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  1. Kapalabhati - Shining SkullAlso called the "Shining Skull" this practice emphasizes the exhalation in a very quick, thrusting motion at the base of the abdomen. The inhalation is then allow to release naturally. Unless there are health problems, most people can do this practice. To do a few before meditation, such as 10-20 or so can have a centering effect.

          

  2. Two to OneBreathingIn practicing basic breathing, you first learn to make the exhalation and inhalation of equal length, and then eliminate the irregularities mentioned above.

    Then, you practice making exhalation twice as long as the inhalation. For example, you may time your breath so that you exhale for a count of 6 seconds, and inhale for a count of 3 seconds, or about 6-7 breaths per minute.

    You work with the rates of breathing to find the most comfortable speed for you. For example, 4:2, 6:3, 8:4, 10:5, 12:6, where the first number is the number of seconds of exhalation, and the second (smaller) number is the number of seconds of inhalation. You can simply count internally for a minute or so, and then let go of the counting so as to just practice and observe the breathing.

    Two-to-One breathing has a very relaxing effect on the autonomic nervous system and is great preparation for meditation.

          

  3. RetentionBrahmari means the "bee." In this practice the lips are closed, and you gently, smoothly make a sound like a buzzing bee in your throat. This simple practice is quite effective in making the breath smooth and allowing the mind to become quiet. You can feel the vibration of the sound in the areas of your throat, jaws, and mouth.

    This practice is so straightforward and useful that it can be taught to anyone, regardless of their background. It is best done for 2-3 minutes.

          

  4. Jala NetiIn Ujjai breathing, the glottis is partially closed. The glottis is that part in the throat area that closes when you swallow, but which is open when you breath. When you partially close the glottis while breathing, you can hear a sound resonate from within, as well as feel a flow of air on the palate. A slightly different sound is heard on inhalation and exhalation.

    During inhalation, one tightens the abdominal muscles very slightly, and during exhalation the abdominal muscles are used to exhale completely.

    One feels the air and listens to the sound during the practice. Sounds like the sea or the wind.

          

  5. Nadi ShodhanaAlternate Nostril Breathing

    When the energy is not balanced, one of the most visible ways in which this is seen, is in the nostrils. Most of the time, one or the other nostril is more dominant, allowing air to move more freely. This is quite a natural process. However, when they are flowing evenly, the mind really likes to be quiet and meditate.

    Alternate Nostril breathing is a method where you consciously work with that energy by regulating the physical breath in one or the other nostril. This in turn effects the energy and mind. It brings balance, and allows the energy to flow in the center, rather than on the left or right side.

    To control the flow of breath, one usually begins by using their fingers to block off one nostril so as to allow the other to flow. Then, the fingers are moved so as to block the opposite nostril, and allow the previously blocked nostril to flow. This cycle will be repeated several times.

    One method of alternate nostril breathing that is easy to understand (when written down like this) is to exhale and inhale from one nostril five times. Then, do five times with the other nostril. That is called a "round." Doing three rounds is a complete practice. There are a variety of different patterns of doing alternate nostril breathing (such as the five on each side method).

    This physical act really does have an effect on the autonomic nervous system, and allows one to become "centered" in such a way that both nostrils are flowing smoothly. In this state, the mind is also quite relaxed.

    Gradually, one learns to do this with attention, not the fingers, allowing attention to move from one to the other nostril. One sits quietly, with eyes closed, and simply places attention on the nostril.

          

  6. Elongating breathIn basic breathing, one eliminates the pause between the breaths. For one doing retention practices, which are different practices, a pause is intentionally created so as to arouse energy.

    Eliminate the pause completely: However, there is another way to deal with the pause and retention. That is, eliminate the pause completely, and then gently, over time allow the breath to elongate. Reflect on this for a moment, and you will come to see that elongating the breath gradually leads to a virtual retention of breath, though without actively restraining it. When the breath naturally becomes very slow, it is as if, it is not moving at all.

