Alternate Nostril Breathing

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Alternate Nostril Breathing (Figure 3.3) is a breathing technique that is used to balance the nervous system. It is not difficult to do, but will be very different from anything that your child has ever done before. In addition, it seems very "yoga like" because the finger position will feel foreign at first. This breathing exercise has been included because of its effectiveness. Your child should be encouraged to become familiar with this technique, in spite of its strangeness.

Visualizations go very well with this breathing technique. Guide your child through the breathing along with the visualization. To start Alternate Nostril Breathing, he should be breathing in air from the left nostril with the right nostril closed (using his own thumb). He may be helped to envision the sunlight, in the form of rainbow colors, coming from the sky and streaming into his body with his breath. You will then have him close both nostrils. Help him envision the rainbow energy swirling inside his body to give his body heat and strength and to enliven all parts of his body.

Then he may let his breath out ofthe right nostril. He may imagine that the exhalation is a pale shade of gray, and that the exhale is expelling all the old, tired energy that was in his body. What is left in his body is the fresh new rainbow energy that will give him new ideas and actions. He inhales through his right nostril. This nostril brings the calmer, serene moon energy into the body.

You then may help him imagine a rush oflight blue energy coming into his body. The pale blue represents the pale moon energy that calms and soothes. As he inhales, he should imagine this energy coming from the moon and entering his body. While he is holding his breath, he should think about the blue swirl reaching all parts ofhis body and making him calm and serene. When he exhales out ofhis left nostril, he should envision all anxiety and tension leaving his body on a blue trail of light. This breathing method can help a child anywhere, for instance at school.

1. Sit cross-legged or in any comfortable position at the front of your mat.

2. Using your right hand, fold the first two fingers under your thumb, so only your last two fingers are sticking up (Figure 3.4).

3. Place your thumb on your right nostril and close this nostril.

4. Slowly inhale for a count of three to five through your left nostril. Use the visualization of inhaling sun energy into your body.

5. Close your left nostril with the fourth finger of your right hand and hold the breath for a count ofthree to five. Imagine rainbow energy swirling around in your body.

Figure 3.4 Alternate Nostril Breathing Hand Position

6. Open your right nostril by releasing your thumb and exhale for a count of three (or up to five), releasing the energy that was swirling in your body.

7. Inhale through the right nostril for a count of three (or up to five) and imagine a blue stream of energy from the moon is entering the body.

8. Put your thumb back on your right nostril and let the energy swirl around in your body for three to five counts.

9. Release your fourth finger from your left nostril and let the air stream out of that nostril, releasing toxins.

10. This is one round of alternate nostril breathing. You may stop here or do one or two more rounds. Concentrate on how your body and mind is feeling when you are finished.

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