Updated: May 7, 2020
Learning the art and practice of proper breathing boosts your ability to meditate thus allowing your awareness to access a fully collaborative mind.
Pranayama is the study and practice of focused breathing to achieve a meditative state of consciousness, or, in the modern vernacular, a state of mindfulness. We, humans, are gifted at achieving a meditative, mindful state of conscious awareness. For the most part, we simply only need to release the distractions that keep us focused in the past or future. Devices such as mantras (repeating sounds or phrases), body postures (asana), and hand postures (mudra) were developed and then given spiritual significance as a means of tricking our survival instincts into releasing strategy awareness to more refined areas within consciousness. And, if done with sincerity and a sense of greater purpose, these spiritual devices are very effective in supporting the expansion of sensory, visceral, and emotional awareness within consciousness – the expansion of the collaborative mind. In the greater knowing, everything we encounter is mind. Everything.
The Akashic Records indicate that our human bodies were designed to easily allow for the evolution toward an ever-expanding “spiritual” awareness. This is because our human spirits are constantly evolving toward a more complete collaboration with our eternal soul, which is a singular cell of, and within, our creator’s mind. As evolving spirits (ever-increasing awareness), we will find more and more effective ways to ensure the unity of body, spirit, and soul. Our human spirits are the link, the bridge between the Earth (body, instinctual intelligence) and the Divine (soul, consciousness, eternal knowing). In short, we mediate between the creation (body) and its creator (soul).
But, I digress … any practice of thoughtful breath is pranayama. Prana (life force energy) is everywhere in the universe. Because of our, body, spirit, soul makeup, we humans can focus or concentrate prana through certain spirit practices – in this case – through pranayama. There are hundreds of breathing patterns – some are simple patterns of inhalation to exhalation through the nose, and occasionally the mouth, while others are more complicated alternating patterns of nostrils and mouth sequences designed to affect certain areas of the brain. There are also patterns of ratios – timed inhalation, hold, and exhalation to release blocked prana. Lifeforce energy (prana) locks in the soft tissue of the body due to unresolved relationship issues and looping negative thought patterns that result in emotional blocks. Some ratio breathing patterns are smoothly executed, others are aggressively performed; some involve fluttering the diaphragm, others systematically fill the lungs from bottom to top and then expel from top to bottom. Think of filling a pitcher from the bottom up and pouring from the top.
If you are just beginning with focused breathing practices, please know, to complete a full study of pranayama would take a lifetime. So, don’t get discouraged if this seems difficult at first. The focus of this alternating nostril technique is to open the subtle visual centers within the brain to allow for a greater range of inner vision and imagination. This type of pattern is often used as a means of opening channels to the Akashic Records. This also helps with opening the third eye. It is important to suspend judgment when practicing such activities.
Our bodies naturally alternate nostrils throughout a twenty-four-hour period. That is, of course, unless the inner tissue of the nose is damaged or somehow malformed. The very act of breathing creates the electrical energy our bodies use to stay alive. The purposeful exaggeration of alternating nostril patterns brings about a very different pattern of electrical impulses at the back of the brain.
The anatomy of the nose from Wikipedia:
In anatomy, a nasal concha, plural conchae, also called a turbinate or turbinal, is a long, narrow, curved shelf of bone that protrudes into the breathing passage of the nose in humans and various animals. The conchae are shaped like an elongated seashell, which gave them their name (Latin concha from Greek κόγχη). A turbinate bone is any of the scrolled spongy bones of the nasal passages in vertebrates.
In humans, the turbinates divide the nasal airway into 4 groove-like air passages and are responsible for forcing inhaled air to flow in a steady, regular pattern around the largest possible surface area of nasal mucosa, which, as a ciliated mucous membrane with shallow blood supply, cleans and warms the inhaled air in preparation for the lungs.
From the spiritual point of view:
Our nostrils, more specifically, the turbinates, are designed to alternate the spin direction and volume of the chi energy (prana) that are adjacent, or in a manner of speaking, that is “attached” to the molecules of oxygen. This is necessary to maintain the proper balance of the subtle life force energies (prana, chi) that give vitality to the entire body through the subtle channels called Nadis. In the alternating pattern herein, the prana is concentrated on the “sight” centers of the brain. We can actively stimulate that visual center by forcing an alternate pattern of breathing specifically designed to gather chi at the back of the brain. This will help energize the connection between sensory sight and extra-sensory perception. This is not a balanced breath and is considered to be outside the teachings of pranayama by many scholars.
