Meditation · Yoga

Intro to Prana & Positive Breathing


Chances are if you’ve gone to a yoga class you’ve heard this very important term.

Considering this is my first post on breath work now is a good time to introduce pranayama and why it’s important! For fun I’ve included awkward amateur photos demostramating the exercise, you’re welcome.

So what is pranayama? Pranayama is the fourth limb of ashtanga yoga, following the actual poses, and translates to breath control.

Breaking down the term “prana” means life force energy and “yama” means control. In China, prana is called “chi”, or in Japan “Qi”, sound familiar yet? It’s energy! You cannot see it necessarily but it’s there (think electricity) and it’s in  e v e r y t h i n g . Understanding prana is understanding the different energy channels in the body (which I’m totally down to getting into another time, stay tuned!). Moving prana around the body is super neat and powerful! This is a soild way we raise our frequency.  Overall, pranayama exercises are used in the yoga practice to increase energy, clear the mind, and reduce tension/stress all by simply controlling our breath. Pretty cool, right?

You will not catch me without a deep pranayama practice the mornings of presentations, exams, going on an airplane, or all things that make me uncomfortable. Actually, you shouldn’t even be surprised if you catch me stuck in traffic doing the following pranayama technique; positive breathing! In fact, some private yoga clients I work with will request that we do different pranayama techniques for our whole session just because it results in a more chill feeling compared to a whole session focused on the yoga poses which I am totally cool with.

This week I’ve been teaching positive breathing as our pranayama focus and I think we all can agree that more positivity in the world is probably a good idea. Just know that you are only a few rounds away from a better mood!

How to: Positive Breathing (right nostril breathing)

This breathing exercise is to be done by breathing through only the right nostril in a specific count: 8:6:8.

The posture: Sit up tall in easy seat pose (cross the legs in a comfortable seat).

The hands: Left hand resting on the left knee in jnana mudra (pointer finger and thumb together, pictured below). The right hand is near the face in vishnu mudra (peace fingers folded, also pictured below). Eventually the right ring finger will close the left nostril and the thumb will close the right (this sounds strange, stay with me).

(Jnana mudra)

(Vishnu mudra)

Like most pranayama exercises there are three parts; the inhale, the retention, and the exhale. So, it’s goes like this: inhale for 8 seconds, hold for 6 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds. The seconds are judged by you at a slow and steady pace.

All together this is positive breathing:

Get the hands ready. Left on knee, right hand near face. Take a normal round of breath,  and exhale completely.

Close the left nostril breathe in through the right nostril only for 8 seconds.

The right thumb closes the right nostril holding the breath for 6 seconds.

Release the thumb exhale back out of the right nostril for 8 seconds.

Repeat by breathing back through the right nostril after the 8 second exhale. That’s it! This is a good one to do for a couple minutes depending on where you are in your meditation or pranayama practice.

Now get stimulating that prana!🤙

Try it and let me know what you think!


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