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Preparing to Meditate: Alternate Nostril Breathing

Preparing to Meditate: Alternate Nostril Breathing

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Breathing exercise
Breathing exercise

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Published by: Mind Yourself Chicago on Sep 08, 2011
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Preparing to Meditate: Alternate Nostril Breathing
There are only two difficulties on the path of meditation. One is the egoand the second is the constantly chattering mind. Alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana pranayama) is considered to be essential inpreparing the body and mind for meditation. The alternating of nostrils while breathing allows for purification of the nadis (ida and pingalaprimarily) so prana can flow freely through the body. The ability to directthe flow of prana is a fundamental outcome of the yoga practice. Withoutdeveloping this ability, the benefits of yogaremain similar to any otherform of physical or mental exercise.Practicing this breathing exercise brings clarity, balance and calmness tothe mind and emotions. It may also be referred to as sun and moon breathor heating and cooling breath because of the internal effects it has on the body and mental activity. For example, during the heating or sun (rightnostril) cycle one may experience an increase in the body temperature andon the cooling or moon (left nostril) cycle the body cools and mentalactivity slows down.
 
 Alternate nostril breathing should not be practiced if you have a cold ornasal congestion. It should also be practiced responsibly and not in excess.It is best to practice under the direction of a yoga instructor or moreexperienced practitioner. If you plan to practice on your own, alternatenostril breathing should be done after you have become comfortable withthe  beginning breathing exercise.
Nadi shodhana pranayama: alternate nostril breathing exercise
Rule to remember: Always alternate nostrils when the lungs are filled afterinhaling and never when the lungs are empty after the exhaling breath.In a comfortable seated position, place your hands in jnana mudra (indexfinger touching the thumb and other three fingers extended). Maintaining jnana mudra, use the middle finger of your right hand to close the rightnostril. Breathe in completely with a deep inhale in the left nostril. With your lungs filled, hold the air just long enough to move your righthand (still in jnana mudra) to obstruct the left nostril.Exhale completely through the right nostril (do not hold the breath at theend of the exhale).Inhale completely through the right nostril (see rule to remember). With your lungs filled, hold the air just long enough to move your righthand (still in jnana mudra) to obstruct the right nostril.Continue this for 3-5 breaths on each nostril, comfortably, withoutexaggeration.The alternate nostril breathing exercise can be practiced using breathingrhythms. The rhythm of 1-4-2 is best for this exercise. Meaning if youinhale in 2 seconds, hold for 8 seconds and exhale in 4 seconds (noretention of breath on the exhale). Enjoy this breathing exercise and itseffects. Take the necessary precautions and perform this breathing exerciseresponsibly (sober, without congestion and within a consistent yoga

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