II. Pranayama or Breathing Exercises
- The Cleansing Breath is an ideal practice for children with asthma, sinus conditions, and bronchial congestion.
- Place one hand on the belly to feel the movement during this particular breathing exercise. With the other hand, hold a piece of facial tissue in front of the face. Take a slow, deep breath in, followed by a very quick, forced exhalation. The student should be able to see the tissue move with the exhalation.
- The Bellows Breath is a highly energizing, rapid-breathing exercise, providing many of the same benefits as the Cleansing Breath. These vigorous in-and-out movements of the abdomen strengthen the diaphragm; saturate the lungs and blood with freshly oxygenated air; and aid in digestion, thereby benefiting the entire body. Bhavanani, Madanmohan, & Udupa (2003) found that visual reaction time (VRT) and auditory reaction time (ART) significantly decreased in school-aged boys who practiced nine rounds of bellows breath or mukh bhastrika. Reaction time (RT) is an index of the processing ability of central nervous system and a simple means of determining sensory-motor performance. The authors recommended the practice of Bellows breath to individuals with prolonged RT, such as children with intellectual disabilities and older adults.
- Place one hand on the belly to feel the movement during this particular breathing exercise. Start with a rapid inhalation, immediately followed with a rapid exhalation. Start with doing one set of 10. Encourage the student to clear the nose after each set. For children, a helpful cue is to have their breathing imitate that of a 'choo-choo' train.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing calms the mind; strengthens the entire nervous system and helps to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain; strengthens the immune system; stimulates digestion; and develops concentration.
- With the right hand, keep the thumb, ring and pinkie fingers up, while the index and middle fingers are down/ tucked. This hand gesture is known as Vishnu mudra. The thumb will cover the right nostril, while both the ring and pinkie fingers will cover the left nostril.
- Close the right nostril with the thumb, and take a deep inhale through the left nostril.
- Hold the breath in, closing both nostrils.
- Keeping the left nostril closed, exhale slowly through the right nostril.
- Take a deep inhale through the right nostril, hold the breath and exhale slowly through the left nostril.
- Repeat the exercise.