Stop for a moment and notice your breath. Not just the rhythm, the temperature or even the pauses, but the predominant nostril and direction of exhaled air.
Did you know this forms the basis for a particular style of yogic practice known as Swara Yoga?
And regular practice and self-observation can help you discover your biorhythms and give you greater self-awareness.
Swami Muktibodhananda (Mukti) discovered Swara Yoga while studying in India in the 70s – she’s even authored a book on the practice: Swara Yoga – The Tantric Science of Brain Breathing. And now she’s about to reveal this practice at an IYTA online yoga workshop in March.
Mukti says: “Swara Yoga is the practice of recognising which nostril you are predominantly breathing through and what this indicates about your capacities in your current situation and in your current environment.”
Swara Yoga requires you to be observant of the specific nostril through which you are breathing as well as the direction of the breath while exhaling.
For example, Mukti says when you exhale and you put your fingers close to the nostrils – the breath can flow up, down, sideways and central. It’s not always flowing the same way. This indicates a specific energy flow in the body, which relates to a particular element (Tattwa)– air (vayu), water (apas), ether (akasha), fire (agni) and earth (prithvi).
Mukti adds: “For example, if the air is flowing up towards the top of the nose, the fire element is predominating.”
“This can be observed any time, but it is particularly observed at sunrise. And ideally you need to know the specific moon date and which nostril should be flowing to be in harmony with your environment.
“There is a natural biorhythm to which everyone’s swara flows and if your swara is out of sync with this rhythm then you know that there is a disturbance in the body or mind or emotions which needs to be addressed. Swara Yoga does not teach you how to breath as this is addressed in Hatha Yoga.”
Of course, a three-hour workshop will just be an introduction to these concepts, but you will still come away with tools to understand yourself, others and your relationship to your natural environment on a deeper level.
So why isn’t more known about this fascinating practice? Mukti says there are few teachers teaching Swara Yoga worldwide, because traditionally this particular Tantric practice of Swara Yoga was kept secret.
Mukti adds: “In the history of Tantra, many practices have been kept secret because people were not ready for the practices. Today we are well and truly ready to understand our biorhythms. “
Mukti discovered Swara Yoga in 1978 when she was living in a small Yogashram in the middle of India, Rajnandgaon, Madhya Pradesh. She had taught herself to read the Deva Nagari script in which Sanskrit and Hindi are written. Here in the yogashram, she read about the connection of the moon phases and which nostril should be functioning at sunrise.
She says: “I would check every morning and found it was true. It fascinates me that everyone’s breathing and brain hemisphere activities are linked to the specific moon date cycles. And to know that by discerning which nostril you are breathing through, you can understand the outcome of specific actions is invaluable in the process of being more in charge of yourself, to be ‘self-controlling, rather than ‘other’ controlling. I am always interested in yogic methods that increase my awareness of myself and others.
Mukti says that by understanding her own swara, she is able to make more informed decisions.
Mukti explains it can help you to shift out of negative emotions and behaviours such as being judgmental, blaming or being critical or feeling victimised or having a desire to “rescue”.
This is quite a complex subject but Mukti still manages to incorporate it into her general yoga classes by bringing students’ awareness to the fact that they breathe through individual nostrils, as well as through both nostrils evenly from time to time.
And that this cycle of breathing needs to change throughout 24 hours in order to maintain physical and psychological balance. She also explains about sleeping on your side in relation to having a deep sleep (all these aspects will be covered in the IYTA workshop).
To book on click HERE
Pic credit: thanks to Unsplash and Ale Romo photographer