A Yoga Lesson

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Yoga Lesson

Sorry for the late post. I'm a bit of a mess this week. But I found this post from one of my old blogs, so I thought I'd share it. Enjoy! :)

I'll admit it. I have the hardest time focusing. Background noises such as the television, a conversation, dogs barking...noises that occur frequently throughout the day I find incredibly distracting. One moment, I'm happily writing a chapter in my story. The next, I find myself struggling to shut out the background noise, my focus jumping from my story to reality and back again until I think I might go crazy. So, I flipped my sleeping schedule around. I began staying up all night, when background noise was the least likely to exist, and sleeping all day. This was great in theory and certainly helped me for a while, but it didn't take long for a halo of darkness to surround my green eyes. Sleep deprivation also made me irritable, negative, and unproductive. What could I do, though? I needed to focus to write and I couldn't have focus without quiet. How could I quiet the world around me?

My search for the answer to that question led me to a yogic breathing technique called Alternate Nostril Breathing. Supposedly, by balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain and evoking a sense of calm, you could increase mental clarity and focus. I was a skeptic at first. We breathe all the time. In and out during every second of every day. It's involuntary. I didn't see how making it voluntary and changing the technique would make focusing easier. However, then I tried it, and now it's my go-to technique whenever my reality is louder than my story, and it's so easy there's no reason not to try it and see if it works for you.

You start by sitting in a comfortable position with your spine as straight as possible. Breathe normally for a few breaths, feel your shoulders relax away from your ears. Then, take your right hand and fold your index finger and middle finger into your palm. This might feel a bit awkward, and your ring finger might not want to stand up straight, but that's okay.

Next, close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale fully through your left nostril. Lift your right thumb off of your right nostril and close the left nostril with the right ring finger. Exhale slowly and fully through the right nostril. Without lifting your ring finger, inhale through the right nostril, feel the breath fill your lungs. Then, close the right nostril with your right thumb again and exhale through your left nostril.

If it helps, I'll break it down into steps:

1. Sit up straight as comfortably as you can.2. Breathe normally for a few breaths while relaxing your shoulders.3. Fold your index and middle fingers of your right hand into your palm.4. Using your right thumb, close your right nostril.5. Inhale through your open, left nostril.6. While holding your breath, take your thumb off of your right nostril.7. Still holding your breath, close your left nostril with your right ring finger.8. Exhale fully through your right nostril then inhale.9. While holding your breath again, lift your ring finger off your left nostril and use your right thumb to close your right nostril again.10. Exhale completely through your left nostril then inhale.

Basically, all you're doing is alternating breathing through each nostril. You inhale through one and exhale through the other. If you inhale through your left nostril, you'll exhale through your right. Then you'll inhale through your right, and exhale through your left. You can repeat for however long it takes to feel focused or relaxed. If this is still confusing try using just one finger (whichever one is easiest for you) to cover up one of your nostrils. Inhale then cover up your opposing nostril with your chosen finger and exhale. The point of this technique is to alternate the sides. Inhaling through one, exhaling through the other. People tend to get confused as to which nostril they're supposed to breathe through. The solution is simple. An inhale through one nostril should be immediately followed up by an exhale through the opposite nostril. An exhale, though, should be immediately followed up by an inhale through the same nostril. Exhale through opposite. Inhale through same. As long as you can manage that, you should feel the benefits of the technique.

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