When do you notice your breath? When you don't have enough puff after hard physical exercise, when singing in the shower and you can't quite hold that long note to the end? Maybe when you're feeling the nerves before an important presentation, with sweaty palms, and a squeaky, breathless voice escapes from your throat.
I so wish I had practiced Kundalini Yoga during my younger, stressy, full-on mad career path days. The simple technique of conscious breathing, hearing it enter your nostrils, feeling it move through the body, watching it complete its cycle, gives you all the answers. So simple. And yet no one gave us the manual with all the wonderful breathing techniques and practices to alleviate stress, cool anger, boost energy, help us sleep.... and so many more with so many incredible health-giving benefits.
Awareness of the breath is like the most beautiful reunion with a close intimate friend. As if you have never been apart, the memories just keep flooding back, and your whole body responds with that warm, tingling aliveness that being close to someone special brings. The breath re-unites you with your Self, to that blissful place, a place where you are no longer alone trying to battle your way through life, ignoring your body, ignoring your nature.
"One thing you have as a gift - the breath of life. Pawan Guru in the breath of life is the source of knowledge, all wisdom, all beauty, and all opportunities."
Unlike some of the more challenging and yes, daunting aspects of Kundalini yoga, like three minutes of stretch pose or 31 minutes of Sat Kriya, some of the basic pranayama techniques are more accessible, less overwhelming and yet remain extremely effective.
Breathing through one nostril can change your energy and mood. For example, right nostril breathing is associated with sun energy, vigour and alertness.
So if you're feeling really, really tired, and you need a lift, try this practice, aptly called Energy Boost:
Sit in easy pose with a straight spine. Block the left nostril with the thumb of the left hand. Keep the other fingers straight and slightly separated. Begin Breath of Fire through the right nostril. Continue for 3-5 minutes. Then inhale and mentally circulate energy throughout your body and aura.
Left nostril breathing is associated with moon energy, calmness, and sensitivity.
If you're feeling anxious and nervous and want to relax, try this exercise:
Soothing: Increasing Lunar Energy.
Sit in easy Pose with a straight spine. Block the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand. Keep the other fingers straight up like antennae. Take 26 long, deep and complete breaths through the left nostril. Then inhale and relax. This will soothe you and bring you to a calm state.
Chanting is also a wonderful way of bringing the prana - life force energy - into your body, expanding your lung capacity and offering you the gift of the sound current. My connection to the breath expanded and grew so much once I allowed myself the pleasure of chanting.
Try this mantra
Pawan, Pawan, Pawan, Pawan, Par Paraa, Pawan Guroo
Pawan Guroo, Wha-hay Guroo, Wha-hay Guroo, Pawan Guroo
And chant along to this musical version: