Using Nostril Breathing to Reduce Stress
Diaphragmatic Breathing and the Alternate Nostril Series Exercise
1. Close your eyes, then gently focus them up to a point midway between the eyebrows. Be aware of your spine, keeping it straight. Visualize a glowing silvery light radiating upwards through your spine. Strengthen this image with each long breath. Now take your right hand and block your right nostril with your thumb by pressing it against the side of your nostril, having the other fingers pointing up straight. Begin slow, long, deep breathing through the left nostril only. As you inhale, allow the belly to expand completely. Then let the breath slowly fill the lower, middle, and upper part of the lungs. As you exhale, empty the air from the top of the lungs downward, drawing the belly in towards the spine as you complete the exhale. Again inhale deeply, letting the lower abdomen expand with the breath, then filling the lower, middle and upper lungs. Exhale from the top of the lungs downward, drawing the naval to the spine as you complete the exhale. Allow each breath to become longer and deeper than the one before it. Feel each breath as it fills the body with energy, imagining each of your cells vibrating with renewed vitality. Continue for a few more minutes on your own. If your mind becomes preoccupied with thoughts, then bring your awareness to the sound of the breath as it comes in … and goes out. Listen to the breath as though you are listening to the waves of the ocean slowly coming in and going out. Watch your thoughts as though from a distance without involving yourself with them or giving them energy. Keep your awareness on the focus of the eyes upwards between the eyebrows and on the feeling and sound of the breath. Now gently inhale and straighten your spine. Hold your breath for a few seconds. Exhale. (Total is 3 minutes of left nostril breathing).
2. Relax your right hand on your knee and bring your left hand up to block the left nostril by placing your thumb against the side of the nostril. Begin slow, long, deep breathing through the right nostril. As you inhale feel the lower abdomen expanding completely and then let the breath fill the lower, middle, and upper lungs. Exhale in reverse, drawing the navel towards the spine as you complete the exhale. Notice each breath becoming longer and deeper than the one before it. Imagine you can feel the energy of the breath permeating the whole of the body, bringing vitality to each cell. Notice where you experience tension within your body and release some of it with each exhale. (Pause). Relax your shoulders … neck … jaw … and forehead. Listen to the sound of the breath and allow it to fill your awareness rather than giving energy to your thoughts. Feel the breath as it fills the lungs. Keep your awareness on the sensations within your body. Continue slow, long, deep breathing. Now inhale deeply, straighten your spine and hold your breath for a few seconds. Exhale and relax your left hand down on to your knee. (Total 3 minutes of right nostril breathing).
3. Raise your right hand and block the right nostril with your thumb. Inhale very slowly through the left nostril. Use your little finger to block off the left nostril as you exhale through the right nostril. Continue to inhale through the left … and exhale through the right. Inhale left … exhale right. Feel the abdomen fill as you inhale. Let it fall gently as you exhale. Keep your eyes gazing up between the eyebrows. Listen to the sound of the breath as though it is an ocean wave coming in … and going out. Allow the energy of the breath to fill the whole body, going particularly to those places that need healing. Relax any areas of tension. Let tension dissolve with each exhale. Now inhale deeply, straighten your spine, and hold your breath for a few seconds. Exhale and relax your hand down on to your knee. (Total 3 minutes of alternate nostril breathing).
4. Raise your left hand and block the left nostril with your thumb. Inhale slowly through the right nostril. Use your little finger to block the right nostril as you exhale through the left. Continue with slow, long deep breathing, inhaling through the right nostril … exhaling through the left. Listen to the sensations within your body. Relax any tension wherever you experience it. Expand the abdomen fully with the inhale, let it fall gently with the exhale. Keep your mind focused on the feeling and sound of the breath rather than becoming distracted by thoughts. Enjoy this long deep breathing for a little longer. Imagine that the breath is your nourishment, totally filling the whole body, healing any areas of weakness or disharmony. Now inhale, straighten your spine, and hold your breath for a few seconds. Exhale and relax your arm down. Keep your eyes closed and be still for a few seconds as you experience the benefits of this relaxation. (Total 3 minutes of alternate nostril breathing).