Tag Archives: pranayama techniques

Kumbhaka – Pranayama

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Tongue to the Roof / Pranayama 101

Why hold your tongue to the roof of your mouth and pranayama techniques!

Many people have heard of this practice in the martial arts, meditation, yoga, and even while doing the thymus thump.(Tapping the sternum stimulates the thymus gland to produce T-cells and enhances the immune system.) The practice of keeping the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth helps keep your focus, while meditating, driving, chopping vegetables, etc., keeping you calm and centered.How this may work is easy to explain, and I am happy to offer corroborating evidence as to the efficacy of this practice.The system of acupuncture dates back thousands of years.There are 12 meridians that energize our organ systems.

Two meridians are known as the Master Meridians – they are in charge of all the rest.They are called the Conception or Central Vessel and the Governing Vessel.The very fact they are called “vessels” gives us a clue.A meridian is a line of energy; a vessel is some sort of container. These two meridians, the Master Meridians, are important because they “contain” the secret of energy and vitality.Both of these meridians begin at the perineum – that part of the body between the genitals and the anus. The Central Vessel travels up the front – through the soft tissues of the body – and ends at the tip of the tongue.The Governing Vessel travels up the back – through the hard bony tissues of the vertebrae, over the bones of the cranium – and ends at the roof of the mouth.To keep the tip of the tongue at the roof of the mouth completes the “microcosmic circuit” and allows the energy to flow.When we tap the sternum, we direct this flowing energy to the thymus gland, stimulating its function – producing T-cells, thereby enhancing the immune response.

With the tongue completing this circuit, we can also tap over the right lower rib cage to stimulate the liver, the cranium to stimulate the brain, etc. the tip of the tongue at the roof of the mouth!You will find a spot that feels comfortable about an inch behind the teeth.

I gave a talk at the Institute one night about subtle energy fields and mentioned the tip of the tongue at the roof of the mouth. A few days later one of the guests mentioned that it really works.I asked her what she meant – thinking, like most people, she observed the calming, focusing effect.

As soon as she put the tip of her tongue to the roof of her mouth, the contractions were noticeably more vigorous. Skeptical that such a simple thing could have such a profound effect, and thinking that her muscles were now “warmed up” and able to move easier, she took her tongue away. She was shocked when the contractions reduced their intensity. So she kept her tongue where it belongs for the rest of the therapy, and now keeps the habit throughout the day. She was at the Institute with her daughter and her mother. She mentioned this experience to her daughter who performed her own experiment and confirmed the results.

When the mother’s turn came, she noticed no difference at all!Then, realizing the mother was wearing dentures, the daughter asked her to remove them – and, sure enough, she could clearly see the difference!So now when anyone asks about dentures, the answer is: always remove the synthetic dentures when doing therapeutic work or meditation. This will allow the free flow of energy within the “microcosmic circuit.”So, unless you are eating, drinking or talking – when it’s impossible – always keep the tip of the tongue at the roof of the mouth

Source – Real Doctor

Breathing is something we do on a daily basis. The body, in a living state, breathes involuntarily whether we are awake, sleeping, or actively exercising. Breathing is living. It is a vital function of life. In yoga, we refer to this as pranayama. Prana is a Sanskrit word that means life force and ayama means extending or stretching. Thus, the word “pranayama” translates to the control of life force. It is also known as the extension of breath. Every cell in our bodies needs oxygen to function properly. So it’s no surprise that research shows that a regular practice of controlled breathing can decrease the effects of stress on the body and increase overall physical and mental health.

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.

1. Nadhi Sodhana aka Anuloma Viloma

Nadhi sodhana, also known as alternative nostril breathing, is a very relaxed, balancing breath that is used to help calm the nervous system and aid in a restful night’s sleep. By increasing the amount of oxygen taken into the body, it’s believed that this breath can also purify the blood, calm the mind, reduce stress, and promote concentration.

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. Seal both nostrils once you’ve inhaled on the right side and exhaled through the left side. A complete cycle of breath includes an inhalation and exhalation through both nostrils. If you’re just starting out, you can do a four-count inhale, holding your breath for four to eight counts, then exhale for four counts. Perform up to ten cycles and notice how your body responds. 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.

2. Kapalabhati Pranayama

Kapalabhati means skull shining breath. It’s a pranayama exercise as well as an internal kriya, or cleansing technique. 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. Repeat. If this seems strenuous, start with 15 and gradually work your way up.

When to do it: Kapalabhati is great to do in the morning if you’re feeling chilly or sluggish. You may also try it when you’re feeling congested or bloated, but don’t try it on a full stomach. Avoid this technique if you are pregnant, or suffer from blood pressure issues or heart conditions.

3. Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi means victorious breath; it’s also referred to as ocean breath due to the sound it creates. 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.

4. Sitali Pranayama

Sitali also means cooling, which explains the effect it can have on your mind and body. This breath encourages clearing heat with coolness. It’s especially helpful during summer and in hot climates.

How to do it: Roll your tongue until the outer edges touch, forming a tube. If you can’t curl your tongue, make an oval shape with your mouth, keeping your tongue flat. Inhale through your mouth, taking in all the air that you can. It may make a hissing sound. After inhaling, bring the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and seal your lips. Feel the coolness of the inhalation in your month then exhale through your nose. Repeat five to ten times or as needed.

When to do it: If you’re feeling overheated, irritable, or find yourself waiting impatiently in hot weather, sitali is a great tool to try to cool off and relax!

Breathing is one of the most natural things we do as humans. It is a gift and a very powerful tool that can enable us to create more ease and balance in our lives. Taking time to focus on the breath allows us to pause from daily stresses, physical symptoms, and emotions that have taken over the mind. It is in that moment where we focus on the breath that we can return to a neutral state of being, gain clarity, feel rejuvenated, and enhance an overall sense of well-being. These are just a few wonderful reasons to invite a pranayama practice into your daily routine.

Source- Onemedical