Alternate Nostril Breathing

A couple of weeks ago I woke up with a killer headache.  I think it was sinus mixed with a little hormonal fun.  The older I get, the more sensitive I have become to changes in weather, especially changes in atmospheric pressure.  When I turned 40, I also started to get monthly migraine level headaches.    Those of you who suffer from chronic headaches can relate to the debilitating effects that headaches have on your daily life.  However, through my daily yoga practice including the practice of Alternate Nostril Breathing,  I am able to control and alleviate my headache pain.

I don’t know why I continue to be amazed at the healing effects of yoga.  By practicing sun salutations, forward bends, and alternate nostril breathing, my headache lifted.

We do not breathe out of our nostrils equally.  In fact, we automatically alternate every 3 hours or so.  Scientists have discovered that when our right nostril is dominate,  the electrical activity is greater on the left side of the brain.  Alternately, when our left nostril is dominate, the electrical activity is greater on the right side of the brain.  By practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing,  you can balance the breathe so that both sides of the brain are working equally.  This allows you to activate and access your whole brain.

12 benefits of alternate nostril breathing:

1: Revitalizes you:

A few rounds of alternate nostril breathing is a quick pick me up if you are feeling flat, tired or even stressed. It provides your body with a much needed dose of extra energy.

2: Improves brain function:

When you mind is dull – concentration and clarity is poor.  Alternate nostril breathing brings equal amounts of oxygen to both sides of the brain for improved brain function.  Five minutes of alternate nostril breathing before an exam or interview is a great way to access your whole brain for improved performance.

3: Cleanses your lungs:

A daily five minute practice morning and night of alternate nostril breathing is great way to remove stale air and impurities from the bottom of your lungs.  Did you know that 70% of our body’s waste products are eliminated through our lungs?!

4: Calms an agitated mind:

I’m prone to worrying.  A few minutes of focused alternate nostril breathing is helpful (for me) in calming my  “over thinking” mind.   The ancient yogis believe that if you can regulate your breath, then you can control your mind.

5: Merges the left “thinking” brain and right “feeling brain:

Alternate nostril breathing optimizes both sides of your brain so you can access your whole brain, and all the benefits that go with it.

The flip side of course is, single nostril breathing can be used to activate, just the left”thinking” or just right “feeling” side of your brain for specific situations.

Try it out next time you need to drive your car.  Cover your left nostril with your thumb and breathe only through your right nostril for one minute.  This should keep you more alert when driving.

6: Encourage a calmer emotional state:

In times of emotional distress and upset, a few rounds of mindful nostril breathing will soften the intensity of over reactive emotional states.  The longer you practice, the more stable your thinking, and the calmer your emotions will become.

7: Improves sleep:

If you can’t sleep at night lay on your right hand side, gently close your right nostril with your right thumb and breath through your left nostril.  This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system which will calm you down and slow your heart rate.

8: Great preparation for meditation:

Alternate nostril breathing is a simple little trick that can be practiced for a few minutes before you begin your meditation practice.  It’s a very easy way to help you find your meditation groove.

9: Soothes your nervous system:

By focusing on your breath and deepening it, your brain will register this message and trigger the parasympathetic nervous system.  You have effectively switched your nervous system from a stressed response, into a relaxation response.   Single left nostril breathing (by closing your right nostril) will direct the flow of oxygen and energy to the right hemisphere of your brain, allowing once again, for the parasympathetic nervous system to be switched on.  Gosh, your breath and nose is very clever.

10: Regulates  the cooling and warming cycles of the body:

Left nostril is feminine, nurturing, calm and cooling.  Right nostril is masculine, heat, competitive and force.  Favouring one nostril more than the other can effect the heat or coolness of your body.

11: Clears and boosts your energy channels:

Slightly forced alternate nostril breathing improves and directs the flow of energy throughout your body – preventing sluggishness.  It oxygenates your blood and allows the energy (prana) in your body to be strong and flowing.

12: Enhances rest and relaxation:

A restless mind cannot relax.  Alternate nostril breathing melts away an imbalances between the right and left hemisphere of your brain and calms your thinking.  This is perfect for helping you access rest and relaxation far more efficiently.

An alternate nostril breathing exercise – purifying breath:

Step one: Use right thumb to close off right nostril.

