Yoga Alloy

Nasal Breathing

Why It Is Essential for Yoga Practice

For a beginner yogin, one of the most remarkable things in a yoga class is the breath. The yoga instructor tells you when to breathe in and out almost the entire session. The whole class inhales and exhales together. This is when the magic begins to happen. This is why also one of the reasons why I love studio classes more than private or online ones. 

What I am trying to say is that nothing about breath is random in yoga. The right breath is even more important than the asanas. Indeed asanas are tools for us to access our breath and the life force energy (Prana) within.

The primary aim of a yoga practice is to attain a balanced steady flow of Prana (life force energy). Prana is not identical with the breath. Everything that gives us life, sustains our life includes Prana. Breath is the prominent source of this life force energy. Through breath, we can calm our mind and direct our life force energy. 

The asanas are tools to purify and control our Prana. We need nasal breathing to reach this goal. There are two main reasons why we won’t be able to access prana without nasal breathing.

1. Jalandhara Bandha
2. Ida and Pingala Nadis

Jalandhara Bandha

The impurities and imbalances in Prana develop through life experiences that somehow disturb our physical, emotional, or mental balance. The most determinant factor here is not the outside world though.  We are the most determinant factor. Human beings are extremely inclined to create stories or look for meaning for the things happening around them. We always have our version of things happening around us, and someone else will have a different version. Our energy body reacts to our version.  The way we reflect our experiences to our inner world is deciding if we will manage to keep our stability. 

Yoga gives us many tools to maintain our stability. One of those tools is the Jalandhara Bandha. Jalandhara Bandha is the throat lock/seal. A very easy activation of this Bandha (lock) is achieved by pulling the chin in.

Jalandhara Bandha regulates the energy flow between the lower parts of our body and our head. We create a lot of heat and a lot of energy during the asana practice. Limiting the energy flow between the mind and the body is a powerful way to keep the mind calm. 

In order to keep the Jalandhara Bandha active throughout the yoga practice, you need nasal breathing. You can activate the Jalandhara Bandha while breathing through your mouth. But the problem is your throat will dry out very quickly if you do that.

Ida and Pingala Nadis

The second big reason why we need nasal breathing in yoga is related to balancing the pranic flow. Yoga tells us about our energy body.

 In our energy body, there are paths where our Prana flows. Just like the blood flows through veins. The channels or paths that our Prana is called the Nadis. Some Nadis are minor some are major with a vast amount of energy flowing through it. 

Two of the most major Nadis are called Ida and Pingala Nadis. They both initiate at the base of the spine and spiral through 5 spinal Chakras (energy centers) then go up to the third eye and end at the nostrils. The Ida Nadi and at the left nostril and the Pingala at the right nostril. Ida Nadi is the channel of the lunar feminine energies, and Pingala is the solar channel with masculine energy. 

The balance between the feminine and masculine energies is essential for a healthy, contented life. It is also essential for transcendence (the ultimate aim of yoga). 

As you might have guessed you will not be able to access these two very crucial channels unless you do nasal breathing. Nasal breathing is such an easily accessible and powerful tool to balance these energies. And working on that balance is almost the whole point of stepping on the mat. All those sought our benefits of yoga arse from bringing the feminine and masculine energies closer to a balanced flow. 

So here are two of the main reasons why you want to do nasal breathing throughout your practice unless your instructor gives other breath cues. If you have further questions on this topic please feel free to reach out.

Embody the Sacred Within,

Yoga Alloy