The Way of Meditation Blog
Bringing Ancient Wisdom Into The Modern World
Chad Foreman • Nov 13, 2015
I’ve been wanting to share this technique for a while now, it’s something I have once again incorporated into my own daily meditation practice and the results are awesome. This technique is called 9 round breathing it is great to do before you practise any other meditation technique, it really does calm the nerves, helps with mindfulness , clears the mind and awakens a vibrant awareness.
Benefits of Tibetan Pranayama
Tibetan Pranayama is a powerful technique to help calm the mind because it controls the breath. The ancient meditation traditions knew that the breath and the mind are very closely linked. You can help self moderate your moods and mental states by controlling your breath, improve your concentration and overcome mental illness; as Tibetan Meditation Master Lama Yeshe says:
“If you are aware, you will notice that people who are emotionally or mentally disturbed—for example, those who are depressed—breathe differently from normal people. This shows that the way the breath energy moves through the nervous system is very closely connected with the mind. You know from your own experience that when you are angry you don’t breathe normally. Sometimes anger can even make you physically sick. ”
The Tibetan Yogis say that when one nostril is blocked it relates to the impaired functioning of that side of the brain, after doing 9 round of Tibetan Pranayama you can unblock the nostrils and re-balance the two hemispheres of the brain restoring full functioning. It also can improve your over-all physical health, help recover from nervous disorders and prolong your life; Lama Yeshe goes on to say:
“You can measure scientifically how many times a day you breathe in and out. Buddhism has also calculated this. If you train yourself in the breathing meditation and practice breathing in and out slowly every day, you can prolong your life. If air enters your nervous system in a disturbed way it can disturb your mind. You should breathe slowly, steadily, naturally and completely, like a reliable old clock ticking away.”
While physical and mental health are important effects from this training they are not the main focus of Buddhist Yogis. In the context of Mahayana Buddhism once your mind is calm and focussed you can penetrate deeply into the nature of yourself and uncover and fully connect with your enlightened nature to free yourself from all mental and emotional dysfunction and fully realise great love and intuitive wisdom to be of supreme benefit to yourself and all other beings.
Pranayama is more commonly associated with the Hindu Yogic traditions and because of its remarkable ability to heal and focus the mind it is widely used by Yoga teachers around the world. I can testify that this little known Tibetan technique has worked for me. I first learned it about ten years ago while studying full time the Tibetan Buddhist system and I have usually only used it when my mind was heavily disturbed as a forceful way to relax and focus, but because of its health benefits and ability to focus the mind I am now using it regularly before ever session which I have noticed has improved my calm mind and sense of well being. I also noticed that when I introduced it to my meditation group, everyone had great experiences and could follow and go deeply into what meditation techniques I lead them into next.
Another reason for the incredible benefits of this practice is it draws in prana or chi or life force energy. This is a universal energy that is available to all of us and it has healing qualities and also brings vitality and strength literally the force that animates all things. This energy is a subtle energy that flows through all things and is or very life force that can become depleted when we are sick or suffering mentally or emotionally. Many times you can feel drained of this energy or low in vitality, this is a perfect time to practise 9 round breathing to re-invigorate yourself.
I have not written about Tibetan Pranayama yet because I was not sure how easy it would be to describe and teach in writing but I assure you it is an easy technique once you remember it so please be patient, read below carefully several times and above all put it into practise, attempting it as you read it. This practice uses similar visualisations of the subtle energy channels and very nicely leads into another breathing exercise called Tummo or Inner Fire meditation which if you enjoy this exercise I would highly recommend Tummo. As my Tibetan Buddhist teacher Geshe Tashi Tsering would always say, Buddhist teachings are like medicine and just like medicine they don’t do you any good if they are just left on the shelf and not used, you must give them a go.
How to Practice Tibetan Pranayama (9 Round Breathing)
1) Firstly adopt a good meditation posture its important to sit up very straight with this meditation as the subtle energy channels running either side of the spine are an essential feature of this practice. Briefly a good posture is aligned and straight but also comfortable and relaxed, which actually reflects the state of mind you are trying to achieve: relaxed and focussed.
2) Take a few long slow breaths: when you breath in straighten up, like you were being pulled up by the crown and on the out breath subtly relax the shoulders, face and hands but keeping good alignment.
3) Visualise yourself as hollow, like a balloon. Your skin is glowing and brilliant and on the inside there is only empty space. Take a few moments to strongly establish this visualisation.
