This practice is also called a kriya or purifying practice. It’s been known to clear out the respiratory system, sinuses, lungs, and mind, and to strengthen the abdominal muscles and diaphragm. The Sanskrit translates to “skull shining breath, ” referring to its ability to clear out darkness and stagnant energy from the mind and blockages from the body. This practice is great to do before your asana practice to wake you up and get you moving, before you start your day, or anytime you ’re feeling sluggish.
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Have some tissues nearby, as you may need to blow your nose!
1 Begin in Easy Pose Pose or Hero’s Pose Pose with padding under your hips, and root down an lengthen your spine. Draw your shoulders back to lift and open your chest, and place your hands on your thighs or your belly. Close your eyes and tune in to the natural rhythm of your breath with your mouth closed, breathing in and out though your nose.
2 Feel free to practice a few rounds of Warrior’s Breath Pose to get started.
3 When you’re ready, take a big breath into your belly and exhale strongly out through your nose for count, drawing your navel back toward the spine, and pumping the breath out. Inhale passively and then exhale, pumping the breath out powerfully. Your focus should be on the exhale to purify the body and mind.
4 Start with 25 pumps with your hands on your lower belly to bring your awareness and breath into your navel. Slow down the breath when you near the end of your first round. Hold the last breath out with your chin toward your chest, retaining the exhale for as long as you can before returning to your natural breathing. Repeat once or twice and work up to 50 pumps per round.