Nadi Shodhana: The Breath That Balances

Vayu-Devata-The-Hindu-Wind-God
Vayu Devanta, the god of Wind. The breath is the wind of the body.

 

Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is a powerful technique we can use to enhance our well-being. *Please consult with your healthcare practitioner to make sure breathing exercises are appropriate for you at this time.

Click this link to watch a video for basic instruction

Below is a thought-provoking article on the potential benefits of Nadi Shodhana. [from Holistic Online]

“If you don’t do anything else, this is a simple yoga breathing exercise that can be done virtually anywhere, anyplace. You will be glad you did. It is simply dynamic!

The name alternate nostril breathing is due to the fact that we alternate between the two nostrils when we do the breathing. Yogis believe that this exercise will clean and rejuvenate your vital channels of energy, thus the name nadi sodhana (purification of nadis or channels).

With this exercise, we breathe through only one nostril at a time. The logic behind this exercise is that normal breathing does alternate from one nostril to the other at various times during the day. In a healthy person the breath will alternate between nostrils about every two hours. Because most of us are not in optimum health, this time period varies considerably between people and further reduces our vitality. According to the yogis, when the breath continues to flow in one nostril for more than two hours, as it does with most of us, it will have an adverse effect on our health. If the right nostril is involved, the result is mental and nervous disturbance. If the left nostril is involved, the result is chronic fatigue and reduced brain function. The longer the flow of breath in one nostril, the more serious the illness will be.

Benefits

1. The exercise produces optimum function to both sides of the brain: that is optimum creativity and optimum logical verbal activity. This also creates a more balanced person, since both halves of the brain are functioning properly.

2. The yogis consider this to be the best technique to calm the mind and the nervous system.

The Scientific Confirmation of Alternate Nostril Breathing

Medical science has recently discovered the nasal cycle, something that was known by the yogis thousands of years ago. Scientists have recently found that we don’t breathe equally with both nostrils, that one nostril is much easier to breathe through than the other at any particular time and that this alternates about every three hours. The yogis claim that the natural period is every two hours, but we must remember these studies were done on people who do not have an optimum health level.

Scientists also discovered that the nasal cycle corresponds with brain function. The electrical activity of the brain was found to be greater on the side opposite the less congested nostril. The right side of the brain controls creative activity, while the left side controls logical verbal activity. The research showed that when the left nostril was less obstructed, the right side of the brain was predominant. Test subjects were indeed found to do better on creative tests. Similarly when the right nostril was less obstructed the left side of the brain was predominant. Test subjects did better on verbal skills.

Medical science has not quite caught up with the ancient yogis yet. The yogis went one step further. They observed that a lot of disease was due to the nasal cycle being disturbed; that is, if a person breathed for too long through one nostril. To prevent and correct this condition, they developed the alternate nostril breathing technique. This clears any blockage to air flow in the nostrils and reestablishes the natural nasal cycle. For example, the yogis have known for a long time that prolonged breathing through the left nostril only (over a period of years) will produce asthma. They also know that this so-called incurable disease can be easily eliminated by teaching the patient to breathe through the right nostril until the asthma is cured, and then to prevent it recurring by doing the alternate nostril breathing technique. The yogis also believe that diabetes is caused to a large extent by breathing mainly through the right nostril.” (Excerpted from Holistic Online website)

Disclaimer: the information contained in this blog article is not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. It is intended for use by Vivian Linden’s clients who have been assessed in her practice. Consult your healthcare practitioner and use at your own risk. 

Beauty from the Inside Out

Outer Beauty is an Inside Job!

~Follow the guidelines for balancing your specific constitutional type (make a consultation appointment to find out your unique constitution).

glass-of-water-w-lemon~Upon waking, drink a large glass of warm water. You can add a squeeze of fresh lemon.

~Dry brush skin (towards the heart) to activate lymph flow (to de-stagnate from inactivity during the night)

~Mini-self oil massage (also called abhyanga) with plain sesame oil or an oil that is specifically for balancing your constitution or imbalance.

~Shower (add in 30 seconds of cold water rinse if your constitution is strong. Especially get cold water on the upper chest and throat areas to stimulate the thyroid. This stimulating “hydrotherapy” helps to activate the metabolism and also moves lymphatic fluid).

