Archive for shiva/shakti
The yogis believe that emotional and spiritual wellness depends on the balance between these male and female energies (shiva and shakti). Alternate nostril breathing allows us to develop equanimity between these energies, as well as the two polarities of our brains. This helps us become more centered, experience clarity of thought and become more balanced energetically.
At this very moment, you are predominantly breathing through one nostril. This changes about every 90 minutes, when one polarity of the brain becomes more dominant than the other. Test it out by blocking one nostril and inhaling through the other. Then do the same for the other and you will likely discover a difference between the two. According to yogic philosophy, this has important implications on our mental, physical and spiritual health.
The left nostril is associated with the right hemisphere of the brain, which is our feminine and creative mind (shakti or yin). The right nostril is associated with our logical and masculine side (Shiva or yang). Every person has both male and female aspects to their personalities and at different times, one will preside over the other. Breathing through the left nostril (by blocking the right) has a sedating and calming effect, while breathing to through the right is energizing and stimulating.
There are different ways of practicing alternate nostril breathing. Here’s my method as it’s really simple and can be done just about anywhere, provided that you don’t mind that people might give you inquisitive looks if you do this in public.
- Inhale through the left nostril, while blocking the right (to the count of 4)
- Hold the breath for a few seconds.
- Then block the left nostril and exhale through the right (4 counts).
- Inhale through the right nostril to the count of 4
- Block the right nostril and exhale through the left.
- Inhale through the left nostril
- Block the left nostril and exhale through the right.
You can alternate back and forth this way. If you find it’s really difficult to inhale &/or exhale through one nostril or the other, try blocking one and breathing strictly through the congested nostril. After a few minutes, the air passage should clear up and you may find yourself entering into a more serene and balanced state. Once you find that there is a uniformity of air passing through each nostril, you can stop the exercise.
The yogis consider alternate nostril breathing to be one of the best techniques for calming down the nervous system and reaching an optimal level of health.