Getting High on Life

Written by on July 3, 2018 in Conscious Living, Thrive with 0 Comments

The word prana is Sanskrit meaning life force energy. We feel and experience prana at all times, although we probably have different names for it. Unfortunately, many of the ways we change our energy today use substances like sugar, caffeine, or alcohol which exact a crash on the other side. Millennia of practice and experimentation by yogis has illuminated ways we can change, ameliorate, and balance our energy using our breath, a healthy alternative to sugar, caffeine or alcohol. This energy work using breath is called pranayama and puts you in control of how you feel energy and not external circumstances.

 

Here are three pranayama techniques you can use to build, balance, or lower your energy depending on what you feel your body, mind, and spirit need.


 

Each of these breathing techniques will incorporate ujjayi breath, or whisper breath. This is the style of breathing one does during a yoga class. By itself, ujjayi works wonders to stimulate energy and develop focus, while balancing excess stimulation. It’s a great technique to get the brain into the alpha brain wave state or what’s called “the zone” by performers and athletes.

 

To do ujjayi breath, simply maintain a straight spine, slightly separate the jaw while keeping the lips closed, and begin to breathe deeply in and out of the  nostrils. If doing ujjayi breathing as its own exercise, breathe in about 5 seconds and out for about 6–7 seconds. It’s often called “whisper breath” because while breathing deeply, you also slightly constrict the muscles in the throat to create a whisper sound both on the inhale and the exhale. This whisper will aid in elongating the breath.

 

Each of the following breathing techniques uses ujjayi breath throughout their duration.

 

Building Energy

To build your energy, start with a few rounds of ujjayi breath. Then exhale completely. Now, breath into your belly for three counts, hold your breath for three counts, continue your inhale into the mid-chest for three counts, hold your breath for another three counts, continue to breathe in to the upper-chest for three counts. Finally, breathe out in one long but slow exhale for 9 counts. Repeat this for 3–5 minutes. If you start to feel light headed, pause and take a few rounds of ujjayi breath, emphasizing the exhale.

 

Decreasing Energy

To decrease energy, simply follow the above pattern but reverse it so that you are breathing out in stages, holding the breath between each stage, and taking one long inhale after you are completely empty. Again, repeat this for 3–5 minutes and if you feel light headed, pause and take a few rounds of ujjayi breath emphasizing the inhale.

 

Balancing Energy

This pranayama practice balances your energy, decreases your heart rhythms if your stressed, or adds slight vigor if your lethargic. To start, breathe ujjayi breath in for 5 counts, hold your breath for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts, and hold your breath for another 5 counts. Continue this for 3–5 minutes and breathe normally when you are finished. Like in the previous exercises, if you feel any discomfort, assume your regular ujjayi breath without the hold.


 

Practice these techniques whenever you feel you need to either build, decrease, or balance your energy. You may also do them all together successively, or simply ala carte whenever you feel the need. Enjoy these pranayama techniques and take control of your energy in a way that doesn’t give you a sugar, caffeine, or alcohol crash when you’re done.

Photo by Seneca Moore

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in New York City and when he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to trail run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats to places like Hawaii and Amalfi Coast and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program

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