A Note from Tracy: Research has proven that yoga is an effective tool to help overcome depression, according to this article recently published in Harvard Health Publishing. Effective yoga practices to combat depression are about more than movement, however. Breath and meditation are equally, if not more, important. In this series of articles, I will share six practices (some movement, some breath, and some meditation) from my series Overcoming Depression with Yoga. Enjoy!
According to the yoga teachings, the nadis are energetic pathways that are similar to meridians in Chinese medicine. The simple breath practice below balances these energy pathways, which is especially important when trying to overcome depression. Try this breath practice, and let me know what you think!
Nadi Sodhana (Alternate Nostril) Breathing:
- This breath practice must be done seated. Begin by sitting comfortably on a chair or on the floor with the spine in a neutral (extended) position.
- Lengthen both the inhale and exhale, making them approximately equal.
- After several breaths, begin the alternate nostril breathing technique described below.
- Raise your right hand, folding down your index and middle finger, as in the photo above. Seal your right nostril at the bottom of the nostril flap with your right thumb. Partially valve the left nostril with your ring finger near the cartilage. Inhale through the partially valved left nostril.
- At the end of the inhale, close the left nostril with the ring finger and partially valve the right nostril at the groove near the sinuses. Exhale through the partially valved right nostril.
- Inhale through that same valved (right) nostril.
- Seal your right nostril at the bottom of the nostril flap with your right thumb. Partially valve the left nostril with your left finger and slowly exhale through the partially valved left nostril.
- For the next 12 breaths, continue this process, changing the valved nostril with each breath.
- Inhale through a partially valved left nostril
- Exhale through a partially valved right nostril
- Inhale through a partially valved right nostril
- Exhale through a partially valved left nostril
- Repeat this nostril breathing technique for 5 or more minutes. Always finish by exhaling through the partially valved right nostril.
- Release the nostril technique and take a few lengthened breaths through both nostrils.
- When you feel ready, take 6 or more breaths to bring your breath back to a new natural rhythm.
- Notice any changes you feel after this practice. What is the new natural pattern of your breath? Notice the balance of your mind and your mental focus. try to bring this awareness of breathing to the rest of your day.
This breath practice looks funny and sounds complex, but it’s actually very simple. Give it a try, and if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.
Enjoy, and if you’re interested in learning more about my private yoga therapy practice and yoga teacher training, visit my website at http://svanayogaseattle.com/
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