A lot of people think yoga is all about getting that perfect Instagram, in some crazy pose. Sure, with a lot of practice and strength you can twist yourself into an awesome right angle pose, but yoga is so much more than that. Yoga is not just physical, but also spiritual and mental. It combines your physical and mental states by harnessing your breath. Yoga actually means "yoking" the mind, body, and spirit together. This is specifically done by using a yoga breathing technique.

My Journey

Jordan Burns

This past semester I fell in love with yoga, by taking a weekly class. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. Even during midterms and finals, I carved time into my week to never miss it. It helped my flexibility, my strength, and my emotions. The weeks I was most busy, were the weeks I needed to go to yoga the most.

The most important thing my yoga class taught me was "pranayama," or yoga breathing control. Yoga has multiple types of breathing exercises in order to warm, cool, or calm the body. My favorite is alternate nostril breathing which calms and focuses the body and mind. The goal of yoga is to balance the body in all forms, including your nostrils. If you plug one nostril and breathe in and out of it and then switch you will find one is easier and softer than the other. Try it! See what I mean?

Follow these steps to learn how to balance your nostrils. If you practice this breathing for at least five minutes a day, you will find that your breath is more balanced, and your mind more calm. If you do this exercise before writing a paper, you will also find yourself to be more focused.

1) Adjusting Your Hand

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Take your right hand and lower your index and middle finger.

2) Breathe Out Completely

Before starting the exercise breathe out completely. You should feel your belly and chest empty.

3) Plug Your Right Nostril

Jordan Burns

Take your thumb and plug your right nostril.

4) Breathe In Through Your Left Nostril

Breathe in slowly and evenly through your left nostril. You should fill your chest and belly to the top of your breath, meaning, breathe in until you feel "full."

5) Switch Nostrils

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Jordan Burns

When you reach the top of your breath, switch your hand to where your right ring finger gently closes your left nostril. Be sure that you do not let any air out.

6) Breathe Out Through Your Right Nostril

Breathe evenly and slowly out through your right nostril. You should empty out completely.

7) Breathe In Through Your Right Nostril and Continue the Exercise

After emptying out, breathe slowly and evenly back in through your right nostril. Then continue the exercise switching between nostrils. Do this for at least five minutes.

Did you notice the imbalance in your nostrils by one of them being more difficult to breathe through than the other? This is because our body tends to favor one side, and in hand, why yoga seeks to balance the body. By doing this exercise not only are you balancing your breathing, but you are also giving your nervous system a much needed massage.

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Jordan Burns

Though it does look a bit silly, I do these yoga breathing exercises almost everyday, and I did them before every final exam. They help me breakthrough stress, as well as, feel more mindful and focused. Try these today or next time you feel stressed, and give a yoga class a try and feel the improvements it will make!