    Allowing breath to slow: Lie on your back in the corpse posture, and put your attention on the navel center, or going up and down the spine. You can gradually allow the speed of breath to slow, though still having no pause.

    10 second breath: When you notice it naturally slow to about a 10-second breath (exhalation and inhalation), there will be relaxation.

    15-20 second breath: When it slows naturally to about 15-20 seconds (3-4 breaths per minute) you will be quite relaxed (presuming it feels natural, not forced).

    30-60 second breath: When it naturally slows to about 30-60 seconds for one breath (1-2 breaths per minute), you will be at the doorway of deep meditation, provided you are not straining, and do not sleep.

    90 second breath: A rate of 90 seconds for one breath can be used as a target to aim for, allowing six months or more to reach this level. To do this naturally, without straining will probably require having a well balanced life, regular physical exercise, a healthy diet, and regular sleep.

    Towards samadhi: These slower breathing rates gradually move one towards deep meditation and samadhi.

    The masters: A Yoga master might have only one breath in 10 minutes (though we need not pursue this, or feel that this is necessary to have deep meditation or samadhi; actually it comes as a result of samadhi)

    The practice of eliminating the pause
    and elongating the breath is a
    most direct route, or short cut.

    A short cut: This process of Elongating the breath is thus a short-cut (direct route) for most people. It is very gentle, and very loving to your body, nervous system and your mind. It allows you to progress at your own, natural rate. (During the breath practices on the Yoga Nidra CD the breathing naturally slows.)

    The simple is advanced: Oddly, this practice seems too simple, too basic, but this simple practice is profound and is quite advanced. This is one of the reasons that people are usually told to not meditate lying down. Usually you will go to sleep. For meditation, the corpse posture is an advanced practice. However, if you can lie down in the corpse posture, and yet remain wide awake while the breath slows, it will take you very deep. The key is to be gentle, patient, and to stay awake. Remember that it is best to have a healthy lifestyle, good food, exercise, and regular sleep.

          

  7. Deergha swasam (Complete Breath) or 3 Part BreathThough not performed in a vigorous way, the Complete Breath is quite invigorating. The Complete Breath involves the abdomen, diaphragm and chest muscles. You breathe sequentially in three ways, and then reverse the process.

    First, inhale completely at the abdomen.

    Second, continue to inhale by filling in the mid-section, the area of the diaphragm.

    Third, continue to inhale by filling the chest, allowing the upper chest and the shoulders to rise.

    Then systematically release and empty from the upper portion, then the mid-section, and finally empty completely at the abdomen.

    The Complete Breath is good to do whenever you meditate. Even 2-3 breaths will have a useful effect.

          

  8. SandbagYou should know, understand, and do agnisara. It is a very unique and useful exercise that has the benefits of all the other exercises. If you cannot do any other physical exercise on a particular day, at least do this one exercise. It cures many diseases.

    Agnisara is different from the stomach lift and it is important not to confuse it. Unlike the stomach lift, which focuses at the navel center, agnisara is an exercise for the lower abdomen and pelvic region. It is called "agnisara" because it energizes the entire solar system of the body. The solar system is the largest network in the human body and agnisara provides warmth to this entire system.

    To do agnisara, stand with your feet about six inches apart and rest the weight of your body through your arms on your knees, keeping the back relaxed. Then as you exhale, contract the muscles in the lower abdomen and pull them in and up. As you inhale, you gently release the muscles, allowing the lower abdomen to return to its natural position. When you pull in the abdomen it helps you to expell all the waste gasses of the lungs. When you allow the abdomen to come out, it creates more space in your lungs for oxygen. You should make this exercise a habit.

    To do agnisara correctly, coordinate it with your normal breathing. You exhale, pulling in and up and you inhale and release. Exhaling, you contract the lower abdominal muscles and the area just above the pelvis, drawing them inward and upward, more tightly; and then inhaling, you release. It is not a stomach lift; it involves the lower abdomen. This is the real agnisara.