Step two: Inhale slowly through left nostril

Step three: Pause for a second

Step four: Now close left nostril with ring finger and release thumb off right nostril

Step five: Exhale through your right nostril

Step six: Now, inhale through right nostril

Step seven: Pause

Step eight: Use thumb to close of right nostril

Step nine: Breathe out through left nostril

Step ten: This is one round. Start slowly with 1 or 2 rounds and gradually increase.Never force.Sit quietly for a few moments after you have finished.

I continue to be grateful and humbled by the healing power of yoga.  If you suffer from chronic headaches, anxiety, or depression, I encourage you to give yoga and alternate nostril breathing a try.  I will be teaching alternate nostril breathing at my next yoga workshop in the fall.

With love and gratitude,

Lisa

“The Yogini Next Door”

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Alternate Nostril Breathing

A couple of weeks ago I woke up with a killer headache.  I think it was sinus mixed with a little hormonal fun.  The older I get, the more sensitive I have become to changes in weather, especially changes in atmospheric pressure.  When I turned 40, I also started to get monthly migraine level headaches.    Those of you who suffer from chronic headaches can relate to the debilitating effects that headaches have on your daily life.  However, through my daily yoga practice including the practice of Alternate Nostril Breathing,  I am able to control and alleviate my headache pain.

I don’t know why I continue to be amazed at the healing effects of yoga.  By practicing sun salutations, forward bends, and alternate nostril breathing, my headache lifted.

We do not breathe out of our nostrils equally.  In fact, we automatically alternate every 3 hours or so.  Scientists have discovered that when our right nostril is dominate,  the electrical activity is greater on the left side of the brain.  Alternately, when our left nostril is dominate, the electrical activity is greater on the right side of the brain.  By practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing,  you can balance the breathe so that both sides of the brain are working equally.  This allows you to activate and access your whole brain.

12 benefits of alternate nostril breathing:

1: Revitalizes you:

A few rounds of alternate nostril breathing is a quick pick me up if you are feeling flat, tired or even stressed. It provides your body with a much needed dose of extra energy.

2: Improves brain function:

When you mind is dull – concentration and clarity is poor.  Alternate nostril breathing brings equal amounts of oxygen to both sides of the brain for improved brain function.  Five minutes of alternate nostril breathing before an exam or interview is a great way to access your whole brain for improved performance.

3: Cleanses your lungs:

A daily five minute practice morning and night of alternate nostril breathing is great way to remove stale air and impurities from the bottom of your lungs.  Did you know that 70% of our body’s waste products are eliminated through our lungs?!

4: Calms an agitated mind:

I’m prone to worrying.  A few minutes of focused alternate nostril breathing is helpful (for me) in calming my  “over thinking” mind.   The ancient yogis believe that if you can regulate your breath, then you can control your mind.

5: Merges the left “thinking” brain and right “feeling brain:

Alternate nostril breathing optimizes both sides of your brain so you can access your whole brain, and all the benefits that go with it.

The flip side of course is, single nostril breathing can be used to activate, just the left”thinking” or just right “feeling” side of your brain for specific situations.

Try it out next time you need to drive your car.  Cover your left nostril with your thumb and breathe only through your right nostril for one minute.  This should keep you more alert when driving.

6: Encourage a calmer emotional state:

In times of emotional distress and upset, a few rounds of mindful nostril breathing will soften the intensity of over reactive emotional states.  The longer you practice, the more stable your thinking, and the calmer your emotions will become.

7: Improves sleep:

If you can’t sleep at night lay on your right hand side, gently close your right nostril with your right thumb and breath through your left nostril.  This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system which will calm you down and slow your heart rate.

8: Great preparation for meditation:

Alternate nostril breathing is a simple little trick that can be practiced for a few minutes before you begin your meditation practice.  It’s a very easy way to help you find your meditation groove.

9: Soothes your nervous system:

By focusing on your breath and deepening it, your brain will register this message and trigger the parasympathetic nervous system.  You have effectively switched your nervous system from a stressed response, into a relaxation response.   Single left nostril breathing (by closing your right nostril) will direct the flow of oxygen and energy to the right hemisphere of your brain, allowing once again, for the parasympathetic nervous system to be switched on.  Gosh, your breath and nose is very clever.

10: Regulates  the cooling and warming cycles of the body:

Left nostril is feminine, nurturing, calm and cooling.  Right nostril is masculine, heat, competitive and force.  Favouring one nostril more than the other can effect the heat or coolness of your body.

11: Clears and boosts your energy channels:

Slightly forced alternate nostril breathing improves and directs the flow of energy throughout your body – preventing sluggishness.  It oxygenates your blood and allows the energy (prana) in your body to be strong and flowing.