Side note: The teachings of pranayama, the study of influencing the movement of life force energy (prana, chi, ki) through the vital centers of the body, goes back several thousands of years and is central to the study of yoga. The work of the late B. K. S. Iyengar, a renowned master of hatha yoga, brings profound understanding to this subject. His book entitled, Light on Pranayama, offers subtle insights into the workings of these vital forces and how we can stimulate them to achieve expansion within our conscious awareness. His daughter, Geeta, and son, Prashant, continue his excellent work in hatha yoga and pranayama.
Alternate Nostril Breathing Pattern
Our bodies are designed to naturally alternates nostrils throughout the course of a twenty-four-hour period. Our nostrils are designed to alternate the direction and volume of the chi energy attached to the molecules of oxygen. This is necessary to maintain the proper balance of the subtle life force energies (chi) that give vitality to the “sight” centers of the brain. We can actively stimulate that visual center by forcing an alternate pattern of breathing specifically designed to gather chi at the back of the brain. This will help energize the connection between sensory sight and extra-sensory perception.
Side note: The teachings of pranayama, the study of influencing the movement of chi energy (chi) through the vital centers of the body, goes back several thousands of years and is central to the study of yoga. The work of B. K. S. Iyengar, a renowned master of hatha yoga, brings profound understanding to this subject. His book entitled, Light on Pranayama, offers subtle insights into the workings of these vital forces and how we can stimulate them to achieve expansion within our conscious awareness.
Technique #1: Body Posture: Always sit comfortably with your spinal column erect and lifted. When sitting on the floor, a small pillow, or two, can make the difference if your hamstring muscles or hips are tight. Do not use the back of a chair for support; keep your back straight by adjusting your hips. Using the arm of the chair to support your right arm will put you into the wrong posture. Imagine the crown of your head being attached to a string hanging down from the ceiling that is gently pulling you upward. Your chin will naturally tilt slightly downward as you imagine the lift.
Hand Posture: The last two fingers of the right hand control the flow of oxygen into and out of the left nostril, while the thumb of the right-hand controls the inhalation and exhalation of the right nostril. Overlap your fourth finger with the third finger, creating a mass equal to that of your thumb. See the photo below.
The Breath: This breath is designed to awaken the centers at the back of the brain that allow for greater “vision.” This breath is not a balanced breath and should not be done for extreme lengths of time. For the average person fifteen to twenty minutes is enough. If you feel any nausea or dizziness while doing this breath, stop for a moment, then continue your focused breathing, replacing the exhalation through the mouth with exhaling through the left nostril. Always begin this breath with three conscious exhalations through both nostrils. Expand the diaphragm as you breathe deeply into your belly through your nostrils, then contract the diaphragm as you exhale through both nostrils. Repeat two more times. There are two separate phases to this breathing pattern. First get accustomed to the pattern by repeating the first phase a few times, then add the second phase.
· Close your left nostril and breathe in through right nostril.
· Close both nostrils and breath out through your mouth.
· Open your left nostril and inhale.
· Close your left nostril at the top of your inhalation, open your right nostril and exhale.
– Repeat –
· In through the right.
· Out through the mouth.
· In through the left.
· Out through the right.
Then, once you are comfortable with that pattern, you can add the second phase - the whole pattern would look like this:
· In through the right.
· Out through the mouth.
· In through the left.
· Out through the right.
· In through the left.
· Out through the right.
· In through the mouth.
Out through the left.
Proper classic use of right hand for opening and closing nostrils.
Acceptable finger position for opening and closing nostrils.
Ratio Breathing Technique
Ratio breathing patterns are used for very specific purposes. The Master's Breath ratio of 1-4-2 is used when an individual is attempting to awaken their spiritual sight - third eye. Our bodies naturally produce the brain chemistry necessary to open the paranormal function of the pineal gland. All the worlds cultures have used natural and, in our modern age, artificial substances to cause the pineal to function at a "spiritual" level. The one ingredient necessary for this to happen is called DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine is a tryptamine molecule). This breathing ratio encourages the body to produce small amounts of this molecule. Use an evenly measured source for counting the ratios, such as a metronome or the second hand of a clock. DO NOT use your pulse for counting. If the beginning inhalation number in the ratio is 4 then the second number, or hold count is 16 and the exhale is 8. If the beginning number is 5, the hold is 20 and release 10 - and so on. Only do this for up to 20 minutes at a time. You can do this several times in a day.
