Classic Yoga

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Surya Bhedana Pranayama


Surya Bhedana Pranayama is an uninostril breath control technique similar to Chandra Bhedana Pranayama. It is one of the eight classic Pranayama techniques and is a vitality-stimulating Breath. It generates heat and alters the normal Swara cycle of breathing. Moreover, Surya Bhedana is an activatory Pranayama and dynamic in nature.

According to Gheranda Samhita, the medieval yoga text, Surya Bheda destroys death and decay (aging), awakens Kundalini, and increases the digestive fire.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika, another medieval yoga text, says that it destroys the Vata disorders and worms. Also, it cleanses the cranium. and the Yogi can awaken his Kundalini by practicing Uddiyana Bandha with this Pranayama.

We learn that this breathing technique offers many health benefits. Before we take this technique to practice, we should understand more about it.

In this article, we discuss the meaning, steps, and benefits of this breath control technique.

Surya Bhedana Pranayama Meaning and details

The Sanskrit word Surya means Sun. It refers to Pingala Nadi, a psychic channel on the right of Sushumna. Similarly, the Sanskrit word Bhedana means to pierce or to pass through. Hence, Surya Bhedana Pranayama is a breath control technique that pierces the right psychic channel. Psychic channels are the pathways of Pranic energy. This Pranayama technique purifies or clears all the blockages in the right psychic channel and ensures the free flow of Pranic energy. Therefore, it gets this name. Modern Yogis call it Vitality Stimulating Breath or Right Psychic Channel Cleansing Breath. Also, some people call it Right Nostril Breath as the technique involves mainly the right nostril.

When you check your breathing with your palm or fingers, you could find that either the right or left nostril is in dominance. If your right nostril is more dominant, your Surya Nadi (Pingala Nadi) is active. Similarly, if your left nostril is more dominant, your Chandra Nadi (Ida Nadi) is active. If your Sushumna is active, breathing in both nostrils is equal. This pattern of breathing happens in a cycle where one of the three Nadis is active at a time. This breathing cycle is known as Swara Cycle or Swara Yoga. When you perform Surya Bhedana, you are forcefully activating Pingala Nadi during the practice.

Surya Bhedana Pranayama Precautions and Contraindications

This practice stimulates the Sympathetic Nervous System. Hence, persons having health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and epilepsy should not practice this technique. Also, it tends to increase both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Moreover, this practice generates body heat. Hence, it should be avoided in conditions like fever. Also, one should avoid this practice in mental conditions of anger. This is because it is activatory.

Furthermore, it disturbs the process of digestion, and hence, one should avoid this practice after a meal.

Performance of this technique for a longer duration may alter the overall breathing pattern (Swara Cycle). It may give some undesirable results. Therefore, you should understand what you are doing.

The practitioner should add foods of cold potency.

Surya Bhedana Pranayama Steps and Procedure

I give below the basic procedure. A beginner can start with this and include Bandhas at a later stage.

Step 1

Sit in a meditative yoga posture. Close your eyes and breathe slowly for a couple of minutes.

Step 2

Put your right palm in Nasikara Mudra wherein the ring finger of your right hand occludes your left nostril by pressing the left nostril on the outside.

Step 3

Then, inhale slowly through the right nostril in such a manner as to cause friction in the throat up to the heart. Retain the breath to your capacity by pressing the right nostril on the outside by thumb. Now both your nostrils are pressed from outside.

Step 4

Then, release the pressure on the left nostril and exhale slowly. In short, the inhalation is restricted to the right nostril, and Exhalation is specified through the left nostril. This is one round.

Step 5

Repeat Steps 2 to 4. Ten rounds are enough for a beginner.

Surya Bhedana Pranayama Benefits

It cures the imbalances caused by Vata Dosha or the excess wind element in the body. Also, it cleanses the frontal sinuses.

This practice activates the Pingala Nadi. In modern medical terminology, it activates the Sympathetic Nervous System. It drives out lethargy and enables physical activity and dynamism. It makes the mind more alert. The increase in physical activity may be helpful in reducing body weight and increasing the rate of metabolism. The increased rate of metabolism can be helpful for hypothyroidism and obesity.

Unilateral Right Nostril Breathing reduced the Intraocular Pressure indicating sympathetic stimulation. (S.M.Mohan et al., 2001).

This practice increases Blood Pressure. Hence, it can be applied as a possible therapeutic application in conditions of low blood pressure. (P Raguraj and Shirley Telles, 2008).

Breathing exclusively through the right nostril several times a day for a month will increase the baseline oxygen consumption by 37%. (Shirley Telles et al., 1993).

Practice before a meal will help in digestion, as it increases the digestive fire.

One study concludes that practicing Surya Bhedana before Basketball might be enhancing shooting performance. (Virendra Singh et al., 2016).

Difference Between Surya Bhedana and Anulom Vilom Pranayama

Anulom Vilom is alternate nostril breathing, whereas Surya Bhedana is unilateral nostril breathing. Anulom Vilom improves cardiac functions and breathing. It reduces stress and balances the Central Nervous System. Contrarily, Surya Bhedana is contraindicated for persons having heart issues. It activates Sympathetic Nervous System.

Surya Bhedana Vs Chandra Bhedana

Surya Bhedana is activatory and Chandra Bhedana is relaxative. The former is indicated for conditions like dullness, drowsiness, and lethargy, whereas the latter is conducive to hyperactivity. Surya Beda increases blood pressure, whereas Chandra Bheda decreases blood pressure.

Bottom Line

Though this Pranayama offers many health benefits, it is not suitable for everyone. It can be helpful only in specific health conditions. For a healthy person, practicing it in the morning before a yoga session will be beneficial and not suitable for practicing before going to bed. However, it can be helpful for an obese person to practice it in the evening. You should consult your healthcare provider if you take this practice for therapeutic applications.

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