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Every cell in our bodies needs oxygen to function properly. Ever notice how soothing a simple sigh can be at the end of a long day? There are a variety of breathing techniques that are known to reduce stress, aid in digestion, improve sleep, and cool you down. Here are instructions on four pranayama exercises worth practicing and the most beneficial times to do them.

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How to do it : Nadhi sodhana can be done seated or lying down. To start, empty all the air from your lungs. Using the thumb of your dominant hand, block your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril only. Be sure to inhale into your belly, not your chest. Once you are full of breath, seal your left nostril with the ring finger of the same hand, keeping your right nostril closed, and hold the breath for a moment. Then release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril only. Be sure to exhale all the breath out of the right side and pause before inhaling again through the same side.

A complete cycle of breath includes an inhalation and exhalation through both nostrils. Perform up to ten cycles and notice how your body responds.

Simple Effective Breathing Technique for Anxiety, Depression & Stress, Prana, Pranyama

You may feel more relaxed and calm in both your mind and body. When to do it : Nadhi sodhana is a calm, soothing breath that can be done any time of day.


Try practicing this technique when you are anxious, nervous, or having trouble falling asleep. Kapalabhati means skull shining breath. Practitioners of kapalabhati believe that this breath will help clear mucus in the air passages, relieve congestion, reduce bloating, and improve lung capacity. Kapalabhati is an invigorating breath that can build heat in the body. How to do it : Start by sitting in a comfortable seat with a tall, straight spine, and exhale completely.

Inhale briefly through both nostrils, then sharply exhale again out of your nose while pulling your navel in toward your spine. The exhalation is short and quick, but very active, while the inhalation is short and passive. Again, pull your navel in as you exhale and soften it on the inhalation. Do one round of 30 counting your exhalations and rest for a minute with some deep breaths in between.

If this seems strenuous, start with 15 and gradually work your way up. Avoid this technique if you are pregnant, or suffer from blood pressure issues or heart conditions.

The Little Book of Yoga Breathing: Pranayama Made Easy. . . by Scott Shaw

This breath is often used in asana posture practice, especially in ashtanga and vinyasa classes. Ujjayi encourages full expansion of the lungs, and, by focusing your attention on your breath, it can assist in calming the mind. How to do it: Find a place where you can sit comfortably with a straight spine. Take a steady breath in through both nostrils. Inhale until you reach your lung capacity; maintain a tall spine.

Hold your breath for a second, then constrict some of the breath at the back of your throat, as if you were about to whisper a secret, and exhale slowly through both nostrils. This exhalation will sound like an ocean wave or gentle rush of air. You should feel the air on the roof of your mouth as you exhale.

Repeat up to 20 times. When to do it: This breath can be practiced for up to 10 minutes at any time of day. Try it with an asana practice as well. Sitali also means cooling, which explains the effect it can have on your mind and body. This breath encourages clearing heat with coolness. I describe it as feeling centered. This is a simplified adaptation from the book Science of Breath.

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Here is my favorite video tutorial on Sitali:. I hope you gained some benefit from these breathing techniques. Control over the breath truly is one of the major factors in achieving a healthy lifestyle and cultivating more presence in your life. If you are someone who is active by nature, you will find that these exercises give you just enough stimulation to enticed you to continue.

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Consciousness…is nothing jointed; it flows. In talking of it hereafter, let us call it the stream of thought, of consciousness, or of subjective life. A key tenet of many meditation practices is to allow your thoughts to course like a stream. As a thought floats by, your job is to recognize that you had a thought, and then to let that thought continue to flow past you without giving it permission to consume you.

Stream-of-consciousness writing may be the perfect tool to train your mind to behave more like the meandering stream and less like a whirlpool or dried-up creek bed. Because writing allows for only one word to go onto the page at a time, it is almost impossible for your thoughts to take any other fluid form besides a stream.

In the following exercises, I recommend starting by reading the stream of consciousness prose of others. Stream of consciousness as an accepted narrative structure has been around since the late 19th century.

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Each takes a slightly different approach. Some works contain an actual plot, others can be quite complex and include obscure references, and still others are less structured and simply provide a snapshot of a moment in time. The purpose of this exercise is not to burden yourself with a massive novel or complex plot, so I recommend you start with Jack Kerouac. Here is a passage from Dharma Bums to get you started:. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify by their own lonesome familiarities to this feeling.

Ecstasy, even, I felt, with flashes of sudden remembrance, and feeling sweaty and drowsy I felt like sleeping and dreaming in the grass.

How to Practice Three-Part Breath in Yoga

The instructions are to write three pages freehand. Write in a stream of consciousness, capturing whatever thoughts come into your head. For most people, this takes about 30 minutes. Many of the additional instructions focus on trying to help you avoid censoring or critiquing your writing. For example, Cameron recommends not going back to reread your journals, because that prompts many people to try to write things that would be worth rereading later.

My experience with the Morning Pages exercise has been unbelievable. By writing down anything and everything that my mind invents about a specific challenge in real time and without censorship , I miraculously gain clarity. I suspect that the power of Morning Pages lies in the fact that writing down these thoughts makes them solid and tangible. Must you write by hand? Cameron says yes:. When we write by hand, we connect to ourselves.

We may get speed and distance when we type, but we get a truer connection — to ourselves and our deepest thoughts — when we actually put pen to page.