Pranayama for Summer

Depending on where you live, it can get pretty toasty in the summer. Yoga and Ayurveda offer some great breathing techniques to help keep you cool in the heat of summer. In addition to bringing temperature down, these practices typically work on stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to create an overall sense of calm.

What is Pranayama?

The word “pranayama” can be broken up into two root words. The first root word, prana, is our life force, our energy. The second root word, ayama, is to stretch or extend. Sometimes, the second root word is translated as yama, which is restraint or bridle. With these root words in mind, we can say pranayama means something like intentional movement of prana (energy).

Pranayama practices always follow a pattern and encompass three aspects; inhalation, retention, exhalation over a specific period of time. It is important for those with high blood pressure, glaucoma, hypertension, or are pregnant to not perform the breath retention part of the practice.

Why Would We Want to Intentionally Move Prana?

When we move our prana through pranayama practices, it helps us become more in touch with our inner nature and the more subtle aspects of our Self. Pranayama works with removing energetic and emotional blocks to help create a more connected feeling. Pranayama also helps strengthen and mobilize the muscles that support the lungs such as the diaphragm, internal and external intercostals, the internal and external obliques, etc. This is important to support overall lung function, build or maintain lung capacity, and increase or maintain blood oxygen levels which is important for brain function.

Nadis (Energy Channels)

Nadis are energy channels that allow for the flow of prana through the body. Most yoga practices recognize three main nadis; ida, pingala, and sushumna. Ida and pingala are most effected from pranayama practices. Ida represents the left side of the body, moon energy, feminine energy, and cool. Pingala represents the right side of the body, solar energy, masculine energy, and heat. With pranayama, it is possible to work with one specific energy channel to elicit those qualities.

Pranayama in the Summer to Keep Cool

Pranayama techniques are used to evoke many different mental and physical attributes. One way pranayama can be used is to effect body temperature. As temperatures begin to heat  up for summer, here are a few pranayama techniques to help cool things off.

These breathing practices slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure. If you have unregulated low blood pressure, feel light headed, or have any other adverse effects, stop immediately and recover safely.

Shitali pranayama how to image for blogShitali (Cooling) and Sheetkari (Hissing) Pranayama

Shitali and sheetkari are two different techniques, but are done in a similar way.

Cautions: Because the mouth does not have an air filtration system like the nose, it is best to practice these pranayamas where air is not polluted. Do not practice these breathing techniques if you have a lung or breathing disorder like asthma, COPD, bronchitis, etc, as well as any heart condition like low blood pressure. Reminder that pregnant women, those with high blood pressure, hypertension, glaucoma, or similar conditions, should not practice the breath retention.

How To

In both techniques, find a comfortable seated position and sit tall with length in your spine. Keep your shoulders down away from your ears, and place your hands in a comfortable position that allows your chest to stay open. Allow your eyes to close or gently gaze down the tip of your nose. Both techniques use an inhale through the mouth and an exhale through the nose.

Sehetkari Pranayama Blog Article How to Image

For shitali, stick out your tongue and roll it into a tube shape. If this isn’t possible, you can tuck your tongue behind the bottom front teeth. With your tongue out, inhale through your mouth. Close your mouth, hold the breath in for one or two seconds (working up to longer periods without strain), and exhale through the nostrils. Repeat this for five to ten minutes.

For sheetkari, bring the top and bottom front teeth to touch and inhale through your teeth with open lips to make a hissing sound. Close your mouth, hold the breath in for one or two seconds (working up to longer periods without strain), and exhale through the nostrils. Repeat this for five to ten minutes.

When finished with the practice, sit quietly and breathe normally for 3-5 minutes before fully moving out of the practice.

Chandra Bhedena Pranayama Blog Article ImageChandra Bhedena Pranayama

Chandra means “moon,” and bhedena is “to pass through,” meaning to pass through the moon channel. Chandra bhedena is done by moving prana through the left nadi, ida, to awaken the cooler energy of the moon. Although ida nadi flows along the left side of the body, it ends in the right hemisphere of the brain. Because of this, chandra bhedena is said to help support right side brain functions such as attention, memory, reasoning, and problem solving. Additionally, it brings on the cooler energy of the moon to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and may lower body temperature.

Cautions: Those with unregulated low blood pressure should use caution when practicing this pranayama. Chandra bhedena should not be practiced if you have a cold, epilepsy, or any form of heart disease. Reminder that pregnant women, those with high blood pressure, hypertension, glaucoma, or similar conditions, should not practice the breath retention.

How To

Sit comfortably with your spine long. Keep your shoulders down away from your ears. Allow your eyes to close or gently gaze down the tip of your nose. Bring your right hand into Vishnu mudra (extend the thumb, tuck the middle and forefinger into the palm, bring fourth and little finger together and extend out.)  Hover your right hand, palm facing you, in front of your face, and place your left hand in a comfortable position that keeps your chest open. Alternatively, you may place the fore and middle fingers of the right hand together on your brow.

Before beginning, a specific pattern for the breath should be chosen. This is typically 1:4:2 (inhale: hold: exhale.) If you inhale for 2 seconds, hold the breath in for 8 seconds, and exhale for 4 seconds. The breath retention should not be strenuous in any way, so it is possible to shorten or eliminate it. The more important factors are there is a specific pattern you follow and the exhale is longer than the inhale. Beginners should start with 1:1:1.

Gently close off the right nostril with your thumb and take an inhale through your left nostril. Gently close off your left nostril with your fourth and pinky fingers and hold the breath. Keep the left nostril closed, and release your thumb from your right nostril to exhale. Repeat the process by starting with closing the right nostril and opening the left nostril. Repeat this pattern for 5-60 minutes.

When finished with the practice, sit quietly and breathe normally for 3-5 minutes before fully moving out of the practice.

When to Practice

Generally, it is best to practice pranayama in the morning on an empty stomach. This becomes part of a morning routine which may encompass meditation, yoga, etc. The above listed techniques may be used any time you feel a need to relax or are feeling exceptionally warm, need to focus, or slow your roll.

Leave a Comment

May 3, 2022 · 3:35 pm

Leave a Reply