Poses by Type

Mom-asana: Finding the Moment with Pranayama

The best remedy for the fast pace of parenthood? Simply taking a deep breath and seeing where it goes.

For exclusive access to all our stories, including sequences, teacher tips, video classes, and more, join Outside+ today.


Internationally recognized yoga teacher and mother of two Janet Stone, who will lead our upcoming Yoga for Moms online course (enroll now and be the first to know when this mom-inspired course launches), is offering YJ readers a series of weekly “mom-asanas” for strength, fitness, and grounding. This week’s practice: Finding the moment with pranayama.

In the hustle of all things in our society, it’s no surprise that mothering has also turned into a rush. The best remedy for the fast pace of parenthood? Simply taking a deep breath and seeing where it goes, pausing to notice what capacity we may have to take a full breath and allowing it to nourish us.

The ancient art of watching the breath isn’t the most exciting “pose,” but it’s a welcome break from allowing ourselves to be ruled by the constant spin of our thoughts. So, pranayama — which may sound more complicated than it is — becomes an opportunity to reconnect with the simplicity of the inhale and the exhale, with this moment. Pranayama, simply put, is the witnessing and directing the movement of prana (life-force) through the body on the breath. In the yoga texts, pranayama is listed as the fourth limb of the eight-limbed path. It deals with both the gross body and the subtle body; just when we think we’ve mastered it, we realize there is another layer to dive into or through.

Mom-asana of the Week

My prescription for this week is the breath of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama while the body is alert, yet at ease. This is a breath to unite what we sometimes assume are opposites — desires vs. behaviors, happy vs. sad, likes vs. dislikes — allowing us to weave a full-body experience. Physiologically, it oxygenates and balances, and who couldn’t use a bit of balancing? So, instead of heeding the pull of our fast-paced modern lifestyle, try pausing for a moment to balance yourself.

How to: Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Begin in comfortable seated position. Bring your right hand into Vishnu Mudra by folding your index and middle finger of right hand toward your palm. Gently place your thumb on the right nostril and the ring finger and little finger on the left nostril.

With the thumb, close the right nostril just below the bony part of the nose and slowly inhale through the left nostril. Bring the breath high up in the nasal passage. Close the left nostril with the little and ring fingers and exhale fully and slowly through right nostril. Then, slowly inhale through the right nostril, while the left is still closed off. Close the right nostril, release the left and exhale. This is one full cycle. You can repeat for 6-10 cycles. Once you feel comfortable with the breath, you can add kumbhaka (breath retention) at both the top of the inhale and bottom of the exhale.

San Francisco-based yoga teacher Janet Stone started her practice at age 17. A student of Max Strom and meditation teacher Prem Rawat, Stone teaches vinyasa flow at events around the world. Her new kirtan album with DJ Drez, Echoes of Devotion, hit number 1 on iTunes’s World Music chart this year. Stone has two daughters and offers this advice to moms: “Motherhood offers infinite lessons in the realms of surrender, empowerment, grace, mistakes, and patience, and then some more patience—as well as the endless unfurling of transitions and change. Practicing yoga amidst this adventure can support us in myriad ways to find our center.” Learn more about her upcoming course, Yoga for Moms.