Kundalini Yoga is an ancient yoga practice that differs from much of the yoga that’s practiced in the west. There aren’t any vinyasa flows or downward dogs. It’s based on the idea that there is latent kundalini energy at the base of the spine and the practices are meant to awaken this life force through mantra, breathing techniques, and yoga postures. Ultimately, Kundalini yoga is about awakening our inner wisdom, accessing heightened states of consciousness, and simply feeling better and more alive. Many of the practices are thought to increase mental and emotional wellbeing. Here are a few very simple techniques to employ if you’re feeling like you need a reboot. Start all of these practices from a comfortable seated position with the spine straight and the eyes closed.
Breath of Fire
Breath of Fire is one of the foundational techniques in Kundalini. It involves a rapid and rhythmic breath (2-3 cycles of breath per second) while the navel pushes powerfully in and out. On the inhale, the belly rises and on the exhale, the belly falls. This breath is said to energize the whole system, clear the mind, and relieve stress.
Long Deep Breathing
This breath can be used to calm the mind and balance the emotions. When we’re anxious or stressed, the breath tends to become rapid and shallow. When we shift our breathing to more relaxed and calm breaths, our whole mood can begin to change. Long deep breathing is done through the nose and uses the whole diaphragm: the abdomen, chest, and clavicle region. When you inhale, start with your abdomen, then move the air to your chest and lastly, fill up the region near your collarbone. You should feel your whole body fill with fresh air. On the exhale, release and feel collarbone area, chest, and abdomen fall.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
This technique is said to balance the hemispheres of the brain and calm the nervous system. With the mouth closed, close your right nostril with your thumb and take a deep breath through your left. On the exhale, close the left and inhale through the right nostril. Repeat this cycle for 3-10 minutes, finishing with a long deep inhale and exhale through both nostrils.
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