Principles of Breath in Ayurveda
The Importance of Breath Techniques and Body Chemistry
The movement of energy from one hemisphere to the other occurs simultaneously with the changes of breath from one nostril to the other. When the right nostril dominates, the left hemisphere dominates. When the left nostril dominates, so does the right hemisphere. As both nostrils operate, both hemispheres operate in unison.
The simple act of changing the breath from one nostril to the other reverses brain hemisphere dominance; thus, altering chemical reactions taking place throughout the organism. Willful control of the pattern of breath enables conscious control of body chemistry.
Emotional States, Body Energy, and Breath Pattern
Human emotional states are the product of body chemistry. Changing the breath pattern changes body chemistry, and thus affects a change in the emotional state. Disease states are the product of body chemistry, and thus breath manipulation affects the prevention of disease if done at the onset of symptoms.
Knowledge and practice of the principles of breath science enable one to control his state of consciousness and prevent disease states.
Synchronizing the Nostrils (Swar Yoga):
Knowledge of the play of breath in the nostrils forms the basis of the ancient discipline of Swar Yoga (literally, “unification through breath”), heretofore virtually unknown even in its native India.
The founders and developers of this science observed the play of breath and the resulting changes in body state and consciousness. What follows are their most significant and useful findings, information with which anyone can synchronize his own inner rhythms with those of the cosmos:
Helpful Findings on Using Individual Nostrils
A) One does not breathe through both nostrils simultaneously except for very brief periods during the day.
B) When one nostril is dominant, the other is recessive.
C) The breath may be changed from one nostril to the other by lying down on the side of the operating nostril with a pillow placed under the ribcage (to stimulate nerves which play an important role in breath). Change, in healthy organisms, occurs within three to ten minutes.
D) When the right nostril operates, body chemistry is predominantly acidic (the stomach produces more gastric acid during this time), and more inner heat is produced. This nostril should never be used for meditation, urination or drinking liquids.
E) When the left nostril operates, body chemistry is predominantly alkaline. This nostril cools the system and should never be used for eating, bathing or defecating.
The Use of Different Nostrils & Their Effects
F) To whatever degree possible, the left nostril should be operated during the day and the right between sunset and sunrise – except when specific jobs requiring the other nostril are undertaken. This synchronizes the organism with the type of energy most predominant on the planet. The day is more hot and solar, so the cooler nostril is used; and the reverse for the night.
G) When both nostrils operate equally, body chemistry reaches a state of equilibrium suitable for no other jobs than meditation, chanting or yoga. This state normally occurs at the exact moments of sunrise and sunset and briefly during the transition from one nostril to the other (which occurs hourly in most individuals).
H) The cycle of the breath is directly related to the ascending and descending cycles of the Moon.
I) On the morning following the darkest night (new moon) of the lunar cycle, the left nostril begins operating at the moment of sunrise and continues for one hour. This is true also for the second and third mornings.
J) On the three consecutive mornings following the Full Moon night, the right nostril begins operating at sunrise, continuing for an hour.
Operating the Nostrils and Learning to Find Balance
K) When one nostril has operated for three successive mornings, the breath will switch to the other nostril for the next three mornings, subject to variances in the 28 1/2-day lunar cycle.
L) When there is a disturbance in the natural cycle, and the proper nostril does not open, body chemistry becomes disturbed and physiological and psychological disturbances become more likely.
M) A quick response to this imbalance can avert ill effects. Simply change the breath by the method outlined above. Resort to a cotton ball “plug” if there is no change-over. So, under no circumstances should one breathe through the mouth.
N) Changing the breath at the first sign of any physical or mental disturbance furthermore prevents worsening of symptoms and promotes rapid recovery.
Nostrils, Jobs and Healing
The left nostril is more suitable for all long-term peaceful activities not undertaken for immediate gain; as well as hard physical labor. The joint operation is appropriate only for concentration, meditation, worship, and chanting.
Activities favorable to breathing through the left nostril:
– entering a new house
– getting married
– playing music
– depositing money
– entering a holy order
– curing pain
– reading or writing poetry
– learning to read
– curing sorrow and unconsciousness
– making short journeys
– practicing yoga, and
– entering a new phase in one’s educational career
Activities favorable to breathing through the right nostril:
– boat trips
– reading or writing books
– giving inspiration to others
– hard physical labor
– removing anxiety and nervousness
– learning musical compositions
– mastering religious texts
– long journeys
– hatha-yoga exercises