Pranayama Preparation - Sitting cross-legged or in full lotus position is always great for supporting a lift upward through your spine. If using a seiza bench or yoga cushion, made certain that your shins and knees are protected. In any case, sit with your spine lifted as opposed to straightened. You can do this as a simple thought exercise putting space between the vertebra. About how-to breath: breath through your nose. If you cannot, shape your mouth in an oval and breath through your mouth. Every pranayama breath begins with a complete exhalation. Each inhalation and exhalation need to be full. Inhale deep into the belly, filling out the mid-torso with a slight lift to the shoulders as you complete the inhalation. Exhale from your chest first, then mid torso and finally compress the belly toward the spine. Additionally: This particular technique involves contracting the major muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles all attach to the perineum, the area located between the anus and the scrotum in men and between the anus and the vagina in women. Tensing the perineum helps direct the upward flow of chi while doing certain breathing exercises.
The full practice of Seika Tanden Kokyu is a great exercise to center consciousness into the now. This short exercise is for a quick centering just prior to other pranayama breathing patterns. Sit comfortably in a warm still setting. If it is chilly, cover your body with a meditation shawl or light natural-fiber fabric.
1 Inhaling begin the technique by drawing chi up from the root chakra (in the arch of each foot) and into the base chakra (at the base of your spine). Make certain that this is a complete inhalation. 2 HOLDING that inhalation, contract the deep muscles at the base of your abdomen, once, relax and then twice, relax and then three times, relax. 3 Then as you exhale move the chi from the base chakra upward to a point just below your navel - your tanden (hara or belly brain). 4 With your next inhalation, breath in through your tanden, move the chi up the right side of your spine to the top of your neck, that point where your neck and head join (medulla oblongata of the brain stem). 5 As you exhale allow that chi to pour down the left side of your spinal column stopping at your tanden. 6 Inhale through your tanden, move the energy up the right side of your spine to the top of your neck. 7 Exhale as the energy pours down the left side of your spinal column. Repeat for an intuitive amount of time.
Expanding Chi Energy to Third Eye Complex
Read through this breathing pattern before your first experience. As much as
visualizing the paths of energy, it is important to feel the chi moving in the described pattern. Giving lift to the spine helps to increase the flow of chi through the chakras as does a comfortable posture with the shoulder blades moving together – this opens your outer chest. Underlying every thought is a feeling. Feelings inspire our thought process just as thoughts can guide us to feelings. Please know that where your thoughts go, energy flows. This is always true. It is purely a matter of focus. Keep focused on the pattern and feelings even as wandering thoughts move in for attention, and they will. As stated, it is important to feel the pathway of chi during this breathing exercise. Inhale and exhale through your nose. If you cannot breathe through your nose, use your mouth in the shape of an oval. Every breath starts with a deep, deliberate exhalation, letting your chest fall toward your navel, then pulling your belly fully inward, contracting toward the spine for a complete exhalation. This will allow for a deep inhalation as we begin.
To begin: 1. Visualize brilliant chi energy gathering in front of your throat chakra. It is pure energy showing as tiny particles of bright energetic light. Slowly inhale that pure energy through your throat chakra, lifting it upward to the center of your head to a point just across from the top of your ear. Hold a moment. Now slowly exhale that breath through a small opening in the center of your forehead – your brow chakra – just above the eyebrows. Imagine that opening to be shaped like your lips when you are blowing out a candle. 2. Visualize brilliant chi energy gathering in front of your brow chakra. Slowly inhale through your forehead – the same opening as your previous exhale – sending that energy through the center of your head (same point across from the top of your ear). Hold for a moment. Through an opening the size of a peanut butter jar lid, slowly exhale that energy upward out through your crown chakra. Feel that exhalation as a forceful breath. 3. Visualize brilliant chi energy gathering above your crown chakra. Slowly inhale through the same opening in your crown chakra moving the chi to the center of your head (same point across from the top of your ear). Hold for a moment. Slowly exhale that chi energy out through the back of your head where your neck and head join. This is called the Mouth of God, or, medulla oblongata of the brain stem. 4. Visualize brilliant chi energy gathering across from the Mouth of God. Slowly inhale, moving that energy up to the center of your head. Hold for a moment. Slowly exhale through your throat chakra … Repeat the pattern for twenty minutes.