It’s been over two weeks since my last teacher training weekend, and my next one is in just over two weeks. So how am I doing with the daily pranayama practice?
I think I’ve been doing okay. I have practiced my diaphragmatic breathing, three-part breathing, and alternate nostril breathing for 14 days out of the past 18 days. Sometimes I practice in the morning, sometimes in the evening, sometimes somewhere random like at my desk at work, in my parked car, or on the train (I can do regular breathing no problem in random places, it’s just the alternate nostril breathing that looks a little crazy to passersby and that I try to be careful of). I’ve been keeping my journal and tracking the time of day (or location if needed) and how many of each type of breath, plus any thoughts that come to me during the practice. Here are some reflections so far:
May 25: I’m starting to see correlations with the left and right dominant nostril that match up with what I’ve been taught (that when the left nostril is dominant, the body’s energy is calming, soothing, lethargic; when right nostril is dominant, body’s energy is vigorous, energetic, warmed up). I got to work yesterday and was tired – left nostril was dominant. Busy all evening, energy high, and it’s time for bed – right nostril was dominant. Woke up at 3:30 in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep – right dominant. Woke up with the alarm and didn’t want to get out of bed – left dominant. Just observing the patterns for now and trying a little to influence them with alternate nostril breathing.
May 26: The distinct movements of the three-part breath are becoming easier, more automatic (after three days of practice).
May 27: I’ve been doing three-part breathing at odd times, like on the train or in the car, not just when I’m sitting quietly at home.
May 31: I’ve noticed that diaphragmatic breathing makes me yawn – the breath just doesn’t feel deep enough to fill up my lungs completely. This is in contrast to what my teachers and the book say, that diaphragmatic breathing is best. In my experience, three-part breathing is a better, deeper, more filling breath. Am I missing something?
June 1: I noticed that diaphragmatic breathing is more comfortable and feels deeper when I’m lying on my back (practicing at bedtime). Three-part breath is more uncomfortable to practice while lying down.
June 5: Almost halfway through my month of breathing. Starting to feel some calmness during three-part breath, but diaphragmatic breath is still uncomfortable and alternate nostril breathing is unpleasant because one nostril is always too clogged. The alternate-nostril technique doesn’t seem to improve the clogged-up nostril but rather seems to make it worse (this has been an issue for the past few days, maybe allergies? I’m breathing fine and clearly when I can use both nostrils). Also, note that it’s hard to practice pranayama while wearing jeans.
Overall, though, much like with my posture write-ups, I find it difficult to write about what I’m feeling during a practice. With the pranayama, I’m often thinking about how clogged my nose is, or I’m thinking about how many more breaths I need to do, and that just makes me feel agitated. Or I’m thinking about something else entirely (which happens during my yoga practice too), and then I realize I’m doing it and then I feel bad. But what’s the root, baseline feeling? Is this one of those things where, just by observing a situation, you change what’s happening and make it different? Particles are like that in physics. Maybe brains behave the same way.