Pranayama and Meditation
I started meditating during yoga classes when I was 16 but really I was meditating long before that. As a child, I spent a lot of time playing in nature and I just loved the feel of being in the woods. We often had a houseful with my siblings and cousins so the woods were like my sanctuary. I’d run and jump off large rocks catching a small tree that would bend and take me to the ground. I’d hop from rock to rock upstream to find the source. I’d get off the school bus and walk straight into the woods, up the mountain trying to guess where my house might be, then heading straight down sometimes I’d hit the mark, sometimes not. I’d even spend hours in the woods when there was a foot of snow on the ground. I’d pat the snow down and build it up around the edges making a cozy place to rest. After all my running, jumping, and climbing, I would be still and just listen to the sounds, breathing in and out… I was meditating! It was lovely! As a busy adult, I’m not able to spend as much time in nature as I would like. I have continued to meditate in yoga classes and at home but not on a regular basis until now! I just completed the ZivaOnline program and am excited to share my experience with you! Each morning I was excited to open my email and head on over to ZivaOnline to hear my daily lesson and practice Mindfulness, Meditation, and Manifesting – the 3 M’s. With the 3 M’s I found it easy to release the stress in my present moment, stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to rest and restore (Emily says this part helps to rid stress from your past), and also tap into the right, creative side of my brain. My sleep has improved, I’m calm, well-rested, and excited about this new-found creative spark. If you don’t think you have time to meditate, after this training you’ll realize you don’t have time to NOT meditate! I love the Ziva Technique and Emily Fletcher is so much fun!
After completing ZivaOnline it just so happened that a Pranayama teacher training class was being offered at my local yoga studio and the teacher was Dr. Sundar Balasubramanian, we call him Dr. Sundar. He is a Cell Biology researcher and a Yoga Biology researcher, a pioneer in the area of research combining Pranayama and salivary stimulation. Dr. Sundar discovered that Yogic breathing (pranayama) promotes salivary secretions which support healthy living. During the weekend training not only did we learn many different techniques of pranayama, but we also looked deeper noticing how much and what type of saliva was created during each different practice. He shared with us some details of his research which were impressive. Check it out on his website to learn more.
Since Dr. Sundar’s workshop, I’ve been practicing a little pranayama before I start the technique I learned from Ziva. I set my alarm 20 minutes earlier each morning and sit up in bed with my back secure, head free and begin my morning ritual.
I start by inhaling and then exhaling the sound of Om. Since my husband is sleeping next to me in the morning I say om silently but when I practice in the evening before dinner, om rides on my exhale quietly. I do this about 8 times keeping track by moving my thumb across my fingers. If you are not comfortable with om, you can hum on the exhale. I then slide right into Alternate Nostril breathing.
- On your right hand, fold your index and middle finger in, extend your thumb, ring, and pinkie
- Close your right nostril with your thumb and breath in slowly through the left nostril for the count of 2
- Close off both nostrils using your thumb, pinkie and ring finger, hold for the count of 8
- Release the right nostril and exhale slowly for the count of 4
- Inhale through the right nostril for 2
- Hold for 8
- Exhale through the left nostril for 4
- Inhale left – 2
- Hold – 8
- Exhale right – 4
- Repeat until you feel a beautiful sense of calm
Imagine going up a mountain, hanging out at the top for a bit then going down the other side. Heading back up, hanging out for a bit, then heading down the other side. Alternate nostril breathing helps to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, sharpens concentration and mental clarity, calms the mind while soothing the nervous system triggering the parasympathetic, rest and restore response. If you like, as you touch your thumb to each finger instead of counting 1,2,3… you can repeat a mantra. It can be Om Namah Shivaya, I am strong, I am beautiful, I am love or even the words, let go. The mantra draws your attention to the words rather than your thoughts and can be anything that resonates with you. It is perfectly normal for the thoughts to be popping in and out. Acknowledge them and then let them go.
At this point in my practice, my Ziva training kicks in and I begin the 3 M’s – Mindfulness, Meditation, and Manifesting. Learn more at ZivaOnline! I am so thankful for my pranayama and meditation practice! Did I mention that I am sleeping like a baby and have loads more energy? I feel great!
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