~Pranayama: Nadi shodhana (see the Nadi Shodhana page for instructions) and Brahmari pranayama support relaxation and the endocrine system.

~Cat/Cow: Helps to lubricate the spine and move cerebral spinal fluid.

~Meditate or do any other relaxation practices that you enjoy.

~Walk or do other enjoyable, stress-reducing forms of exercise.

~Drink plenty of non-caffeinated, non-sugary beverages. Try to sip warm water throughout the day (it helps hydrate cells and move lymphatic fluid)

~Eat high quality organic fats, especially ghee and coconut oil, especially if you have a high Vata constitution.

~Cultivate appreciation for beauty of all kinds! One of my favorite “beauty icons” is elder Georgia O’keefe -no Botox for for this beauty!

Disclaimer: the information contained in this blog article is not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. It is intended for use by Vivian Linden’s clients who have been assessed in her practice. Consult your healthcare practitioner and use at your own risk.

Nourishing the Spirit

chakras“The complete solution is to go back to who you are!”
-Dr. Sunil Joshi, Ayurvedic Physician & Panchakarma specialist

Dr. Joshi is a profound teacher! His five-day teaching at Kripalu was one of the most inspired educational experiences of my life, filled with wisdom, passion and a LOT of humor! You can read an interview with him here.

Alakananda Ma:

I’ve felt very blessed to discover the wise teachings of Alakananda Ma, an Ayurvedic doctor, English-trained medical doctor, poet, ex-Catholic nun, multi-faith pilgrim, Goddess devotee and founder of the Alandi Ashram and Ayurveda School in Boulder, Colorado. Her recorded talks have greatly informed and inspired me this year. She has a brilliant mind and, like any good teacher/guru, makes the Universe a more expansive space with her wisdom! I believe she is a teacher for the New Age!

You can access her audio teachings here:

Peace Pilgrim:

My mom had a copy of Peace Pilgrim’s book way back in the late ’80’s. I remember thinking it was just about walking for peace and nuclear disarmament. What I didn’t understand at the time was that Peace Pilgrim was a very profound, fully realized and enlightened Spiritual Teacher. I recently re-connected with her work -and the amazing video interviews with her on Youtube! In this time of deepening violence and aggression, she teaches that Peace must begin within each of us and that the outer World is a reflection of our inner landscape. Peace Pilgrim’s simple teachings are ripe for our Times.

Buddhism:
Tara Brach is a wonderful Buddhist teacher in the Insight Meditation tradition. She is best-known for her “Radical Acceptance” teachings. Her Buddhist practice takes into full account the intricacies of the Western experience and the challenges that arise when Westerners explore the Buddhist practice. She is also an accomplished psychotherapist and counselor and brings years of clinical practice into her worldview. I find her Dharma talks to be inspiring and particularly helpful, especially when I am facing challenging times. You can access her weekly talks (and 25 minute guided meditations) through the Dharma Seed website.

I’m also a fan of Stephen and Ondrea Levines‘ teaching and work. They have made their lives an open laboratory for the Dharma in so many ways and their compassion towards themselves and others is an inspiring work-in-progress. Stephen’s “Soft Belly” practice was a profound teaching for me and I highly recommend checking it out! You can access a really great interview with Stephen via this link to hear him talk about Soft Belly.

Speaking of interviews! Tami Simon (the owner/founder of Sounds True) conducts very profound discussions with many of the leading spiritual teachers of our time. I have learned so much from these free hour-long conversations. Check them out at the Sounds True Insights at the Edge page.

Why Wake Up Early?
Waking Up Early: Experiencing the Ambrosial Hours of Brahmamuhurta
As Homo Sapiens, we are diurnal creatures. We sleep at night and are active during the day. Getting up early, around sunrise, serves two purposes: It gets us into rhythm with the natural daily cycles of sleeping at night and being active during daylight, which supports (and is supported by) the natural cortisol/meletonin production. The time before sunrise is also considered to be the optimal period to do spiritual practices such as yoga, mediation and pranayama.

Comedy as Spiritual Teaching:
I love this Louis CK bit about cells phones so much, I had to share it. Here is a wonderful, funny and totally profound teaching on the Human Experience…

Surviving the Holidays

caramel-cream-cake-lThis blog (below) by Dr. Aviva Romm has some great suggestions for what to do if you accidentally (or accidentally-on-purpose, like during holiday festivities) get exposed to dietary allergens or simply over-indulge. I’ve had a few clients suffering from and worrying about this issue recently, so I thought I’d share.

