Instructions for Pranayama
Pranayama – Balanced breathing
Sit comfortably in a chair with your back straight.
Place your left forearm across your chest and rest your right elbow in your left hand.
Hold the thumb on your right hand next to your right nostril and your two middle fingers next to your left nostril.
The exercise is performed by gently closing one nostril, then the other as you breathe.
The basic rhythm:
- Gently close the right nostril with your thumb and slowly exhale through your left nostril.
- Inhale easily through your left nostril.
- Close the left nostril with the two middle fingers and exhale through the right nostril.
- Inhale easily through the right nostril.
Continue to repeat steps one to four.
Close your eyes and gently focus your thinking on the movements of your thumb and fingers and your breath as it moves in an out of your nostrils.
There is no need to take deep breaths. Let your breathing come naturally and it will become a little slower and deeper as you relax.
Continue this exercise for up to five minutes, then lower both hands to your lap and sit comfortably with eyes closed for one or two minutes.
The exercise should not be done lying down. (Lying down is for sleeping, meditation should always be done sitting up.)
It should not be done late at night as it can cause disturbed sleep.
This exercise is ideal for early in the morning as it enlivens the mind. It can also be done as a preparation for an important task that needs a focused mind (e.g. before an exam or public speaking).
It is also ideal as a preparation for prayer or other meditation techniques.