Directing and Allowing: How to do Alternate Nostril Breathing

By Silvia Mordini

“The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mood of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change, for happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up” – Unknown author

Today my meditation focused on what combination it takes of Directing and Allowing in your life to achieve ordinary happiness. To me it is like the Alchemy of Alternate Nostril breathing. The inhale is a directed effort, but then we allow the exhale to empty, and there is that pause at the end of the out breath that purifies that allowing. You must wait for it to occur for extraordinary change is within that pause. The yogic paradox is that at the same time we learn how to surrender to changes outside our control, we simultaneously exert effort in directing our lives. This is a non-dualistic happening: one not more important than the other. Directing and allowing, allowing and directing. Inhale, exhale.

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” -Tony Robbins

The challenge is the constant sensitive adjustment necessary to maintain balance in the directing side of life. It is too easy to let life be done to us and give up all control of plans for the best life ever. I have personally fallen into this pattern. We get on the treadmill of daily life (work, home, sleep, work, home, sleep) and convince ourselves to not make time to focus our attention.

The commitment to get on the mat in yoga class or go on a Yoga Retreat is a mindful opportunity of directing our thoughts and processing what we are allowing for in our lives. Today engage more directly with yourself. Only then can you know for sure if you are living life by accident.

And just like we learn to refine our practice of Alternate Nostril breathing, we can refine the consistency of how we direct our lives. Go big, dig deep and allow for your transformation to occur!

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!

(Nadi Shodhana)
• Sit in a comfortable position with the spine long and the hips relaxed. Release any tension from your jaw. Close your eyes.
• Place your left hand on your knee or in your lap.
• Place the tip of the index finger and middle finger of the right hand in between the eyebrows with the ring finger and little finger on the left nostril, and the thumb on the right nostril. Use the ring finger and little finger to open and close the left nostril and use the thumb for the right nostril.
• On an exhalation, close the right nostril with your thumb and breathe out through the left nostril.
• Breathe in through the left nostril and then close with the ring finger.
• Release the thumb on the right nostril and breathe out through the right nostril.
• Inhale through the right nostril, close with the thumb, release the ring finger from the left side and exhale through the left nostril.
• These two full breaths are called one round of Alternate Nostril Breath.
• Perform 5 to 9 rounds of this alternating breath between the nostrils.
• Remember to always inhale through the same nostril you just exhaled through.


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