Yoga for Body & Mind with Jasmine Tarkeshi Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 3

Our Miraculous Breath

15 min - Practice
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Jasmine shares a talk on the magnificence and importance of the breath. She then guides us into a pranayama practice, Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril) breathing to find balance and calm.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

Sep 19, 2017
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Namaste. Welcome. Today I'm so excited to share with you the most important part of my practice, my yoga practice, and perhaps my life. And that is the breath. So our breath plays the most integral role, not only throughout our practice, whether it's meditation or asana, but basically throughout our life. Our breath is responsible for most of the functioning of our body. It's responsible for all the movements in our body. It gives us life as well as it being such an incredible reflection for our moods and our emotions and our states of mind. So in yoga, yoga's basic meaning of the union between the mind and body, it's the breath that unites the mind with the body. With every inhale and with every exhale, the mind becomes more integrated within the body. It also not only connects us to our own body, but since it's the same breath we're all breathing, throughout breathing we're connected to every body. In Sanskrit and even in the yoga practice, the breathing practices are called prana yama. So prana is our life force. Prana is what makes us live. It's what makes everything function. And ayama means to extend. It means to control. So in this way, we're being able to bring consciousness to our breath. We're learning to master and to affect the very quality of our life. And breathing's happening all the time. We're breathing all the time. But when we make it conscious, it's making things that are unconscious conscious, though that in itself is such a powerful tool, as yoga's main purpose is to keep us awake. So when we bring just simple awareness to this breath that we're breathing, that we're alive, that we're in each moment, the quality of our life changes dramatically. So in my book, I describe many different breathing practices. And the breathing practices or techniques, again are meant to control and to affect our moods and our emotions in many different ways. So it really is getting to know yourself and then again, what you need at any given moment. So there's breathing practices or techniques to calm the mind, to soothe the mind, to soothe the nervous system by slowing down the breath and experiencing more diaphragmatic breathing and a deeper exhale. It's meant to be that the whole body and the nervous system relaxes and it drops out of this flight or fight response, which is the general pattern of most of our breathing is short, it's shallow, it's up in our chest, our shoulders get really tense.

