Balanced Breathing (Sama Vritti)
Because we all could use a little balance! This is a basic breathing technique for beginners that you can do anytime, anywhere. Practicing Sama Vritti will calm your body and focus your mind.
How to do it: Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position with your back straight, or lie down for a more restorative practice. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your natural breath. Just observe, and do not change anything at first. When you’re ready, begin to inhale on a count of 4, and exhale on a count of 4, matching the length of your inhale and exhale. As you practice more, experiment with counting to higher numbers—just make sure your inhale and exhale stay the same length. Continue breathing this way for several minutes, or until you feel your mind and body relax.
Abdominal Breathing (Adham Pranayama)
When we’re stressed, our breathing tends to be very shallow. Abdominal breathing naturally deepens the breath, calms us down, and stabilizes our mood.
How to do it: Begin lying down with both hands on your belly. Close your eyes and take a few moments to become aware of your natural breath. When you’re ready, begin to focus on your inhalation, and try to guide as much of your breath as possible into your belly. Feel your hands rise as your belly expands beneath them. As you exhale, feel your belly fall sink towards the floor. Once you are comfortable, make the breaths slower and deeper. As you practice, check that only the belly, and not the chest, is rising and falling. Continue this practice for 5-10 minutes.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shoddana)
In Yoga, Nadi Shoddana is thought to be a cure all that can open all of our energy channels and bring calm and balance to the mind.
How to do it: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position, breathing naturally and easily. When you feel ready, press your right thumb against your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril. At the end of your inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril. Continue with this pattern, inhaling through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb, and exhaling through the left nostril. Practice for at least 3 minutes. When you finish, take some time to allow your breath to return to normal, noticing the changes in your breath and mind.
Humming Bee Breath (Brahmari)
Brahmari might look and sound a little strange at first, but you’ll quickly stop feeling self-conscious as you experience the almost immediate calming effects of this pranayama. It’s especially great to do before bed or if you can’t sleep.
How to do it: Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight. Bring your hands toward your ears, and firmly press the tops of your index fingers into your ears, blocking out all sound. Inhale deeply through your nose, and as you exhale release a low, continuous, loud humming sound. Focus on the vibrations moving from your throat to the top of your head. Inhale normally, and as you exhale start humming again. Practice for a few minutes or until you begin to feel calm—it won’t take long!