As we all know, the breath is a powerful tool, especially when it comes to running.
We’ve all been there, at the starting line, nervous, agitated, and unable to relax. Sometimes it can take a couple of miles to calm down and find your rhythm. However, there are tools that can help regulate the breath and calm the body down so you can preform your best race.
In yoga we not only practice physical poses, called asanas, we also practice breathing techniques, called pranayama. Pranayama is a powerful tool that can bring clarity and steadiness to the mind.
The simplest pranayama exercise is called nadi shodahana or alternate nostril breathing. Nadis are energy channels within the body. Without going into too much detail, this breathing practice aims to balance the energy, or prana, in the body by clearing these nadis. This is a great practice for beginners, benefits include:
- Decreasing the heart rate and blood pressure.
- Relaxing the mind and body.
- Reducing fatigue, stress and tension.
- Calming the monkey mind.
It is a practice that can be done anywhere and in less than 5 minutes. Next time you’re anxiously awaiting the start of your race, find a quiet space and try nadi shodahana.
- Find a comfortable seat, away from the hustle and bustle of race prep.
- Bring the left hand to the left thigh.
- Open the right palm skyward. Fold down the index and middle finger into the palm (see photo to the right). Then bring the right hand toward the face.
- Inhale, and then exhale fully through both nostrils.
- Close off the right nostril with the thumb.
- Inhale through the left nostril. Close off the left nostril with the ring finger.
- Open the right nostril and exhale.
- Inhale through the right nostril. Close off with the thumb.
- Open the left nostril, exhale. That is one round of nadi shodhana.
- Repeat 5-10 times.
As you get more comfortable with the practice you can add in breath retention but if you are a beginner to pranayama start with the technique above.
Written by Lisa Chase.