In yoga, we learn how to control our heart rate and blood pressure through various breathing techniques
The ancient yogis said we were born with a limited number of breaths, so each breath in and out should be long and slow. In yoga, we learn how to control our heart rate and blood pressure through various breathing techniques — some are relaxing and calming; others energizing.
Try a calming breath exercise called “alternate nostril breathing” when you are feeling anxious, prior to work that requires concentration or creativity, or before you go to bed. You may find it is a simple method of creating a calm and focused mind.
Begin in a comfortable seated position. Take a few deep breaths to encourage your mind and body to relax. Close your eyes to bring greater awareness to the breath and help you relax.
Hold your right hand in front of your face, hand somewhat limp and fingers relaxed. Rest the index and middle fingers between the eyebrows. Lightly place the thumb on the right nostril and the ring finger on the left. These two fingers will control the flow of the breath.
Inhale through the left nostril, gently close with the ring finger and pause. Don’t press the nostril too hard. Release the thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril; close it with the thumb and pause. Exhale through the left nostril.
This is one round. Do a few rounds at first, gradually increasing the number as you become more experienced. At the end of your practice, sit quietly for a few moments, allowing yourself to breathe normally through both nostrils. Never force the breath. Do not hold your breath if you have high blood pressure.
Benefits of alternate nostril breathing
• Releases toxins and cleanses the lungs
• Relaxes the mind and body
• Improves brain function and brings clarity
• Soothes the nervous system
• Lowers blood pressure
• Improves sleep