Siva Pranayama

by Tracey Rich 

One of the beautiful things about this very simple but powerful pranayama is the ease at which it is intended to be practiced.  The format, unlike many other breath practices, is not structured with ratios or a particular count.  The general instruction is to inhale slowly for as long as is comfortable, hold as long as comfortable, and then exhale slowly and comfortably.  

Sitting in a supported position, take an even-paced inhalation using ujjayi pranayama, and fill your lungs.  Hold your breath with ease (with or without bandhas--locks) only as long as you can stay relaxed, yet energized.  Exhale slowly and consistently until your lungs are empty.  Continue in this way with any number of repetitions, feeling the rhythm, and never holding your breath any longer than you can take the next breath with ease.  

Keep your seated posture engaged and dynamic without being rigid.  Using a blanket or cushion to elevate the base of your body will allow you to sit longer and give you the freedom to focus on your breath.  Your sitting should support your breath work and your breath work will enliven your sitting.

Siva pranayama can be practiced anytime.  It is a simple yet potent pranayama that can bring balance, simultaneously calming and energizing.  The practice strengthens your lungs and builds your lung capacity.  In addition, deep breathing, which engages the diaphragm, is one of the great facilitators of moving lymph in the body thereby supporting the immune system.