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Hand Crafted

The following pranayama techniques will bring balance.

By Janice Gates

Pick-up Practice

The challenge for many aspiring meditators is simply staying awake long enough to quiet a busy mind. If your body is listless, your mind dull, or your heart heavy, then this practice will help awaken your energy for meditation. A brhmana (expanding) practice is energizing and nourishing. The emphasis is on dynamic, flowing postures with large movements to wake up the body. In addition to the pose series shown here, try chest openers—like backward bends and standing poses such as the Warrior series with sweeping arm movements—to build heat and energy. Do several rounds of Sun Salutation, synchronizing your movement with your breath to help you move through sluggishness and resistance. Sun Salutation variations that include lunges or Warrior poses also help open the hips and pelvis and stretch the low back, making it easier to sit comfortably in meditation.

The focus here is not on alignment but on moving with the breath, specifically the inhalation: progressively lengthening the inhalations, inhaling in stages, and pausing before exhaling. Holding the breath for a moment after an inhalation can extend the energizing effect of an inhalation on both the mind and the body. This should be done with caution: If your breath becomes agitated at any point, return to a comfortable, natural rhythm, and keep your exhalation equal to or longer than your inhalation.

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), with palms together at your heart in Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal). Feel your thumbs rise and fall against your chest as you breathe in and out normally. Gently deepen your inhalations and lengthen your exhalations for several breaths.

On an inhalation, sweep your arms out and up to Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute), with your chest open and chin lifted, while gathering your energy and focusing it inward. Then exhale, lowering your palms to your heart in Mountain Pose. Repeat 3 times, each time increasing the length of your inhalation. Do another 3 rounds, staying for 1, 2, and then 3 breaths in Upward Salute.

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Reader Comments

Kind Essence

I wish the articles were on their own page so when I print I don't get all of the ads.


These breathing techniques are simple and are much needed in today's stressful environment. I practice these even at work for a refreshing and revitalizing pick-me-up


Great exercises, never knew there were a difference between solar, luar and alternating pranayama. Nice to know and practice!

Thank you :)

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