Every life begins with an inhale and ends with an exhale; all mistakes, heartaches, and triumphs lie somewhere in between. The breath is with you your entire life, and it is the pathway to existing in the present and experiencing the true self. The practice of yoga grants us the opportunity to arrive in beautiful postures, however, without the breath, yoga is only stretching the physical aspects of the self. A steady and constant breathing pattern creates balance in the body and stillness in the mind, allowing us to go deeper inside ourselves. Sukhasana, or Easy Pose, is a comfortable place to be for a few rounds of breath. Arrive in your body by encouraging the breath to reach to the corners of your being, inviting light into the mind and body. Imagine the crown of your head expanding with each inhale, and with each exhale the seat grows roots into the ground. Creating room in the body with the breath creates room in the mind for meditation, which is why pranayama, or breathing exercises, are fundamental to an all-encompassing yoga experience. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama, (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is a popular Kundalini exercise, used to ease the mind into meditation, and calm the body in times of stress. An easy and soothing exercise, Nadi Shodhan is a glowing example of a way that yoga can ease the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Nadi = subtle energy change, Shodhan= cleansing; purification. During this practice, find a comfortable seat, preferably with the hips above the knees. Often an exercise that follows an asana practice, Nadi Shodhan Pranayama will quiet the mind and allow the body to relax for meditation.
In the following video, I chose a location in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Sitting on a dock over briny water even further amplifies the benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing, specifically if you are experiencing nasal congestion. The beauty of this city is never ending, and its magnitude inspires me every day.