The cold and dry air that accompanies winter weather can aggravate your sinuses, adding extra irritation on top of seasonal colds. While in the summer we can use sitali, the cooling breath, to reduce body heat, winter weather calls for the opposite approach. Here are three breathing exercises to help you build internal heat. You’ll get a jump on the weather, as well as a better awareness of your breath.
This staple of Hatha Yoga asana practice helps regulate the heating of the body. The friction of the air passing through the lungs and throat generates internal body heat. It is similar to a massage for the internal organs; as the core becomes warm from the inside, the body becomes prepared for the asana practice. This heat makes stretching safer while the inner organs can be cleansed of any toxins that have accumulated.
To create the Ujjayi. breath, one must constrict the back of the throat, similar to the constriction made when speaking in a whisper. Therefore, it is an audible breathe that is often compared to the sound of the ocean. Although there is a constriction of the throat, the Ujjay. breath flows in and out through the nostrils, with the lips remaining gently closed. For more heat, coordinate your Ujjayi Breath with a few rounds of half Sun Salutations or another rhythmic movement.
As the opposite of Sitali, which comes in through the mouth and out through the nose, Lion’s Breath goes in through the nose — you can use the Ujjayi constriction and sound — then out through the mouth with a “haaaaaaah” sound.
Bonus: This helps release stress, if only for its silliness. To really get into it, stick your tongue out, cross your eyes, and roar with each exhalation. A few rounds serve to build heat and shake out tension.
The bellowing action of the abdomen in energizing Kapalabhati Breath helps stoke your internal fire. Start with a clear nose (find a tissue!) and begin to cycle through forceful exhalations, pulling your belly in and up as you breathe out. Let the release of this belly pull in short inhalations. Pump through 20 short exhalations, then pull in a long Ujjayi breath, hold for a beat, and release. Continue for three to five rounds.
Published in the Huffington Post 18/12/2014