I love sharing free videos because it gives both me and the receiver a warm fuzzy feeling - at least I hope it does. And this is an amazing one, because I'm giving you two of the most important pranayams (breathing exercises) you can ever learn! Ever!
If you don't connect with your breath, and don't take time for conscious breathing you are missing out on the one thing that has the potential to change your health, your mind-set, your stress levels, your overall wellbeing.
Breath of Fire, or Kapalbhati in Sanskrit, literally means 'shining skull' because it pushes the energy upwards from the navel to the crown literally lighting you up inside. This powerful pranayam totally changes the blood chemistry by rapidly forcing stagnant air out of the lungs and pumping blood towards the heart and lungs to get rid of CO2 - and fill up again with beautiful, fresh, energising, life-giving O2. The pumping of the navel point directly stimulates the Kundalini energy - or life force - within us, and gives us the creative vision and motivation to really make our lives amazing.
It requires some dedication and patience to learn how to pump your navel point (belly button) like a set of bellows. Try not to get frustrated, it took me three months to really feel like I'd got the hang of it! The key is to ensure you completely relax between each pump - if the navel stays contracted then you'll quickly run out of breath because you're not moving the prana any more. Start with one minute, and build up slowly. Or you can count your pumps, say three rounds of ten pumps to start with and build up the number of pumps you can comfortably do on each round. I often use it in the water if I am feeling cold or uncertain about my dive. It's really worth it!
Alternate Nostril Breathing, also known as Nadi Sodhana in Sanskrit, clears out and opens up the subtle energy channels in our bodies. These 'Nadis’- are the subtle channels that carry the prana, or energy, within our system. Blockages in these nadis can cause all kinds of imbalances - both in the physical body in terms of poor health, but also mentally and emotionally, manifesting as depression.
Our pranic body - the totality of these channels - consists of 72,000 nadis! Wow! The three primary nadis are Sushumna, or Sushmana, which is the hollow channel running through the centre of our spine, and corresponds to the spinal cord in Western anatomy. The two secondary nadis are Ida and Pingala, representing the male and female aspects within us, the heat and the cool, the sun and moon. They travel from the base of the spine, spiraling upwards to meet at the Third Eye, between our eyebrows. It is these two channels that Nadi Sodhana is balancing. It is said that in order for Sushumna to open, then Ida and Pingala first need to be cleansed so this is what we do in this lovely, relaxing, balancing pranayama.
Practice each of these for between one and three minutes each morning and notice how your energy shifts, the awareness of your body grows, and your surroundings, your relationships, and your health improve.
And enjoy - these are techniques for life, not just today, tomorrow and maybe next week. So take your time, be patient and allow yourself to learn these gems so they can really support you.
The full Energy Beyond Breath online training course, which guides you through the application of pranayama for freedivers is available online now.