There are many different types of yogic breathing, but Swara yoga breathing is perhaps the most intricate of all the breathing exercises performed in yoga. It is thought that, with this type of breathing exercise and meditation, one is able to align the male and female energies within each of us, thus allowing us to bring about a more balanced physical and spiritual lifestyle.
Swara yoga breathing is considered to have its roots in the ancient teachings of the natural world as it pertains to the influence of the cycles of the moon. In ancient times, because of its ability to stimulate the intuition to bring the individual closer to the unseen forces of nature, the practice was reserved for an elite circle of royalty. Today, these teachings are still not readily available in every community, but where they do exist, anyone is welcomed to participate.
This is not an easy process to master. Swara yoga breathing is usually taught by someone who has devoted most of their life to perfecting themselves in this teaching.
There are three Swaras that you should be aware of: Right Swara (Pingala Nadi), Left Swara (Ida Nadi), and Third Swara (Sushumna). Each of these types of breaths is correlated to the female or the male, or to the act of combining the two, as in body and spirit. Swara yoga breathing identifies the left nostril as the female energy, characterized as virtuous and prosperous, while the male energy comes through the right side nostril and represents masculine and aggressive characteristics. In simplest terms, each nostril alternates in being closed while the breath is taken in only through the open nostril. By comparison, the more recognizable Pranayama breathing exercise is about the drawing in, holding and releasing of the breath through both nostrils at the same time.
Swara yoga breathing is difficult to master. It is not a technique that you can learn by reading a book, but rather from participating fully in a dedicated series of classes that are conducted by an experienced teacher. Some of its teachings seek to awaken the individual's intuitive consciousness of nature, to attain a more balanced mind, and to learn the ability to remove the individual’s own negativity. Teachers of this practice request only the most sincere students, given that it is a teaching that will take years, if not a lifetime, to understand and perfect.
Swara yoga breathing is perhaps the most intricate of all the breathing exercises performed in yoga.