Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
svara = sound, air breathed through the nostrils
Traditionally the five “elements” that make up our body-mind (and the entire material universe)—earth, water, fire, air, “ether”—are each energetically associated with a fixed point on the linings of our nostrils. So it’s possible to influence and transform our body-mind by channeling our breath over or away from these points.
This exercise is a variation of the traditional teaching, since our two points are non-traditional and not elementally potent, and our immediate goal is simply to become better acquainted with our breath. These points (two in each nostril) are the “inner nostril” just beside the septum, and the “outer nostril,” underneath the “wing” (ala) of the nose.
Step by Step
- Sit comfortably and attend to your breath as it passes in and out through your nostrils. It’s likely you’ll feel a difference between the two; your inhale, for example, is touching your right nostril near the septum, but your left nostril below the wing.
- Watch for a minute or two, then begin to channel (or “narrow”) your inhales across your inner nostrils. Continue for a minute or two.
- After breathing normally for 30 seconds, begin to channel (or “widen”) your exhales beneath s your outer nostrils, “widening” your breath. Again continue for a minute or two, then return to normal breathing for 30 seconds.
- Finally combine the inner and outer breaths and breath slowly for a few minutes. You can practice this version of Svara Yoga during Ujjayi or Kapalabhati (on the exhale).
Svara Yoga Pranayama
Contraindications and Cautions
- Avoid Surya Bhedana if you have high blood pressure or heart disease
- Don’t do both breaths on the same day
- Increases breath awareness and control