Summer has arrived in the blue ridge mountains where I live and work. The birds singing sweetly in the early dawn while bullfrogs barumm barumm, signaling a passing shower. I sit on my deck listening to hummingbird wings balance a tiny body mid-flight by their red sugar water feeder, hovering and altering its pitch as it moves back and forth examining the contents. With my eyes closed, the sounds I hear paint a different picture than what my eyes see. I also am no longer a body, with its material density held in place by gravity, as I travel on the sound waves to where ever my listening senses want to go.
This is a Shamanic Art of Listening exercise I shared with you in part one of this article. Now, I’d like to share with you the most effective pranayama practices for a fulfilling Sounds of the Chakras-Nada Yoga experience . . . Are You Ready?
I’ve created an hour-long practice for Sound of the Chakras (SoC) workshop attendees and vocal clients I coach. Please feel free to modify the time this practice takes so you can perform at least one of these pranayama exercises at least once a week. Otherwise, I recommend gifting yourself a full hour or more per week [ you deserve it!].
- 15 minutes + for: Inspirational Respiration and Art of Listening exercises – see part 1.
- 30 minutes for Sounding the Chakras [ SOC]
- 15 minutes + for SOC-Nada yoga meditation and SOC journaling
Know Thy Self
Keeping a SOC journal helps to stay in practice and record personal SOC modifications to fit your ever-changing self! SoC is merely a guide, so, take notes, draw or paint your Nada sound journey experiences after SoC Nada meditation and any changes in yourself: emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health through your practice that informs and inspires you!
Inspiration not Perspiration
Regarding the following pranayama breath exercises for SOC Meditation: keep in mind these practices you find here are to inspire you not perspire you! So always stay within a healthy comfort area for you. Breathing should feel effortless, energizing and calming: NOT stress you out!
NOTE: If you find you have shortness of breath, extreme dizziness, nausea or other physical, emotional or mental issues while or after doing any of these breathing exercises, please consult a healthcare provider.
Make notes of challenges and improvements in your SOC journal. The breathing exercises are for anytime you can practice whether sounding or not. I advise waiting at least an hour after eating or strenuous physical exercise. Practice in a comfortable, secure, reasonably peaceful environment with limited distractions. If possible, shut off WIFI and cell phone. You may find one or two of these pranayama offerings more to your liking or ability so choose the Pranayam that engages you to practice and add the others as you progress.
Inspirational Respiration – Pranayama Exercises for SOC – Nada Yoga
Deep Diaphragmatic Breath
Set aside a few minutes in the early morning and a few minutes in the evening to sit quietly and consciously breathe diaphragmatically. To practice diaphragmatic breathing throughout the day is even more beneficial. This can be done in any position or place. I find it is helpful to know where your diaphragm is and how it functions in order to deepen relationship. Setting one hand just below the chest or both hands on either side of the rib cage will bring more awareness to this breathing practice.
- Breathe with the diaphragm, allowing the ribs to slightly flare out to the sides, while the shoulders, upper chest, and abdomen remain motionless.
- Breathe smoothly, allowing no jerkiness or irregularities to disturb the steady flow.
- Breathe slowly, but within your comfortable capacity, not straining or getting insufficient
- Breathe at a comfortable depth; deeply, not shallow, but also not exaggerating the depth.
Allow the breath to flow continuously, with no pause, at first, allowed to the breath.
- Breathe evenly, so that exhalation and inhalation are of the same duration.
Once that is comfortable, allow the exhalation to be twice as long as the inhalation during the practice time. Begin by counting 4 for inhale and 8 for exhale. Then modify to suit your practice.
First, be aware of the motion of the diaphragm, allowing the upper chest and the abdomen to be still. Then, after a few minutes, bring your attention to the feel of the air moving in the nostrils (still doing diaphragmatic breathing). It is the cognitive sense of touch. Continue to breathe smoothly and slowly, with no jerkiness or pauses. Continue this for several more minutes. This practice can be done as a complete 15-minute breathing practice itself as well as shorter duration, incorporating other breathing exercises recommended preceding Sounds of the Chakras meditation practice.