    The exercise starts with the pelvis and ends at the pelvis. If you can do agnisara 100 to 150 times a day, you do not need any other exercise. You will have so much energy you will feel like you are floating. It creates perfect digestion and terrific energy. You will become more efficient in any field. Begin the practice of agnisara with twenty-five repetitions and increase to beyond a hundred.

    This exercise should not be done by pregnant of menstruating women. - Swami Rama

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBjnograjq4

          

  9. Spinal breathThere are a variety of practices with awareness moving up and down the spine with the breath. One may do this practice between particular energy centers (chakras) or form different shapes of the visualized flow, including elliptical or a figure-eight. (Spinal breath is part of the Yoga Nidra CD)

    The most straight forward, and yet completely effective method is to:

    Imagine the breath flowing from the top of the head, down to the base of the spine on exhalation, and to

    Imagine the flow coming from the base of the spine to the top of the head on inhalation.

    This may be done lying down, or in a seated meditation posture.

    One may simply experience the breath, or may be aware of a thin, milky white stream flowing in a straight line, up and down. This practice is very subtle when experienced at its depth, and can turn into a profoundly deep part of meditation practice.

    Sometimes the breath practices along the spine are considered to be part of, one and the same with Kriya Yoga or Kundalini Yoga, as well as Raja Yoga or Hatha Yoga.

          

  10. Corpse PostureAutomatically breathe from the diaphragm: The crocodile is a particular posture in which you are lying on your front side, with your abdomen and lower chest on the floor, and your legs stretched out behind you. Your forehead rests on folded arms, with your upper chest lifted off the floor. In this posture, you will automatically breath from your diaphragm. Your chest will automatically be still.

    By practicing this posture, two things happen. First, you get the relaxation benefits in the moment, from breathing diaphragmatically. Second, you can internally pay attention to the feel of the breath, and notice the stillness of the chest, the immobility in the lower abdomen, and the strong way in which the diaphragm is operating. By observing this internally, it is then easier to take this awareness and method with you when you leave the posture.

          

  11. Walking breathThere are a variety of practices with awareness moving up and down the spine with the breath. One may do this practice between particular energy centers (chakras) or form different shapes of the visualized flow, including elliptical or a figure-eight. (Spinal breath is part of the Yoga Nidra CD)

    The most straight forward, and yet completely effective method is to:

    Imagine the breath flowing from the top of the head, down to the base of the spine on exhalation, and to

    Imagine the flow coming from the base of the spine to the top of the head on inhalation.

    This may be done lying down, or in a seated meditation posture.

    One may simply experience the breath, or may be aware of a thin, milky white stream flowing in a straight line, up and down. This practice is very subtle when experienced at its depth, and can turn into a profoundly deep part of meditation practice.

    Sometimes the breath practices along the spine are considered to be part of, one and the same with Kriya Yoga or Kundalini Yoga, as well as Raja Yoga or Hatha Yoga.

          

  12. Brahmari:Brahmari means the "bee." In this practice the lips are closed, and you gently, smoothly make a sound like a buzzing bee in your throat. This simple practice is quite effective in making the breath smooth and allowing the mind to become quiet. You can feel the vibration of the sound in the areas of your throat, jaws, and mouth.

    This practice is so straightforward and useful that it can be taught to anyone, regardless of their background. It is best done for 2-3 minutes.

          

  13. Metta MeditationCausing energy to arise: There are a variety of forms of breath retention. These are very stimulating, and cause energy to awaken and arise. However, that energy needs to be trained to be used in positive ways. Otherwise the energy just becomes nervous tension.

    If you examine the effects of breath retention on the autonomic nervous system, you will see that it creates sympathetic arousal, or stress, unless one has advanced in their physical, emotion, and mental health to a certain point.

    Preparation is essential: The key to doing breath retention is that there must be preparation. As with the vigorous breathing practices, retention is not essential. Attaining a natural slowing to a 90-second breath, with no pauses is the preparation for retention (as described in the Elongating practice below).

