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Chakra Balancing | Anuloma Viloma Pranayama
Chakra Yoga Breathing Exercise #2: Anuloma Viloma
Free Online Video of Chakra Balancing Pranayama
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Free Online Yoga Video of Chakra Balancing Yoga Pranayama
Background of Chakra Balancing Breathing Exercise (Anuloma Viloma Pranayama):
This is a wonderful and essential breathing exercise to practice before moving on to the practice of other more advanced pranayamas. This breath control technique comes from Patnajali’s Yoga Sutras and actually goes by several different names. It is called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama, Anuloma Viloma Pranyanama, Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique, but I think the name that will describe it best is Chakra Balancing Breathing Exercise. The version given here is the basic technique which must be mastered first, later in this book I will give the more advanced versions of this pranayama.
Chakra Balancing Breathing Exercise is designed to purify the psychic channels (nadis) through which Kundalini Energy and Prana (Life-Force) flow. There are 3 primary channels for the flow of this energy: Ida, Pingala and Shusumna. It is essential to balance the flow of energy between the Ida and Pingala channels which run alongside and intertwine the spine. Through the spinal column runs the Shushumna Nadi, the central master channel. The Ida and Pingala can be considered the lunar and solar channels respectively. With the Ida Nadi responsible for cooling, feminine, passive, mental energy and the Pingala Nadi responsible for hot, male, active, physical energy. As the flow through these 2 channels is harmonized, prana and Kundalini start to flow through Shushumna. This flow through the Shushumna Nadi activates and balances all the seven chakras.
Benefits of Chakra Balancing Breathing Exercise (Anuloma Viloma Pranayama):
- Activates Kundalini Flow through the Shushumna, thus awakening the chakras.
- The flow of Kundalini through the Shushumna also induces meditative states of consciousness.
- Calms the mind, promoting peace and tranquility.
- Creates balance, harmony and rhythm in the entire system.
- Prepares the system for more advanced Pranayamas.
- Improves the respiratory system.
- Strengthens the nervous system.
- Purifies the body by oxygenating the blood supply.
Cautions for Chakra Balancing Breathing Exercise (Anuloma Viloma Pranayama):
- As with all breath control practice, only do as much as you are comfortable with. Start slowly and build up steadily.
- Do not do this breathing exercise if one nostril is blocked or you are requiring force to breathe through it.
How To Do Simple Chakra Balancing Breathing Exercise (Anuloma Viloma Pranayama):
- To practice this breathing exercise sit up in a comfortable position. Preferably in a variation of sukh asana (cross legged).
- Elongate your spine upwards, lengthen your neck and subtly bring your chin back and in like a soldier at attention. This will align the spine with the back of your head.
- Fold your index finger and middle finger into the palm of your right hand so just the thumb, ring finger and pinkie are extended. Hold your knee with your left hand.
- Close your eyes.
- Bring your attention to your breathing and take 5 deep, slow breaths though the nose. This will oxygenate your blood and relax you. For the rest of the exercise the attention should remain on your breath.
- Now with your right thumb gently close the right nostril and breathe in slowly and completely through the left nostril only counting mentally from 1 to 4.
- Now gently close the left nostril with your right ring finger and pinkie and releasing the right nostril breathe out through it only, counting mentally from 1 to 4.
- Now breathe in through the RIGHT nostril only, keeping the left closed, counting mentally from 1 to 4.
- Finally, re-close the right nostril and breathe out through the left only, counting mentally from 1 to 4. This completes 1 cycle of Anuloma Viloma Pranayama.
- Start with 5 rounds a day and start to add 1 additional round as you make progress. Also, start to add to the count, based on your level of comfort, by 1 for both the inhalation portion and exhalation portion till you reach a count of 12 for each phase. When you can comfortably manage that move onto Intermediate Anuloma Viloma Pranayama.
How To Do Intermediate Chakra Balancing Breathing Exercise (Anuloma Viloma Pranayama):
- All steps are the same as above except you should now build up to 15-20 rounds a day and your count should be built up to 24:24 for inhalation and exhalation. After you reach 24:24 (even with less rounds if you don’t have much time) you can progress to the Advanced version.
How To Do Advanced Chakra Balancing Breathing Exercise (Anuloma Viloma Pranayama):
- In the advanced version you will introduce the optimum ratio for inhalation to exhalation. The ratio should be 1:2. In other words for every count of 1 for inhalation, exhalation should last twice as long. So now perform Nadi Shodhana Pranayama at the ration 12:24 (12 counts for inhalation phase and 24 for exhalation). Build up to 30 rounds a day, or as many as time allows you to do. The upper limit allowed is 80 rounds 4 times a day, so don’t worry about over doing it unless you are hitting this limit.
- Later in this book I will introduce the versions of the Chakra Balancing Breathing Exercise utilizing both, breath retention and bandhas (body locks). In general though the above breathing technique should be practiced for at least 4-6 months first before combining with breath retention or body locks.
Hints and Tips Chakra Balancing Breathing Exercise (Anuloma Viloma Pranayama):
- 30 years. It took Yogi Bhajan 30 years to master and perfect the flow of breath through either nostril without the use of his hands. This is a worthwhile mental exercise to try. By bringing the power of your attention to the flow through a particular nostril see how well you can modulate it. Here is the link to Yogi Bajan’s Kundalini Yoga Website if you want to explore.
- Apply the knowledge from this breath control technique to your everyday life and monitor the affects. If you are looking for active energy, breathe exclusively through the Right Nostril, on the other hand, if you are looking to relax or do mental work breathe exclusively through the Left Nostril. Experiment, learn and enjoy.
- To learn more about Anuloma Viloma Pranayama (called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama by this school) you can visit Yoga Vision, Bihar School of Yoga.
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