While it should be self-evident, it needs to be pointed out that the human body is designed to use the nose for breathing, not the mouth. Unfortunately, there is a lot of advice circulated that one should breathe through the mouth. Noses are meant for breathing. They not only filter the air we are breathing but help to keep vocal tissues hydrated. Proper diaphragmatic breathing is the foundation training in preparation for the balancing and vigorous breathing practices. The benefits of learning and practicing diaphragmatic breathing are immense.
4 in one out Spinal Flex
This breath practice is done sitting in a chair with feet flat on floor, hands on knees.
- Blow all your breath out and slump your torso over your knees rag doll style. Your hands may be touching the floor in this effective forward fold spinal stretch.
- With 4 quick, deep. nostril inhalations, inflate your lungs, coming back up to starting position
- Hold breath for 4 or more seconds
- Exhale on a count of 6 or more and forward folding over knees again—take twice the time to exhale as you did to inhale and allow for complete relaxation—repeat this 3x
Complete Breath: like deep diaphragmatic but with inner awareness on inhalation placement [ abdomen->diaphragm->upper chest then reverse order] and count of breath.
- inhale abdomen [ count 1-2 secs] then
- diaphragm [ count 1-2 secs] then
- upper chest-1-2 seconds [ allow shoulders to gently raise before relaxing them and pausing at top of inhaling for 4 seconds, more or less, before exhale
- releasing your breath from shoulders/upper chest then diaphragm [ 1-2 seconds] and finally abdomen, pulling belly button back toward the spine as you hold the breath out
- pausing for 8 seconds more or less on complete exhale before inhaling again. Repeat this exercise 3 x
Spinal Breath with Chakra awareness: This is the conscious breath exercise we do after sounding the chakras and before Nada meditation. It is also incorporating Transitional Breath [pausing before and after breath]
- Bring your breath up to the 6th chakra and pause, examine the place between the eyebrows and breathe into your awareness of your 6th chakra. Then slowly release the breath and move awareness down 5->4->3->2, through each chakra to #1 chakra. Do this 3x.
- Next inhale bring awareness back to 6th chakra and then to 5th chakra, pausing there. Examine with your inner awareness your throat area and chakra. On exhale drop down again visiting each chakra as you did previously. Pause at 1st and inhale fully back up to 6th before bringing awareness back to 5th chakra—do this a total of 3x.
- Continue moving through each chakra always remembering to return to 6th before dropping into next chakra for a conscious visit.
- Meditate 5 minutes or more in this space before opening eyes while you continue to breathe and follow awareness up and down the spine in a smooth even flow.
Other Breath-work to explore and possibly add to your practice
- Kundalini Breath of Fire (Agni Prana ) [ warming and invigorating- calming when anxious ]
- Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana will be explained in Part 3 ) helps with left – right brain balance. Pineal activation and kundalini control
- Bhramari prana (“bee breath”) – making a humming sound while breathing
- Shining Skull- ( Kapalabhati breath, used in kundalini and kriya yoga )
Notes: Practice breath awareness every day–listen and pay attention to your breath. Set an alert on your phone on the hour to encourage attention/awareness to improving your conscious breath practice.
Your breathing should be effortless, even and continuous–if you find yourself holding your breath, make a note of your environment or who/ what is in your field that may be related to breath hold—if you are alone. Note what you are thinking–if you find out you are holding your breath around a person or place, situation, then make appropriate changes.
Quiet, Soundless, through the nose, if possible–if you find your nose and or sinuses congested and breathing through the nostrils impaired, continue your quiet breath with closed eyes and relax…your sinuses will eventually relax and open.
Smooth inhales and exhales through the nose–not gasping, choppy, sighing
Comfortably full – Not shallow—nor too deep
I’m repeating myself but this is important: If you find you have shortness of breath, extreme dizziness, nausea or other physical, emotional or mental disturbances or difficulties while or after doing any of these breathing exercises, please consult a healthcare provider.
In Part 3, Linda Go introduces the shamanic sounds for chakra balancing and Nada Yoga meditation.