          

  14. Bhastrika (Bellows) BreathAlso called the Bellows, Bhastrika is a middle section breath, from the diaphragm. If one does a few of them, say about 10-20, it can have a calming, balancing effect. If more are done, such as in the 100's or more, it is best that one have a solid foundation of good health and stabilized mind.

          

  15. Crocodile postureAutomatically breathe from the diaphragm: The crocodile is a particular posture in which you are lying on your front side, with your abdomen and lower chest on the floor, and your legs stretched out behind you. Your forehead rests on folded arms, with your upper chest lifted off the floor. In this posture, you will automatically breath from your diaphragm. Your chest will automatically be still.

    By practicing this posture, two things happen. First, you get the relaxation benefits in the moment, from breathing diaphragmatically. Second, you can internally pay attention to the feel of the breath, and notice the stillness of the chest, the immobility in the lower abdomen, and the strong way in which the diaphragm is operating. By observing this internally, it is then easier to take this awareness and method with you when you leave the posture.

          

  16. Soham mantraAwareness and strength: When you are first learning breathing practices, including breath awareness and diaphragmatic, the use of a sandbag can both increase awareness and strengthen the diaphragm muscle.

    The sandbag is about 10-14 pounds, and is placed on your upper abdomen and lower chest area while you lie in the corpse posture. The weight will significantly increase your awareness of breathing in this area, and will also force the muscles to push against the weight of the sandbag, making them stronger.

    Sandbags are commercially available, or you can make your own. One alternative is to purchase a 10 pound (or 5kg) bag of rice. Wrap it in a cloth or a towel, or put it in a pillow case, and place that on your upper abdomen / lower chest. After you have practiced with it long enough, you can eat the rice!

          

  17. UjayiIn Ujjai breathing, the glottis is partially closed. The glottis is that part in the throat area that closes when you swallow, but which is open when you breath. When you partially close the glottis while breathing, you can hear a sound resonate from within, as well as feel a flow of air on the palate. A slightly different sound is heard on inhalation and exhalation.

    During inhalation, one tightens the abdominal muscles very slightly, and during exhalation the abdominal muscles are used to exhale completely.

    One feels the air and listens to the sound during the practice. Sounds like the sea or the wind.

          

  18. AgnisaraAwareness and strength: When you are first learning breathing practices, including breath awareness and diaphragmatic, the use of a sandbag can both increase awareness and strengthen the diaphragm muscle.

    The sandbag is about 10-14 pounds, and is placed on your upper abdomen and lower chest area while you lie in the corpse posture. The weight will significantly increase your awareness of breathing in this area, and will also force the muscles to push against the weight of the sandbag, making them stronger.

    Sandbags are commercially available, or you can make your own. One alternative is to purchase a 10 pound (or 5kg) bag of rice. Wrap it in a cloth or a towel, or put it in a pillow case, and place that on your upper abdomen / lower chest. After you have practiced with it long enough, you can eat the rice!

          

  19. Agniprasana (Breath of fire)https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=86&v=ZBjnograjq4

    It is also one of the basic breathing exercises for Kundallini yoga. Done properly, it clears toxins and deposits from the lungs, mucous linings cells and blood vessel. This breathing technique is known to increase the lung capacity and vital strength. Some benefits of this exercise include:

    Stimulating the solar plexus to release energy throughout the body
    Keeping the blood purified if done for 5 to 15 minutes every day.
    Regulating the pituitary gland and nervous system if done for 31 minutes every day.
    Raising the voltage of nervous system and strengthening shaky nerves
    Increasing physical endurance in need of competitive or survival situations
    Producing alpha rhythm in the brain which is essential for meditation
    The list of benefits of this exercise is endless. However, caution must be used if you are suffering from high blood pressure, heart diseases, epilepsy or stroke. Avoid this exercise if you are menstruating or heat related gastric issues such as ulcers. Also, stop the exercise you feel dizzy or are suffering from vertigo.