Surya Bhedana (Right Nostril Breathing) – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Yoga Practices & Techniques Glossary

I. What is Surya Bhedana (Right Nostril Breathing)?

Surya Bhedana, also known as Right Nostril Breathing, is a pranayama technique in yoga that involves breathing through the right nostril while closing off the left nostril. In Sanskrit, “Surya” means sun, and “Bhedana” means piercing or passing through. This practice is believed to activate the pingala nadi, the energy channel associated with the sun and masculine energy in the body.

The right nostril is said to be connected to the pingala nadi, which is responsible for qualities such as heat, energy, and action. By practicing Surya Bhedana, one can stimulate and balance this energy channel, bringing about a sense of alertness, vitality, and focus.

II. How to Practice Surya Bhedana

To practice Surya Bhedana, find a comfortable seated position with the spine straight and shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself. Then, bring your right hand up to your nose and use your thumb to close off your left nostril.

Inhale deeply through your right nostril, filling your lungs with air. Hold the breath for a moment at the top, then release your left nostril and exhale slowly and completely. Repeat this process for several rounds, focusing on the sensation of the breath moving through the right nostril.

It is recommended to practice Surya Bhedana for 5-10 minutes each day, either on its own or as part of a longer pranayama or meditation practice. As you become more comfortable with the technique, you can gradually increase the duration of your practice.

III. Benefits of Surya Bhedana

There are several benefits to practicing Surya Bhedana regularly. Some of the key benefits include:

1. Increased energy and vitality: By stimulating the pingala nadi, Surya Bhedana can help boost energy levels and promote a sense of alertness and focus.

2. Improved digestion: The practice of Surya Bhedana is believed to stimulate the digestive fire, or agni, in the body, which can aid in digestion and metabolism.

3. Balancing of the nervous system: Surya Bhedana can help calm the mind and balance the nervous system, reducing stress and anxiety.

4. Clearing of the nasal passages: By focusing on breathing through the right nostril, Surya Bhedana can help clear any blockages in the nasal passages and improve respiratory function.

IV. Precautions and Contraindications

While Surya Bhedana is generally safe for most people to practice, there are some precautions and contraindications to be aware of. It is important to listen to your body and consult with a qualified yoga teacher or healthcare provider if you have any concerns or underlying health conditions.

Some precautions to keep in mind when practicing Surya Bhedana include:

– Avoid practicing on a full stomach, as this can interfere with the breath and digestion.
– If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or any respiratory conditions, consult with a healthcare provider before practicing Surya Bhedana.
– If you experience dizziness, lightheadedness, or any discomfort while practicing, stop immediately and rest.

V. Surya Bhedana in Traditional Yoga Texts

Surya Bhedana is mentioned in several traditional yoga texts, including the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Gheranda Samhita. These texts describe the benefits of practicing Surya Bhedana for balancing the energy channels in the body, improving vitality, and promoting overall well-being.

In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Surya Bhedana is recommended as a practice to increase heat and energy in the body, particularly during the winter months when the sun is less prominent. The text also suggests that practicing Surya Bhedana can help purify the nadis, or energy channels, in the body.

VI. Variations and Modifications of Surya Bhedana

There are several variations and modifications of Surya Bhedana that can be adapted to suit individual needs and preferences. Some common variations include:

– Alternate Nostril Breathing: This technique involves alternating between breathing through the right and left nostrils, balancing the flow of energy in the body.
– Sitali Pranayama: This cooling breath involves inhaling through a curled tongue and exhaling through the nose, helping to reduce heat and calm the mind.
– Kapalabhati Pranayama: This cleansing breath involves forceful exhalations through the nose, helping to clear the sinuses and energize the body.

By exploring these variations and modifications of Surya Bhedana, you can find a practice that resonates with you and supports your overall health and well-being. Remember to listen to your body and practice with awareness and intention to experience the full benefits of this powerful pranayama technique.