Start Your Day Clear and Calm: Morning Pranayama
In yoga philosophy, it’s believed that there is prana (energy or lifeforce) that runs through our bodies and the way this prana travels through our body is through pathways, referred to in Sanskrit as ‘nadis’. It’s also believed that pranayama (breathing) practices have a direct effect on the flow of energy in the body.
Using pranayama, we can arouse or calm energy to produce inner heat or cooling. But as in so many other practices of yoga, pranayama first focuses on purification – to cleanse the body of impurities that might prevent or limit the natural movement of prana.
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is a great breathing exercise to reduce stress and anxiety which, let’s face it, all of us could benefit from right now. This practice is also known to increase focus, great for those of us working from home and struggling to concentrate. It can be practiced at any time of day but personally I really like to do this when I first wake up, before my asana practice.
- Find somewhere quiet and make your way into a comfortable seated position – I like sukhasana (easy cross-legged position)
- Before you begin, take a full breath in both nostrils and a full breath out both nostrils, checking that both nasal passages are clear before initiating nadi shodhana.
- If they are clear, place your left hand on your left knee and lift your right hand up toward your nose and rest your index and middle finger of this hand onto the space in between your eyebrows, keeping your thumb and ring and pinky fingers free
- Take an inhale and then on the exhale use your right thumb to close your right nostril.
- Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your ring finger
- Open the right nostril and exhale through this side.
- Inhale through the right nostril and then close this nostril.
- Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.
- This is one cycle.
- Continue in this way, focus on keeping the breath slow, smooth and continuous.
- After about five cycles, let the breath return to normal and sit in silence for a minute or two before carrying on with the rest of your day.
This is a simple and effective tool to help bring a little bit of calm and focus to your day when you need it most.
Louise is a yoga teacher and an experienced brand manager and creative producer. She has more than 10 years of experience working both in-house for lululemon and Red Bull as well as agency side for Apple, to name a few. She is a certified vinyasa yoga teacher, teaching public and private classes (currently online) and also collaborates and consults wellbeing and lifestyle brands. Louise also writes a weekly email called ‘Purpose Break’ where she offers ideas for how to spend a break that’s more than just a caffeine hit. To keep up with what Louise is up to, follow her on Instagram or check out her website.