Ancient Breathing Exercise to Relieve Stress

Ancient Breathing Exercise

We came across this ancient breathing exercise today on MindBodyGreen, and just had to share it! On some level, everyone is affected by stress and negative energy. Absolutely everyone. When we find ourselves overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, we cannot be productive, cannot find focus and just feel unhappy. And regardless of how many times we tell ourselves not to stress, it somehow seems to find us—one way or another.

A build up of stress and negative energy can actually weaken your body and its natural defense system, leading to you feeling run down or even getting sick. There are many powerful crystals for stress relief and they provide a wonderful way to relieve stress naturally. Some of the best crystals for stress relief are Blue Lace Agate, Hematite, Aquamarine and Rose Quartz.

Along with your use of crystals, try this yogic breathing technique known in Sanskrit as Nadi Shodhan Pranayama. It has been used for centuries as one of the most effective breathing exercises for stress relief. The name in Sanskrit translates to:

Nadi – a channel or energy pathway through which the breath flows.
Shodhan – defined as cleansing and/or purifying.
Pranayama – an extension of the life force, (prana) in particular, the breath.

This ancient breathing exercise helps to calm your mind, soothe anxiety, clear your mind and balance the left and right sides of your brain. It can also help you to sleep better, feel more relaxed and be more present in your life. Remaining present helps you to find more focus.

Here is exactly how you practice Nadi Shodhan Pranayama, according to Johann Helf’s article on MindBodyGreen:

1. Find a convenient location in your home or outdoors where you won’t be interrupted. Sit tall and comfortably, but careful to maintain relaxed shoulders and facial muscles. This is one of the challenges of any yoga position  to be focused, yet relaxed.

2. Softly place your left hand on your left thigh with palm up toward the ceiling. It is your choice if you want to make a mudra, by lightly touching your thumb and index finger at the tips in a very loose OK sign (this is known as chin mudra).

3. Close your eyes.

4. With your right hand, place the tips your index finger and middle finger gently between your eyebrows. Then place your ring finger and little finger on your left nostril and your thumb on your right nostril.

5. To begin the breathing exercise, lightly press your thumb down to close the right nostril and exhale a long, slow, and unforced breath through your left nostril.

6. Now breathe in from the same side (your left nostril).

7. Then press your left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger while releasing your thumb from the right nostril. Exhale through your right nostril.

8. Then breathe in from your right nostril.

9. Continue exhaling then inhaling from alternate sides using your fingers to close each nostril.

Complete the exercise 9 times. Remember to exhale and then inhale through the same nostril, before switching sides.

You may feel a strange sensation as your physical and mental tightness from stress begins to melt away. The more you use pranayama, the better you become at staying in the moment and reaping its benefits. While eating healthy and getting a variety of exercise can help you cope more successfully with everyday stress, this simple breathing exercise can give you an extra boost that can sustain you in the long run.

Alternate side nostril breathing will help you harness the power of your breath and bring the channels of your life force, or prana, into perfect harmony.

Here’s a video to help guide you through the technique from Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living program.

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