4) Visualise a ‘central channel’ about a 1cm thick from your perineum at the base to the crown of your head and two ‘side channels’ going in through the nostrils up to the third eye or eyebrow level and then going down either side of the central channel merging at just below the navel. All the ‘channels’ are hollow like plumbing pipes. Take a moment to establish this visualisation, it does get easier and even instantaneous with practice. See image.
5) Now gently raise your hand to your face and press on the outside of your LEFT NOSTRIL blocking it. Breathe in a long deep, smooth breath IN through the RIGHT NOSTRIL imagining drawing in universal white healing light down the RIGHT channel right down to the belly. See image
6) Hold the breath momentarily in the central channel just below the navel (see image) and then BLOCK THE RIGHT NOSTRIL and release the air up through the left channel and OUT the LEFT NOSTRIL. Imagine black smoke representing all negativity, illness and blockages releasing out through the left nostril.
7) Repeat this 2 more times
8) Now do the opposite by breathing IN THROUGH THE LEFT and OUT THROUGH THE RIGHT nostril with the same visualisations. Do this 3 times.
9) For the last round of breathing you do not block any nostrils instead just take a a long slow breath through both the nostrils imagining white light filling the channels right down to the navel and then release the breath through both nostrils expelling dark smoke representing negativity.
PLEASE NOTE: That’s a complete 9 round cycle and is actually an advanced version very rarely taught to beginners. I wanted to include it here to give everyone the chance to experiment with it.
An easier beginners practice is to simply do the breathing without the visualisation.
*In brief the beginners practice is: Breathing IN through the RIGHT NOSTRIL and OUT through the LEFT NOSTRIL – doing that 3 times. And then IN through the LEFT NOSTRIL and out through the RIGHT NOSTRIL – doing that 3 times. And then in through BOTH NOSTRILS and out through BOTH NOSTRILS – doing that 3 times. In total that is 9 rounds of breathing and that is the practice of Tibetan Pranayama 9 round breathing.
Tip1: When you focus all your concentration on the breath try and get the sense your attention or mind is literally riding on top of the breath. Like you are floating on the breath staying with it the entire way, so your breath and your attention become one.
Tip2: Your breath should be visualised as white light, this is to realise the prana aspect of the practice, your breath is not just air or oxygen it is the vital life force of yourself and of all things.
As always please experiment, modify it and follow your own intuitive wisdom. After doing this meditation I recommend to sit quietly and to feel and sense your body completely for at least a few minutes and try and feel the difference and vitality in your body. I usually do two full rounds of this before I meditate with my usual daily routine of watching my breath and just being , see here for full instructions on how I meditate.
Best of Luck, please feel free to ask questions, share experiences or comment below.
Written by Chad Foreman
Chad is the founder of The Way of Meditation and has been teaching meditation since 2003 and is determined to bring authentic meditation practices into the lives of millions of people in the modern world. Chad is a former Buddhist monk who spent 6 years living in a retreat hut studying and practicing meditation full time. Chad now offers Private Online Meditation Coaching and has also developed an incredible course called The 21 Day Meditation Challenge to help guide people gradually from the basics of mindfulness and relaxation to profound states of awareness.
Try This Alternate Nostril Breathing Guided Meditation
From Day 7 of The 21 Day Meditation Challenge
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Which pranayama is most powerful? ›
Bhastrika translates as Bellows. Bellows are an instrument used to produce a strong gust of air with the aim of fanning the fire. When practicing this yoga technique, you produce similar movements that could be said to be like the bellows.What happens when you do pranayama everyday? ›
Daily pranayama trains the lungs and improves the capacity of respiratory system immensely. Pranayama directly works on the nervous system. Daily Pranayama positively affects autonomic nervous system which controls and governs essential functions of the body like the heart rate, respiration and blood pressure etc.How long does it take for pranayama to work? ›
A 2013 study found that 12 weeks of slow or fast pranayama improved executive function — which includes your working memory, cognitive flexibility, and reasoning skills. The study also found that pranayama has the ability to improve your perceived level of stress and your reaction time.How do you meditate Tibetan? ›
Engage in circular breathing throughout this meditation: Breathe slowly and deeply through your nostrils, from your abdomen, with the in-breath the same length as the out-breath, and without a pause in between the in-breath and out-breath.Can I drink water after pranayama? ›
How long should you wait to do pranayama after drinking water? Ideally, pranayama should be practised on an empty stomach. You should do pranayama at least 30 minutes after consuming water. I recommend drinking your water as soon as you get up, followed by a bowel movement and a shower to prepare for yoga.What is the most calming pranayama? ›
Also known as the “ocean breath,” this intense pranayama practice is great for cooling down the body and calming the nervous system.
