Hi from Uluwatu Bali!

We’re deep into our Bali retreat with some beautiful elevated souls. There’s so much beauty, magic and love that surrounds us. We can’t help but get caught up in it all. Yet, we know there are many back home in the midst of a busy and bustling holiday season.

We decided to share some of our favorite breathwork practices to help with stress + anxiety and to slow things down. Breathwork is a great tool to use to center + balance yourself especially when you’re overwhelmed.

Everything goes back to your breath or your prana. You are alive because of your breath, it is the currency of life. You are a living, BREATHING soul. Sometimes we forget to breathe deeply. Sometimes we forget we can control the rhythm of our life + existence if we just remember to inhale then exhale deeply and consciously.

Danny Pennman, PhD author of Mindfulness and The Art of Breathing says:

Your breath is the greatest asset you have. It’s naturally meditative and always with you. It reflects your most powerful emotions and allows you to either soothe or harness them. It helps you to feel solid, whole, and in complete control of your life while grounding in the present moment, clarifying the mind, and unshackling your instincts. The art of breathing kindles a sense of wonder, awe, and curiousity—the very foundations of a happier and more meaningful life. It grants you the courage to accept yourself with all of your faults and failings. To treat yourself with the kindness, empathy, and compassion that you truly need, and helps you to look outward and embrace the world.

We are huge fans of breathwork or Pranayama! It’s the foundation of Kundalini + meditation. We depend on it so much throughout the day. Plus, you can practice it ANYWHERE - your car, room, shower - wherever! Here are some of our favorite, delicious Pranayama techniques, especially for stress.

Long Deep Breathing

This is usually the first breathwork taught in Kundalini and is great for relaxation. Slowing your breathing down and taking a controlled, deep breath turns off the sympathetic nervous system by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). The PSNS controls your body’s “rest-and-digest” (vs. fight-or-flight) response for returning to balance and stability. Deep breaths are a signal to your body that you’re ready to rest and digest, making this technique so important.

  1. Sit in easy pose and rest your palms either in your lap or on your knees (either with palms facing up for receiving or facing down for grounding).
  2. After a few normal breaths for stillness, move your right hand to your belly and your left over your heart.
  3. Take in a deep inhale through your nose, expanding your belly outward.
  4. Slowly exhale through your nose, letting your stomach contract in.
  5. Repeat three times filling your belly then your ribs then your chest, continue for 3 minutes.

Breath of Fire

Breath of Fire is so foundational to the Kundalini Yoga practice. It’s good to sometimes get a refresher even if you’ve been doing this for years and especially if you’re feeling stressed + overwhelmed. Breath of Fire is great to come back to for cleansing and energizing your system. Breath of Fire is where air is pulled in through the nose and pumped rhythmically through the body, without any tension being felt. It is powered from the navel point and solar plexus.

How to do it:

  1. Sit tall in easy pose, lengthening the space between your naval and heart.
  2. Place your hands on your knees in gyan mudra (thumb tips & index fingers touching).
  3. Tuck your chin down and back so your spine is in a straight line.
  4. Breathe in and out through the nose, expanding your stomach out on the inhale and contracting your stomach in on the exhale. Imagine your belly fills up with air during the inhale and use your abdominal muscles to push the air out during the exhale. Focus on the breath being equal parts inhale and exhale.
  5. During the exhale, the air is pushed out powerfully through the nose, pressing your navel point and solar plexus back toward your spine. While on the inhale, your upper abdomen relaxes and your diaphragm extends.
  6. Practice for 1-3 minutes.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This breathwork technique is great for balancing the right and left side of the hemispheres of the brain, creating an overall sense of well-being, grounding and harmony. Ancient yogic texts explain that the nostril on the right is our sun nostril and just like the sun it’s energizing; our left nostril is our lunar nostril, connected to the moon, and it controls our emotional state. When we breathe long and deeply through alternate nostrils, the whole nervous system is soothed, calmed and energized simultaneously.

  1. Sit in easy pose and using the thumb and index finger of your right hand, make a “U” shape.
  2. We’ll use the thumb to close off the right nostril and index finger to close off the left.
  3. First, close the left nostril with the index finger, inhale deeply into the belly through the right nostril. At the end of the inhale, close the right nostril and exhale deeply through the left nostril.
  4. Now inhale through the left nostril fully and deeply, then close the left nostril and exhale through the right one.
  5. Again, inhale through the right nostril and continue alternate nostril breathing. The breath must be complete and full on both the inhalation and exhalation cycles.
  6. Repeat for 3-5 minutes and finish with a deep inhale and slow exhale.

We are greeted by a magical New Moon in Sagittarius this week in the early morning of December 7. Sagittarius season is all about expanding your reality and not be afraid to make those new changes. The Sagittarius New Moon is a time to manifest and envision a balanced + elevated version of you. Join us in 528 Academy for a beautiful meditation to help strengthen the nervous system (so needed during the holiday season) as well as our book of the month and a delicious sweet potato dish.  We’ll be mixing things up this month and will hold our LIVE Kundalini Yoga class for the Full Moon on December 22 at 6:30pm PT. Can’t wait to see you there!!

What are some of your favorite Pranayama Techniques? Share with us below! You can also join our community on Facebook for more tips + tools!