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Nanima’s Yoga Class

I’m staying with my Nanima and Nanabapa for a few days and this morning I went along to my Nanima’s yoga class. She’s been teaching for the past nine years or so and practises every morning – making her way fitter and more flexible than I am (it’s actually quite embarrassing!) I seriously hope that I’m as healthy as her when I’m in my seventies!!

So I wanted to share with you today a few of the main breathing exercises she does with her class. Breathing techniques (known as Pranayama) are an essential part of traditional yoga, bringing balance to the body, both mentally and physically. I often use some of these breathing techniques when I have a bad headache, am stressed or if I can’t get to sleep and they work a treat.

A quick health warning for the Kapaal Bhaati, Baahya and Agnisaar breathing techniques – please do not use them if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, on your period, less than six months after surgery or if you suffer from heart or blood pressure problems.

Bhastrika

Time: 5 minutes

Method: Close your eyes and breath in and out evenly for roughly 2 to 3 seconds each

Benefits: Strengthens lungs helping with respiratory problems and calms the mind

Kaapal Bhaati

Time: Start with 5 minutes and build gradually to 15 minutes

Method: Close your eyes, breath in and then sharply exhale while pulling your stomach in. Repeat approximately at a stroke a second, but build up to this rate gradually.

Benefits: Helps regulate weight and strengthens the digestive, respiratory and immune systems

Baahya

Time: 3 to 5 times

Method: Breath in deeply, then exhale completely while pulling your stomach in. Hold your breath for 10 to 15 seconds (or as long as you can manage to start!) with your head down, touching your chin to your chest. If you have any neck or back pain then don’t move your head down.

Benefits: Helps abdominal problems and digestion, as well as improving concentration

Agnisaar

Time: 3 to 5 times

Method: This is the same as Baahya but instead of holding your stomach in, tense and release it repeatedly while holding your breath.

Benefits: As with Baahya, it helps abdominal problems and digestion as well as improving concentration

Uijaye

Time: 3 to 5 times

Method: Tighten your throat and take in as much air as you can. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and then close your right nostril with your thumb and breath out from your left nostril.

Benefits: Helps strengthen the body, prevents sinus problems and regulates blood flow and cholesterol

Anulom Vilom

Time: Start with 5 minutes and build gradually to 15 minutes

Method: Breath through alternate nostrils. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and breath in deeply through your left nostril. Then close your left nostril with the middle two fingers of your right hand and breath out through your right nostril. Then breath in through your right nostril, switch and breath out through your left nostril… and so on…

Benefits: Helps purify and improves oxygen levels in the blood, prevents sinus problems and regulates blood flow and cholesterol

Bhraamri

Time: 3 to 5 times

Method: This is definitely my most used breathing technique – when I have a bad headache, after having a glass of water, this is my go-to remedy and works much better than a paracetamol in my opinion! Close your ears with your thumbs and place your fingers just above your eyebrows and around your eye area, applying gentle pressure. Breath in slowly through your nose and then say ‘Om’ and hum for as long as possible. Repeat 3 to 5 times and you’ll hopefully notice that your head feels much clearer!

Benefits: Headache relief, improves concentration and lowers stress

Udgeeth

Time: 3 to 5 times

Method: Close your eyes and breath in deeply. Say ‘Om’ and hum for as long as possible.

Benefits: Improves concentration, lowers stress and helps reduce high blood pressure and heart problems

Pranav

Time: 2 minutes

Method: To end your yoga session, keep your eyes closed and focus on a steady breathing pace. After a couple of minutes, rub your hands together til warm and place them over your eyes. Slowly open your eyes and lower your hands.

Benefits: Calms the mind and helps relaxation

I hope you enjoy these breathing techniques and find them useful!

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