The given Pranayama Sequence is done at the end of the yoga practice, first setting an intention, and then focusing on warming, connecting, deeper breathing, calming, relaxing and surrendering, and chanting with deep inner silence.How many minutes should we do pranayama? ›
You should feel the air on the roof of your mouth as you exhale. Repeat up to 20 times. When to do it: This breath can be practiced for up to 10 minutes at any time of day. Try it with an asana practice as well.How does pranayama affect the brain? ›
pranayama significantly reduce the levels of anxiety and negative affect, and that these changes are associated with the modulation of activity and connectivity in brain areas involved in emotion processing, attention, and awareness.Which pranayama is known as breath of victory explain its procedure? ›
It's the most common form of pranayama (breath control) used during asana (body posture/pose) practices. In yoga, breath is equally important — sometimes even more important — as the physical pose. Ujjayi breathing is also referred to as: victorious breath.
How many times pranayama can be done in a day? ›
You must do it at least 60 times, divided throughout the day. The technique is excellent for healing, chakra balancing and getting rid of breathing or respiratory problems. This can be done even after meals. Practicing yoga pose may help speed up the recovery process for those who have recently undergone a surgery.Can pranayam cure heart blockage? ›
Pranayam, like 'Anulom Vilom' for 30 minutes daily, helped clear the heart blockages and if done for 90 days, 90% of the heart blockages could be removed. Patients had to do this under the guidance of the yoga instructor and teacher.What is the most effective meditation technique? ›
1. Mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation originates from Buddhist teachings and is the most popular and researched form of meditation in the West. In mindfulness meditation, you pay attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind.How many hours do monks meditate? ›
As a rough guide, the general routine usually consists of the following: 4.00 am – The monks wake up and meditate for one hour, followed by one hour of chanting.How do monks train their minds? ›
Meditation can focus the mind in a measurable way, according to a study of Buddhist monks. In a visual test designed to confuse the brain, the monks were able to stave off confusion more easily than those not trained in the contemplative arts.What should I eat before pranayama? ›
Though heavy meals should be avoided, in case it happens, allow 3 – 4 hours to pass before starting your yoga practice; 1 to 2 hours after a light meal and 30 – 45 minutes after having juice, fresh fruits, etc. and 15 minutes after drinking water.Can I do pranayam at night? ›
Pranayama is an effective way to take care of yourself and sleep better. Practice these pranayama's each night. Next time you feel too distracted, very busy or just way too much stress. Breath better, live better, feel better and think better.Should we meditate empty stomach? ›
Empty stomach: It is advisable to practice meditation before having a meal. Chances are that you may doze off if you meditate after having a meal. Also, if you are too hungry, avoid staying hungry and practice meditation two hours after your meal. Warm-ups: Warm-up is necessary before meditation.Which pranayama has the deepest relaxing and therapeutic effects on our body and mind? ›
Kapalabhati Pranayam (Skull shining)Can I do pranayama lying down? ›
When lying down for pranayama, use blankets to support the spine and head. When the props are positioned correctly, the chest opens and relaxation results. When positioned incorrectly, the lower back and neck harden.
Is Deep breathing same as pranayama? ›
Pranayama purifies the psychic channels (nadis) and enables physical and mental stability. Pranayama is known to purify about 72,000 nadis or channels in the body. It helps to purify the blood and respiratory system. Deep breathing enriches the blood with oxygen.What should I do first Kapalbhati or anulom vilom? ›
Kapalbhati kriya should always be followed by subtler breathing practices such as anulom vilom, also known as alternate nostril breathing.How do I increase my prana art of living? ›
A few minutes of chanting, pranayama, and especially the Sudarshan Kriya can help you get it out. Sudarshan Kriya can quickly put you back on track. Ujjayi breathing, meditation, and chanting also helps. And your connection to the Master helps; whomsoever you think of, that's what your brain immediately catches on.What are the three conditions of pranayama? ›
There are three stages to Pranayama, the first being inhalation through the nostrils which is known as Puraka. The second is exhalation, known as Rechaka and the third is holding the breath in or holding outside the body which is known as Kumbhaka.What should we do first pranayam or exercise? ›
Ancient traditions place pranayama after asana
This does not mean that you have to perfect physical yoga exercises before beginning with pranayama. It signifies that when you combine these methods, asanas should come first.
