Without breath, there is no life. Pranayama breathing techniques help the practitioner and receiver of the tantra session alike to remove physical and emotional blockages or obstacles in the body so that breath and prana [life force] can flow freely² between the two during the course of the tantric therapy treatment.
Pranayama, independently translated as: Prana – meaning life force and Ayama -meaning: to restrain or draw out; together, roughly translate as: ‘breath control’. The benefits of regular Pranayama breath work can include:
1. Better management of stress.
2. Improved blood circulation.
3. Help with a number of medical ailments such as: anxiety, depression, hypertension, headaches and gastric problems.
4. Improved cardiovascular function.
5. Deep relaxation for the mind and body.
6. Increased respiratory function.
Although there are over a dozen different types of Pranayama breathing techniques our tantra practice focuses on the incorporation of 4 of these modalities during treatment. These modalities are: Ujjayi Pranayama, Nadi Sodhana, Kapalbhati Pranayama and Dirga Pranayama.
Ujjayi Pranayama – Oceans Breath
This breath is meant to resemble the sound of the ocean. To start, you want to draw breath in through an open and relaxed mouth and exhale with your mouth wide open and relaxed. After 10 – 15 breaths you will repeat the same pattern of inhalation and exhalation with the nose exclusively.
Nadi Sodhana – Alternate Nostral Breath
This breath is meant to clear pathways of energy in the body – Nadi’s – prior to engaging in your daily activities, whatever they may be.
To perform this pranayama start by placing your right thumb on your right nostril. In so doing you will only be able to inhale through your left nostril which is how this practice will start. After taking your first inhalation through your left nostril, you will hold for a beat, allowing you to switch from blocking your right nostril with your right thumb to now blocking your left nostril with your right ring finger as you exhale through your right nostril.
Keeping your right ring finger on your left your nostril you will inhale through your right nostril, hold for a beat, once again switch from blocking your left nostril with your right ring finger to blocking your right nostril with your right thumb allowing you to exhale through your left nostril and in so doing completing one full breath cycle. Repeat this process until 25 – 30 cycles have been completed.
To simplify and focus on the breathing solely:
Inhale left nostril – Exhale right nostril – Inhale right nostril – Exhale left nostril.
Kapalbhati Pranayama – Fire Breathing
This breath, done exclusively with the nose, is performed to connect you with the power of your diaphragm and encourage deeper diaphragmatic breathing. It is not uncommon for practitioners of this technique to report sensations of feeling light headed, hot or as if they were vibrating.
To perform this technique — while sitting tall with your legs comfortably crossed — take a deep breath in through your nose and, as you exhale, you will audibly pulsate your breath whilst simultaneously contracting your diaphragm thereby expelling the air completely out of your belly prior to your next deep inhalation. The key to executing this technique is to insure that you DO NOT inhale while you are expelling air out of your diaphragm.
Repeat this process for 10 – 20 cycles.
Dirga Pranayama – Complete Breath
This technique is similar to Ujjayi Pranayama except you will be lying down. To perform this technique: take a long, slow and deep breath in through your nose, draw attention to filling your belly with air. Pause for a beat. Exhale long and slow draw your attention to the fall of your belly as you do.
With your next breath in, draw your attention to filling your belly and ribcage with air. Pause for a beat. Exhale long and slow, drawing your attention to the shrinking inward of your ribcage and the eventual fall of your belly.
With your next breath in, draw your attention to filling your belly, ribcage and heart-centre — Manipura, the 3rd Chakra — with air. Pause for a beat. Exhale long and slow, drawing your attention to the the release of warm and radiant energies of abundance from your heart-centre, the shrinking inward of your ribcage and the eventual fall of your belly.
Continue on, in this pattern, up the remaining 3 chakras until you have reached Sahasrara, the 7th or Crown Chakra. Once your breath has taken you here to the ‘thousand-petalled’ lotus…
Repeat this process for 10 – 20 cycles.