Balance for Spring…The Yoga Way!

By Claire Diab and Dennis Boyle

The season of spring brings an abundance of enlivening energy. A good practice is to cleanse and balance to prepare for the season so that you are not swept away. Yoga can exercise the body AND mind to create emotional well-being to keep us grounded. The practice of yoga is not limited to physical movements; it also includes breath.

If we can learn to control our breath, we can calm our minds … breath sets our mind in motion.  There are many Pranayama, or breathing practices, in yoga that offer various techniques to control the breath. They can unblock and balance our energy.

Today, take a moment for yourself and practice Nadi Shodhanam (NAH-DEE SHOW-DAH-NAH), or Alternate Nostril Breathing.

This powerful breathing technique balances the hemispheres of the brain, creating peace and clarity in the mind. It relaxes and revitalizes the body and mind and helps to develop concentration and clarity.

 

Instructions

  1. Begin by sitting comfortably; if in a chair, rest your feet on the ground or cross them at the ankles.  Be sure you are sitting up straight and your shoulders are back and down away from your ears, giving your lungs plenty of room to expand.
  2. Bring the right index and middle ring fingers together.  Place these fingers in between your eyebrows.
  3. Use your right thumb to close your right nostril and slowly draw your breath in through your left nostril.
  4. Hold your breath for a moment, closing off both nostrils (use your ring and small finger to close your left nostril).
  5. Release the right thumb, and exhale through your right nostril, keeping the left side closed.
  6. Inhale through the right nostril, keeping the left closed with your ring and small finger.
  7. Hold the breath, closing off both nostrils.
  8. Release your ring and small finger to release through the left nostril, keeping your thumb on your right nostril.
  9. Begin inhaling through your left nostril.

Steps 3-8 complete one cycle; repeat this process 2-7 times.  Use a smooth, steady, and subtle breath.  Relax into the rhythm without forcing or straining.  Listen to your body for the right rhythm of inhaling, holding, and exhaling; it will vary from person to person and from day to day.

Please Note: Holding the breath should be minimized or omitted for those with untreated high blood pressure, abdominal inflammation, lung conditions,  or hernias or for those who are pregnant.

You can use this breath throughout the day, upon waking or before bed, to create peace, balance, and calmness.  Use it to clarify the mind, clear tension and stress, help you to relax, and just be.

 

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself” – Zen proverb

 


Claire Diab is an internationally recognized Yoga therapist. She is the director of the Yoga Program for the Chopra Center founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon. She is an adjunct professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University. She is the author of several books and DVDs on Yoga including “Yoga For Firefighters.”

 

 

Dennis Boyle is a retired fire director and acting chief with the West Orange (NJ) Fire Department. He was the recipient of the 1999 New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs “Fire Officer of the Year” award.

 

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