- Notice your current breathing patterns. A great way to begin a pranayama practice is to examine your current breathing habits: ...
- Breathe through the stress. ...
- Positive breathing. ...
- Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Sodhana) ...
- Humming Bee Breath (Bhramari Pranayama)
Introduction: The millenarian breathing exercises from Yoga, commonly called Pranayamas, are known to induce meditative states, reduce stress, and increase lung capacity. However, the physiological mechanisms by which these practices modulate the human nervous system still need to be unveiled.Which Pranayam is good for skin? ›
Bhastrika Pranayama increases oxygen supply to the skin & also clears out toxins accumulated in blood through forceful expiration resulting in the healthy glowing skin. That is why Bhastrika is called as best pranayama for the healthy & glowing skin.Is pranayama scientifically proven? ›
Yes it scientifically proven, alternate nostril breathing balances functioning of both the hemispheres of brain and it helps to activate alpha waves of brain which will calm it down. And thus heart functions are regulated effectively.What does ujjayi breath do to your body? ›
The benefits of Ujjayi are numerous: it soothes the nervous system, calms the mind and increases psychic sensitivity. It relieves insomnia, slows down the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. It is a tranquilizing pranayama, but it also has a heating effect, stimulating the process of oxidation.
How do you exhale in Ujjayi Pranayama? ›
Ujjayi Pranayama | Breathing Basics | Yoga With AJ | Calm Mind & BodyHow do you perform ujjayi breathing? ›
Ujjayi Breathing | Yoga with Adriene - YouTubeHow much pranayama is too much? ›
From health and Ayurvedic perspective, I would not recommend a pranayam schedule for more than 10 minutes per day. The purpose of Pranayam is to get the mind concentrated and to get the body still and ready for meditation.Who should not do anulom vilom? ›
2) Who Should Not Do Anulom Vilom? Ideally, anyone can do anulom vilom, but cardiac, blood pressure patients and pregnant women should not hold their breath while doing this pranayama; just keep inhaling and exhaling.How do you activate your right nostril? ›
Lift right hand up toward nose. Exhale completely and then use right thumb to close right nostril. Inhale through left nostril and then close left nostril with your fingers. Open right nostril and exhale through this side.Does deep breathing unclog arteries? ›
Stress-reducing activities are also helpful in lowering your risk for developing clogged arteries. Practicing yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises can help you relax and lower your stress levels.How do you clear a heart blockage naturally? ›
- Add more good fats to your diet. Good fats are also called unsaturated fats. ...
- Cut sources of saturated fat, such as fatty meat and dairy. Choose lean cuts of meat, and try eating more plant-based meals.
- Eliminate artificial sources of trans fats. ...
- Increase your fiber intake. ...
- Cut back on sugar.
Yes, you can prevent, slow, stop and even reverse heart diseases with Cardiac Yoga. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries.What happens when you meditate everyday? ›
Daily meditation can help you perform better at work! Research found that meditation helps increase your focus and attention and improves your ability to multitask. Meditation helps clear our minds and focus on the present moment – which gives you a huge productivity boost. Lowers risk of depression.What happens to your brain when you meditate? ›
It can strengthen areas of your brain responsible for memory, learning, attention and self-awareness. The practice can also help calm down your sympathetic nervous system. Over time, mindfulness meditation can increase cognition, memory and attention.
What is the most powerful yoga? ›
The Path: The most dynamic and vigorous form of yoga, Ashtanga approaches yoga with a continuous flow of movement. Top athletes who seek a more intense workout enjoy this form of yoga, sometimes called vinyasa or power yoga. Ashtanga creates heat in the body to purge it of toxins.Which yoga is best for breathing? ›
- Dhanurasana or bow pose: ...
- Hasta Uttanasana or raised arm yoga pose. ...
- Ustrasana aka camel pose. ...
- Ardha chandrasana or half moon pose. ...
- Chakrasana aka wheel pose.
Pranayam, like 'Anulom Vilom' for 30 minutes daily, helped clear the heart blockages and if done for 90 days, 90% of the heart blockages could be removed. Patients had to do this under the guidance of the yoga instructor and teacher.Which pranayama is best for asthma? ›
Bhastrika pranayama is done along with Kapal Bhati to cleanse the airways of the body. It involves deep breathing with forceful exhaling that builds strength in your lungs and increases your stamina.