Aviva Romm: What to do if you get “gluten-ed” article

I especially love and agree with the idea of carrying digestive bitters and digestive enzymes/HCl for emergencies (that can happen anytime). It’s also great to keep ginger or CCF tea on-hand as well -drink them before a meal to enhance your natural capacity for good digestion.

Most importantly, enjoy the festivities, don’t be hard on yourself, then get back on the wagon as soon as possible!

The Importance of Daily Routine

b8e0c99a2a1982b80643874beaa44ebfI’ve recently had a number of clients who have illustrated for me the importance of having a good daily routine. In one case, a client found that an endocrine issue for which they had been receiving acupuncture and herbal care got even better results when a good sleep routine was added in to their treatment protocol. In another case, it was clear to me that a client’s persistent insomnia troubles were likely related to the time at which they were trying to go to sleep. In other clients, I’ve seen problems that were likely being caused and/or made worse by eating at the wrong times (which were then cascading into all sorts of other chronic health problems). While it may be impossible for us to have a “perfect” daily routine all the time, it can be enormously helpful to understand the importance of a basic daily routine, what that looks like and why.

Why is a daily routine so important? The main thing to understand about having a somewhat stable daily routine is that it follows and supports the natural cycling of our endocrine and nervous systems. Sleep is one place we can see this play out so clearly: In the evening (around 7-9pm and onward) our melatonin levels begin to rise, which help us feel sleepy and help us wind down for the evening and (hopefully) get us headed to bed for a good night’s sleep. Conversely, in the morning (a little before sunrise) our cortisol levels (and blood pressure) begin to rise naturally to motivate us to get up and greet the day. When we miss the chance to “ride the waves” these hormones provide us, we will often find we are struggling to either fall asleep, get a restful sleep or have an energetic morning. We are going “against the flow” as it were.

In a similar vein, our digestive system is also running on daily rhythmic cycles. A healthy person usually gets hungry about three times a day -which, in a healthy person, should occur in the morning, midday and early evening. A healthy hunger is generated by a cascade of hormones and physiological processes that we do well to honor. The biggest benefit of eating when we are naturally hungry (at the proper times of day) is that our digestive capacity is enhanced -as our natural hunger signals that all the biological chemical cascades are in place to receive and process food. No matter what/how one eats (Weston Price, Paleo, vegan, GAPS, Macrobiotic, etc), good digestion is a MUST in order for our bodies to even make use of our food. Eating regularly also helps us Pitta types avoid the dangers of being “Hangry”, which results from low blood sugar and can cause all sorts of things like Road Rage and general crankiness!

Pooping, which is the MOST IMPORTANT detox function of the body (aside from peeing), also generally happens early in the morning. It is also controlled by the hormones and nervous system and should be encouraged. It is generally a good practice to not eat the new day’s meal until one had had a bowel movement. This is greatly aided by drinking a large glass of warm water first thing in the morning. (Generally, it is only necessary to have one complete bowel movement per day. Pooping after every meal is possibly the sign of an overly active digestive system that is not “holding” food long enough to fully process it).

What is a good daily routine?

Sleep: Try to get to bed/sleep between 9:00-10:00pm. Do not burn the midnight oil!

Wake: Wake 30-60 minutes before sunrise (the time will shift throughout the year). Earlier is better for most people.

Poop: shortly after waking (preferably sometime between 6:00 and 8:00am)

Eat: Breakfast: 7:30-9:30  Lunch: 11:30am-1:30pm  Dinner: before 7:30pm

If we can try to stick to these general guidelines (for which our bodies are naturally programmed!) we will find ourselves feeling more energetic and healthy.

Below is a great video from one of my teachers, Dr. Scott Blossom, that discusses this topic with some additional info that I didn’t include above:

Disclaimer: the information contained in this blog article is not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. It is intended for use by Vivian Linden’s clients who have been assessed in her practice. Consult your healthcare practitioner and use at your own risk.

Drops of Nectar

a22e2036b3ff11e28b6522000a1f97ac_7Thank you so much for visiting the Blog page of Rosewood Ayurveda! This page will feature news, views and treasures I would like to share with you all. Please check back soon for updates and information you will love! -Vivian