The foundation of yoga is the breath. It is also an important aspect as a means of support for meditation too. So throughout your time on retreat at the Watermill, you will hear me mention the breath an awful lot.
We often give it very little regard unless we have a heavy cold and therefore blocked sinuses, or we may have asthma or other respiratory conditions.
Our whole system relies on the nourishment that is provided with each breath that we take; it boosts our energy; improves our ability to focus; can reduce anxiety and bring calmness, plus many other benefits.
Alternate nostril breath helps us to align and balance the energies of the inner body. Most are unaware, until they are experiencing a heavy cold, that one nostril will be more dominant for a couple of hours and then the other. This cycle continues throughout the day, mostly unnoticed, that is until we are congested. (We all know that scenario: we can only breathe through the right side of our nose, and then suddenly we feel the left side clearing, only for the right side to then become bunged-up!)
The science of right / left side nostril breathing and how it corresponds to the hemispheres of the brain is quite a lengthy subject, and one best saved for another day.
â€œThe sun (right nostril) and the moon (left nostril) divide time into day and nightâ€
Hatha Yoga Pradipika 4.17
However, you can check right now which channel in your body is more open. Sitting upright, hold the back of your hand beneath one nostril and breathe out, then move your hand so it is beneath the other nostril and do the same. Notice which side is stronger?
When repeated a couple of hours later, you may find it has changed â€“ it normally does every 1 Â½ to 2 hours.
Practising alternate nostril breath promotes the balancing of the energies within the body, the masculine and feminine, the hemispheres of the brain and helps to prepare us for meditation.
I look forward to seeing you on the cushion in Italy soon where we can explore this and so much more.
For full details of this all-inclusive retreat, please visit our hosts at the Watermill for more information and to secure your place with a deposit.