The Nine Purification Breaths (or Nine Round Breathing) is a purification practice that replaces stale prana with wisdom prana.
The prana – or lung, in Tibetan – is an essential piece of our constitution, which refers to the movement of life force in the body.
When stale prana is removed through this practice, the remaining prana is clear and pure, and wisdom prana emerges.
Thus, this exercise is a great additional benefit to any practice.
Nine Purification Breaths – Instructions
A straight back is essential for Nine Breathings of Purification. The full lotus position is ideal, though open posture is also acceptable.
The open posture is sitting cross-legged with one foot in front of the other and the knees down.
If the legs are stiff and the knees are way up, it will be difficult. Keep the chin tucked in, but not extremely tucked. The typical image is that of a shepherd’s hook.
The back of the head is like the rounded back of the shepherd’s hook; the chin is in a bit.
• Draw your attention to your body and connect with Stillness, Silence, and Spaciousness
• Visualize the three channels of light in your body: the white right channel, the blue central channel, and the left red channel.
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Clearing the White Right Channel
• Selecting: Bring to your mind and select a fresh experience of anger or aversion.
- Press your right ring finger to your right nostril and inhale slowly and deeply. Imagine the breath follows the path of the red channel all the way to the junction.
- Hold the breath slightly as you switch the finger to press the left nostril.
- Following the white right channel pathway, exhale slowly and gently at first and more forcefully at the end of the exhalation. Feel your anger release with the exhalation and instantly dissolve into space.
• Repeat the exercise three times, feeling the increasing openness in the white right channel. Maintain a connection to this openness as you focus on the red left channel for the next step of the practice.
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Clearing the Red Left Channel
• Selecting: Bring to your mind and select a fresh experience of attachment.
- Press your left ring finger to your left nostril and inhale slowly and deeply. Imagine the breath follows the path of the white channel all the way to the junction.
- Hold the breath slightly as you switch the finger to press the right nostril.
- Following the left red channel’s pathway, exhale slowly and gently at first and more forcefully at the end of the exhalation. Feel the energy of attachment release with the exhalation and instantly dissolve into space.
• Repeat the exercise three times, feeling the increasing openness in the red left channel. Maintain a connection to this openness as you bring your attention to the blue central channel.
Clearing the Blue Central Channel
• Selecting: Bring to your mind and select a fresh experience of self-doubt or lack of confidence.
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through both nostrils. Imagine the breath follows the path of both side channels.
- Bring the breath to the junction and hold the breath slightly.
- Following the pathway of the blue central channel, exhale slowly and gently at first. At the end of the exhalation, pull slightly in with your diaphragm and breathe out more forcefully. Imagine that you expel the energies of self-doubt and lack of confidence through the crown of your head, where they instantly dissolve into space.
• Repeat the exercise three times, feeling the increasing openness in the blue central channel.
• Upon completion of the nine breaths, place the hands flat, palms down, on the knees. Rest a few moments. This is called resting in the wisdom prana. This step should not be overlooked.
Do not abruptly end the nine purification breaths and then rush on to begin the meditation practice. Allow the space of a few resting breaths in the wisdom prana.
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Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nine Purification Breaths):
- While it is helpful to do the nine breaths before any meditation, they may also be used to calm the body at any time, especially before bed and upon waking.
- Works therapeutically for most circulatory and respiratory problems.
- Releases accumulated stress in the mind and body effectively and relax it.
- It helps to harmonize the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which correlates to the logical and emotional sides of our personality.
- It helps purify and balance the nadis, the subtle energy channels, thereby ensuring a smooth flow of prana (life force) through the body.
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Warnings & Precautions
Yogic breathing exercises are known to produce acute changes in cardiovascular parameters. Additionally, effects of deep breathing practice could include a sense of altered consciousness, tingling in the hands, light-headedness, and sleepiness.
Always talk to your healthcare professional before beginning any breathing practice, particularly if you have any medical conditions or concerns.
Featured image credit – dityazemli/Shutterstock
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