So just dropping it down allows the body to come more into a rest and digest response. This calms the mind and has so many different benefits to our health. So just that, just that aware, slower breath is powerful in itself. But the magic of the breath is that it can uplift our moods if we need it, if we're feeling sluggish, if we're feeling depressed, we can do practices. I think I have a couple of them in there. One of them is called bellows breath. So it's a very dynamic breath. You can imagine fanning the flame. It can heat us up since we're using the breath to fan our inner fire and our flames, awaken us. It can even create the same experience as aerobic exercise. So we can really serotonin in our brain, all that great high, let's just say we get from, from exercise. So it awakens our metabolism by because what do we do when we're running? Our breath begins to pick up. So we can take these breathing practices no matter how able bodied we are, and we can again use it to affect our inner and our and our external moods. The same goes for we can cool down the temperature of our body through more cooling breaths. And then the balance, which for me is such a necessity, maybe for you to, there's balancing breathing. And this is a practice that I'm going to share with you called Nadi Shodhana that we can practice together today right away to be able to feel its powerful effects as it balances the two hemispheres of our brain. Because usually it's one side against the other. And this is a, is able to bring them together for again, this more balanced emotional state. So we're not dropping down and experiencing a more steady balanced state. Before we get started, one thing that's really interesting, just to realize a little tip for this power of our breath, again, that really begins to regulate everything. When we begin to tune into it, experience its magic at first through the mat, and it may be, it's very challenging because it is something that we're doing all the time. And it took me a long time. I was like, I'm already breathing. It's the big deal. And it seems so much more boring than doing these fantastic shapes, but we're creating those shapes with our breath. So we're really affecting our inner world in such an extraordinary way. And so you realize that by mastering our breath, we can master our thoughts, we can master our emotions and our practice. We're using our breath to actually master our movements because every breath, every movement is done with the breath. So if we want a posture to be something that's uplifted or something like a backbend, you can even try it. You can try to exhale your arms up over your head right now. It's really going against gravity. So your breath is helping you move into the postures. So the inhale naturally comes up. The exhale takes us more into forward bends. So we get to master our movements and our lives through our breath. But it starts with one simple thing. And again, this may seem a little counterintuitive and really weird is that every breath cycle in yoga starts with the exhale. So the tendency is to say inhale with every breath and I still do it. But it's from that deep exhale that even makes space for this new breath to come in, to make space for life to come in and to be fully present. So let's go ahead and get started. Let's check this out, especially if pranayama or reading practices are new for you or whether you've been doing them for a long time. We're going to take this practice called nadi shodana, balancing breath. Our nadis are the channels within just kind of like nerves for the breath. Nadi even means stream. So you can imagine your body's made out of even 72,000 of these streams or channels that carry prana, your life force throughout your body to your organs for everything to function properly. So, so much of the asanas of the practices are to clear out these nadis. So it's this purification of these channels so that our life force can move through us a lot easier and that they're, they get so blocked tendency to slump in the way that we sit. But there's two main ones in our body, three main ones, which are directly connected to these two hemispheres of our brains. So we have the Ida nadi, which is the lunar nadi. So they're solar and they're lunar. Again, having to do with these two sides of our brain, the left and the right. So the right brain is more the lunar side of the brain are more creative and are more intuitive brains. And it's our left brain that's connected to the pingala channel or our solar. So we're coming to join all opposites for this experience of as much non duality within our life so that we can also view the world in that same way. So we're going to alternate the breath from right to left so that we're clearing both of the channels out. Sometimes if we feel ourselves only stuck in one particular pattern, it's probably because it's overworking. So this daily balancing, it's like playing an instrument, whatever instrument that you play, we've got to first tune it. So whether it's your guitar or flute, whatever it is, we take some time playing some scales and tuning our instruments so that everything can move through. So with your left hand, you can simply rest it on your left knee or join your thumb and index finger for a more focused and concentrated gesture. And then with your right hand, you're going to take your right middle finger in towards your hand and then the left one. Then you're going to use your thumb, this is called the Vishnu mudra or dear mudra, your thumb and your ring finger to alternate sides. So you can gently rest your ring finger and your thumb on the right. I'm actually going to take off my glasses.

Put them over to the side. You can do too if you wear glasses. So then your gaze even turns inward. Close your eyes and then your third eye is awake. So keep the chest lifted. You want the diaphragm free, this muscle that we use for breathing. So as much as you need to sit up, it can be even on a chair and your shoulders back, but the head isn't tilted up, it's dropping in so that you're containing the prana within the body. So you'll breathe in through both nostrils. Pause at the height of the inhale and then exhale through both, pausing at the depth of the exhale. Even here, you can begin to regulate your breath. So I like to use a count of four for you and maybe five or three, see whichever feels natural but that it's regulated. It's called samavritti or equal breathing. And then inhale one more time through both nostrils. You're going to block off your right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through your left nostril. And then you're going to inhale all the way through your left nostril. Block off your left nostril with your ring finger but then you got to let go of your right nostril to breathe out through your right. Inhale through your right. Switch and exhale through your left. Inhale through your left. Switch. Release your thumb and exhale through the right. Inhale right. Switch. Exhale left. Inhale left. Switch. Exhale right. Inhale right. Switch. Exhale left. Inhale left. Switch. Exhale right. Release both hands down onto your knees. Take a few breaths and just feel the effects, this powerful tool you have with you all day long at every moment of the day. Your breath is your gateway towards freedom. That's always within when we turn our focus free from whatever worries and anxieties we have. You can take a step out. Just like your breath is what you focus on during your whole physical practice which spiritualizes your practice and form. As each breath is sacred, each breath is holy, as each moment and we're truly here. Just a couple more breaths. Savor each one. Each inhale is nurturing. Each exhale is cleansing, purifying as you can let go and come back to the moment. The inhale is even known as the inspiration when we take in something that inspires. The exhale is the expiration when something has completely expired. It's time to let it go. Slow down the breath. You get to slow down your life and slow down each moment as we're not guaranteed the next breath. One more deep breath in. Even exhale out through the mouth. Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you've enjoyed your breath. I've enjoyed this time and I'll see you again soon. Namaste.


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