12: Enhances rest and relaxation:

A restless mind cannot relax.  Alternate nostril breathing melts away an imbalances between the right and left hemisphere of your brain and calms your thinking.  This is perfect for helping you access rest and relaxation far more efficiently.

An alternate nostril breathing exercise – purifying breath:

Step one: Use right thumb to close off right nostril.

Step two: Inhale slowly through left nostril

Step three: Pause for a second

Step four: Now close left nostril with ring finger and release thumb off right nostril

Step five: Exhale through your right nostril

Step six: Now, inhale through right nostril

Step seven: Pause

Step eight: Use thumb to close of right nostril

Step nine: Breathe out through left nostril

Step ten: This is one round. Start slowly with 1 or 2 rounds and gradually increase.Never force.Sit quietly for a few moments after you have finished.

I continue to be grateful and humbled by the healing power of yoga.  If you suffer from chronic headaches, anxiety, or depression, I encourage you to give yoga and alternate nostril breathing a try.  I will be teaching alternate nostril breathing at my next yoga workshop in the fall.

With love and gratitude,

Lisa

“The Yogini Next Door”

And then the walls came crashing down…

My last post was at the height of my euphoria following a most powerful healing retreat.  Well, as they say, what goes up, must come down. Alright, maybe not always, but in this case I crashed back down hard.   Holy shit, did I crash.

I came back from the retreat fired up ready to move forward toward my goal of reaching more people through my yoga teaching and coaching.  I spent the week reading, writing, planning, meditating, and training.  I’ve been dreaming of quitting my job and committing myself fully to my life’s passion of yoga for awhile now.  But this time felt different.  I felt so certain that I was going to make a living teaching this yogic lifestyle to others through workshops, writing, speaking, and coaching that I could literally feel it in my soul;  I could see myself living the life I’ve always wanted to live.

I guess things got a little too real for my ego.  ‘Cuz she said,  “Oh, no ya don’t sister!”  in a big way!  Stinkin’ thinkin’ started to creep in Saturday.  My ego was saying, “Are you kidding!  Who are you to think you can coach others on how to live more peaceful, purpose-filled lives!?” and “Oh, and don’t forget you only have 2 people signed up for your next yoga workshop!” and my personal fave “You aren’t even that good of a yoga teacher!”.

In response, I answered as compassionately as I possibly could, “Not now, ego, I have work to do!”  I got out my gratitude journal, wrote down 10 things I was grateful for in my life and I went to bed for the night.

Egos are insidious, powerful parts of us, though.  I woke up Sunday morning sicker than I have been in years with a kick your ass to the curb kind of migraine.  Well played ego,well played!

Thankfully, I have a wonderful acupuncture healer friend who I have on speed dial.  The next day, I had an acupuncture treatment to relieve the pain.  However, as I was laying there with my needles in, I spoke directly to my ego to assure her that I would take better care of her throughout this journey.  I realized that instead of allowing and trusting in the process, I began to force the change.  I promised myself to take a much more gentle, loving approach to the journey.

Gay Hendrick’s referred to this experience in his book, The Big Leap, as an “upper limit problem”.

The gorgeous and brilliant Marie Forleo, life coach extraordinaire, elaborated on the upper limit theory. Here’s the basic idea: “Each of has an internal thermometer for how much success, wealth, happiness, love and intimacy we’ll let ourselves experience. That’s our upper limit setting. Kind of like our success comfort zone.

When we exceed our internal thermostat setting, and life gets super duper OMG good (we have an influx of money, get healthy, find a great relationship) — we unconsciously do things to sabotage ourselves, so we can drop back to the old, familiar place where we feel in control.

Upper limit problems can manifest like this: You’ve just had a huge win, and then you get in an accident, break a limb, fry your computer, over-drink, over-eat, over-spend, start a fight with your significant other, get really sick, etc. You know, fun self-sabotaging stuff like that.”

So why am I telling you all of this and why should you care?

Because if you are ready to make huge changes in your life, you will come up against your upper limits.  And when you do, you may want to back away from the pain and retreat back to your comfort zone, and ditch your dreams. Don’t!  Feel the discomfort, feel the pain.  Acknowledge the discomfort and pain, be gentle with yourself, and move through it.  Find a trusted healer, coach, or holistic practitioner to help you through it if necessary.

Just remember, the world needs us to dream big and stop playing small.  As Susan Jeffers tells us, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”

With gratitude,

Namaste,

Lisa