Pranayama for detox and stress

Pranayama is the name we use for breathing techniques in yoga and meditation. The origin of the word in sanskrit for prana (breath, vital energy of the body) and ayama (to extend) literally means to extend the breath. You can use a number of breathing techniques to clear out the sinuses, the mind and the stress from your body. I recommend doing one or all of these exercises every day. You can do them first thing when you wake up or last thing before you go to sleep right from your bed. Or you can designate a special place in your home with comfortable pillows and blankets for meditation.

Long deep breathing

Practice this technique by sitting in a comfortable seated position. Inhale and exhale any mantra that you like. My favorite are inhaling "I accept" exhaling "I let go" or inhale "love" exhale "hate". The goal is to accept good energy and let go of any fears. Practice this technique for 10 long deep breathes.

Alternate nostril breathing

This technique works well to balance either side of your brain and bring peace of mind. Begin by creating a peace sign with your right hand. Invert your middle and pointer finger. Use your ring finger to hold your left nostril. Breath in through your right nostril. Use your thumb to press on your right nostril and exhale through the left. Repeat this technique for 10 breaths. If you get dizzy, feel free to stop.

Breath of Fire

This fast paced breathing technique is meant to ignite fire in your belly and bring energy and heat to your entire body. All of you have to do is continuously exhale through your nose as quickly as possible. Don't worry about not inhaling oxygen as your body will automatically inhale it without any effort. This is a great way to relieve stress and detox your system. Continue this breathing pattern for 1 minute.

Suspended breathing

Inhale for 4 counts of breath. Hold the breath for 4 counts. Exhale for 4 counts. Continue this pattern for one minute. You can also work your way up to higher counts like 5, 6 and 7. This technique eliminates stress and is a great nightcap before bed.  

Spinal flex

Sit cross legged and grab your ankles. As you inhale, flex the spine forward (arching your back), keeping the shoulders relaxed and the head straight. Exhale and relax the spine back (rounding). Continue this movement rhythmically with your breath. You are flexing your spin the way you would in cat/cow. Continue for up to three minutes. 

Pelvis rotation

Sit cross legged and place your hands on your knees. Roll the pelvis around in a circular motion. Inhaling when the torso is tilted forward, exhaling  when it is tilted backwards. You should feel a pleasant massage and relaxation of your lower back. The benefits of this exercise include improved digestion and organ detox. Repeat for up to three minutes.