by Alejandro Chaoul, Ph.D: As you will learn in my book, Tibetan Yoga for Health & Well-Being… 

Awaken

you will familiarize yourself with each kind of breath-energy in the Tibetan yoga practices.

In this way, you guide the rhythm of the inhalation and exhalation and seek greater balance in the amount and strength of the breath.

A well-known ancient Tibetan metaphor describes the mind riding on the breath-energy like a rider upon a horse, with the two traveling together through the pathways of the channels.

So, as the breath-energy circulating through the channels becomes more balanced, the channels become increasingly flexible, allowing the breath-energy to find its own comfortably smooth rhythm.

When the breath rhythm is smooth, like a wave, the mind has a smoother ride, which reduces the tendency to become agitated.

With the help of movements that guide the mind and the three kinds of breath-energies into different areas of the body and energy centers, or chakras, the practice brings the possibility of healing or harmonizing body, breath-energy, and mind—which we can call the body–breath-energy–mind system.

This is a goal of yogic practices, and also a model of good health that is in line with the concept of health or well-being in Tibetan medicine.

I will present these practices in three steps – intention, posture/breaths, and subtle body movements.

STEP 1: Stating Your Purpose or Intention

The Instructions of the A yoga text starts with a beautiful Tibetan homage that describes the intention we cultivate when we practice this yoga:

This praises being in the expanse of one’s natural state of mind, which is reached by clearing the external and internal obstacles with this Tibetan yoga practice.

The main purpose of this practice is to achieve that fully aware and focused A state of mind.

Traditionally, the practices called zhiné, or calm abiding, focus your attention on an object—external or internal—which allows your mind to relax, concentrate, and connect to yourself more deeply.

Over 40 years ago, Herbert Benson, M.D., at Harvard Medical School scientifically proved that a simple breathing meditation can elicit what he called the relaxation response.

This response is a decrease in physiological stress that helps you achieve a state of calm. Therefore, learning how to breath properly is very important for practicing this yoga, and for your everyday life.

STEP 2: Using Proper Body Posture and Breathings

Your body posture is key in sustaining your mind’s attention on your breath. As you prepare to meditate, focusing on your body posture can bring a sense of stillness that aids in attaining the stillness and focus of your mind; your breath becomes the link between your body and mind.

The preferred posture for this practice is the classic meditation posture that has five points.

The Five-Point Posture

On a cushion or mat:

  • Sit cross-legged, which helps to contain your warmth and energy within your body and helps you keep your back straight.
  • Keep your back straight, which aids the flow of energy and keeps the channels straight.
  • Make your chest open, like an eagle soaring in the sky, to give yourself a sense of openness and lightness so you are not too tense.
  • Hold your hands in the equipoise position (palms up, left palm resting on right, thumbs at the bases of the corresponding ring fingers, resting on your lap), which supports an inner sense of equanimity.
  • Tuck your jaw slightly down and in to lengthen the back of your neck and lessen the wandering of your thoughts.
  • If you are unable to sit on a cushion on the floor, you may sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your back straight and sit toward the edge of the chair. The rest of the pose is the same, as set out above.
  • Keep your eyes closed or, if you prefer to keep them open, gaze downward peacefully without looking around

STEP 3: Subtle-Body Practice: Incorporating Your Channels and Guiding Your Breath

The subtle energy body, as its name suggests, is a subtler awareness of the body achieved by using the mind’s attention to guide the breath-energy through it.

The breath-energy becomes a crucial link between your experience of your mind and body.

The first three breaths: Purifying Anger

  • Place your right thumb at the base of your right ring finger.
  • Close your right nostril with that ring finger.
  • Inhale through your left nostril, feeling the pure, nourishing air coming into your body.
  • Imagine the breath as green light following your left channel.
  • As your breath travels through your left channel, feel how your channel expands, like a balloon being inflated.
  • As your breath reaches the point of union of your channels, allow it to continue to your right side, and slowly release your right ring finger from your right nostril and close your left nostril with that same finger.
  • Guide your breath as it follows your right channel up your body and out through your right nostril, visualizing it as dark blue smoke and feeling this releasing breath carrying blocks and obstacles, especially those related to anger, from your body, energy, and mind.
  • Imagine these obstacles dissolving instantly into the vast surrounding space.
  • Repeat two more times. In the inhalation, breathe in pure air through your left nostril and left channel, visualizing it as green light, to nourish and support your concentration. Then feel that air traverse your right channel and, in the exhalation through your right nostril, visualize it as dark blue smoke, carrying out the obstacles of anger to let them out of your system.
  • Take a moment to notice how you feel on your right side and right channel—maybe a sense of being more open and possibly a little less anger or irritation.

The second three breaths: Purifying Attachment

  • Place your left thumb at the base of your left ring finger.
  • Close your left nostril with that ring finger.
  • Inhale through your right nostril, feeling the pure, nourishing air coming into your body.
  • Imagine the breath as green light following the path of your right channel.
  • As your breath travels through your right channel, feel how your channel expands, like a balloon being inflated.
  • As your breath reaches the point of union of your channels, allow it to continue to your left side, and slowly release your left ring finger from your left nostril and close your right nostril with that same finger.
  • Guide your breath as it follows your left channel up your body and out through your left nostril, visualizing it as pink smoke and feeling this releasing breath carrying blocks and obstacles, especially those related to desire and attachment, from your body, energy, and mind.
  • Imagine these obstacles dissolving instantly into the vast surrounding space.
  • Repeat two more times. In the inhalation, breathe in pure air, visualizing it as green light, through your right nostril and your right channel, to nourish and support your concentration. Then feel it traverse the left channel and, in the exhalation through your left nostril, visualizing the air as pink smoke, breathe out the obstacles of attachment to let them out of your system.
  • Take a moment to notice how you feel on your left side and left channel—maybe a sense of being more open and possibly a little less grasping, attachment or control.

The third three breaths: Purifying Confusion or Cloudy Mind

  • Place your hands on your lap in the equipoise position, left over right, with the palms up and the thumbs at the bases of the ring fingers.
  • Inhale through both nostrils, feeling the pure, nourishing air coming into your body.
  • Imagine the breath as green light following your right and left side channels.
  • As your breath travels through them, feel how the channels expand, like balloons being inflated.
  • As your breath reaches the point of union of your channels, allow it to enter and continue up your central channel as you guide it along the pathway.
  • Feel the subtle breath going up your central channel and leaving slightly upward through your crown chakra, visualizing it as dark gray smoke. Exhale your normal physical breath through your nostrils.
  • Feel this releasing breath carrying blocks and obstacles, especially those related to confusion or unawareness, from your body, energy, and mind.
  • Imagine these obstacles dissolving instantly into the vast surrounding space.
  • Repeat two more times. In the inhalation, breathe in pure air through both nostrils, visualizing it as green light, to nourish and support your concentration. In the exhalation, visualizing the air as dark smoke, breathe out the obstacles slightly upward through your crown chakra and also through both nostrils.
  • Take a moment to notice how you feel in your central channel and your whole body—maybe a sense of being more open, and a little less cloudy mind and more clarity instead.

Now, having deeply nurtured and purified yourself, rest in your inner home while you get ready to connect to your chakras and start the Tibetan yoga movements in Tibetan Yoga for Health & Well-Being.

Source: Heal Your Life