through your left nostril. Close your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril. Then inhale through your right nostril. Close your right nostril again, and repeat the cycle. Exhale left, and inhale left. Then close. Exhale right, inhale right. Then close. Every time you complete exhaling and inhaling on both sides, you have completed one cycle of the practice. Repeat for two full cycles.

Feel the silence. And when you are ready, repeat this phrase (internally) without vocalizing. Slowly repeat: “I am open to all possibilities.” Pause for a moment or two. Then repeat this phrase again, inside yourself. “I am open to all possibilities.” Pause for another moment.

Stay there with your eyes closed, and then, feel the silence. And be in that silence.

After you have finished, you may stay seated for a while or lie down and rest with your eyes closed, having a relaxed, alert awareness.