Here are a few simple breath practices and meditations from the vast body of Kundalini Yoga technology that should be accessible to virtually anyone, and useful anytime, not just during a virus pandemic! Below I describe them in writing, and then for an audio visual demonstration, follow the links to the videos.
Practice one technique at a time and feel their effect on you. They are not meant to be done as a sequence. If you have an exercise or yoga regimen in place, you could try and start with one of the immune techniques, do a little yoga stretching or whatever other exercise regimen you have for maintenance, and then end with one of the calming practices.
Practice these techniques on an empty or near empty stomach.
Here comes the medical disclaimer: consult with your physician if you have any health issues such as hypertension or heart disease that could impact your ability to do these exercises. Since virtually no doctors know anything about yoga and contraindications and precautions for it, you can ask me instead! Women who are pregnant or in the first days of menstrual flow should not practice Dog Breath or Aerobic Capacity.
For all of the techniques below, sit cross legged on the floor, on a firm bolster or folded blanket to raise the hips higher than your knees if needed; or on the forward edge of a chair, feet on the ground. It is key to keep the spine and chest lifted, not slumped, with shoulders relaxed.
3 tools to strengthen the immune system
Hands relaxed on knees. Stick your tongue all the way out and keep it there as you begin a light even panting breath, aim for about 2 breaths per second. Instead of taking slow deep breaths to fully fill and empty the lungs, you are breathing in and out at about the mid range- never inhaling or exhaling fully. Inhalation and exhalation are even, light and relaxed. If you start to get light headed, insert a few slow deep breaths,and then begin again. If you feel a bit of tingling, you are doing it right!Use a timer and start at 30 seconds or a minute, gradually over time and practice build up to 3 minutes. To finish, take a long deep breath, hold briefly, then exhale and relax. This creates tremendous oxygenation of the blood, and is tremendously detoxifying as well.(I have incidentally found it can get rid of headache.)
Aerobic Capacity– charging the lungs and bloodstream
Hands on knees. If you are seated on a chair, spread the knees apart and bring the feet back toward the chair, feet angled outwards. Inhale deeply, lift the chest, hold the breath in as you press the tongue up against the front of the roof of the mouth behind the front upper teeth. Begin flexing the spine back and forward, keeping the head level and stationary above the hips, using the hands and arms for leverage.(See video for important details on technique) Do not let any breath leak outuntil you need to exhale, then stop flexing, relax the tongue, sit straight and forcefully exhale through the mouth. Inhale and repeat.Start at 2-3 minutes, and you can build up to 5 or 6. After finishing, sit and breathe quietly until your heart rate returns to normal and you feel steady. This can build tremendous heat in the body. Be sure to not over extend yourself: hold your breath a touch longer than the first impulse to exhale, but not to shakiness, exhaustion or lightheadedness.
Breath of Ten to become Disease Free
Arms and hands in clapping position. Hands move in and out like you are clapping but they do not touch, abruptly stopping inward motion when they are about 6 inches apart. The breath is timed with the hand movement. Inhale in 5 “stairstep” strokes through the nose, exhale in five stairstep strokes through the mouth. Each stroke is one clapping motion. (See video for important details on technique) Keep a steady rhythm and get into it! Concentrate on the energy you feel between the palms of the hands.Start at 3 to 5 minutes, go for as long as you like up to 11 – 15 minutes.To finish, inhale deeply, hold the breath 20 seconds (or the best you can) as you press your hands firmly against your face. Exhale completely. Inhale deeply, hold the breath 20 seconds as you press your hands firmly against your heart center(chest).Exhale completely. Inhale, hold your breath 20 seconds as you press your hands firmly against your navel point (belly). Exhale completely and relax.This meditation “…will put all the chakras in rhythm”.
2 Tools to soothe anxiety and calm the nervous system
“3rd Eye Breathing”
Bring your palms together in prayer position in front of your forehead, thumbs stretched to rest the tips against the slight depression in the middle of the forehead about an inch above your brow. There is a dynamic equal “lean” of your thumbs into your forehead and forehead into your thumbs, elbows out from the body but lower than the shoulders, head only slightly bent forward. Relax the shoulders down. Close your eyes and breathe very slowly and deeply in a way that does not raise or tense the shoulders and neck. 3 minutes.If you cannot relax and be comfortable with your arms “unsupported”, you can put your elbows on a table and lean into your thumbs to get much of the benefit.
Meditation for a calm heart.
Place the left hand on the center of the chest at the Heart Center. Palm is flat against the chest, fingers horizontal pointed right. With the right hand, touch the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb. With the elbow close to your side, raise the right hand up to about shoulder level, palm facing forward, the rest of the fingers pointing up. Keep wrist straight in line with forearm. Eyes are closed or nearly so -“1/10th open”.Inhale slowly and fully through the nose. Suspend the breath keeping the chest lifted, for as long as comfortable (but try for a bit past the very first impulse to exhale) Then exhale slowly and smoothly through the nose. Hold the breath out as long as comfortable (but past the very first impulse to exhale). Continue for 3 -6 minutes or longer.
To end, take 3 full breaths in and out without pause or hold. Relax.If the breath becomes raggedy or gaspy or there is agitation of any kind, shorten the duration of your breath suspensions. There should be only a feeling of peace and calm in this meditation.
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Wishing you good health and the serenity to weather these challenging times!