Did your self-reflection reveal a rapid breathing pattern? Was your jaw clenched? Were you feeling anxious or irritable? Many of us are regularly in overdrive, and coming to sit for meditation at the end of a hectic day can feel like a jolting brake in a speeding car. Langhana (reducing) practices are calming, and can help you shift gears and transition smoothly into meditation. The practices are cooling and calming, designed to eliminate and reduce excess energy, thoughts, and strong emotions.
The emphasis in a langhana practice is on exhaling and holding poses—such as seated forward bends and twists—for several seconds. Less attention is paid to alignment and more to hugging the belly in toward the spine during exhalations, which lengthen progressively. Holding the breath for a moment after an exhalation can extend the calming effects, but this can be challenging. If your breath becomes strained, simply lengthen the exhalation and skip the pause.