Breathing is a tool through which we regulate the Prana flow within the body. Apart from just natural breathing we do, Yoga has several breathing techniques which let us play with Prana, called ‘Pranayama‘.
Surya Bhedana is classical pranayama which energizes the Prana and fills the solar energy inside the body.
Every breath fills & energize the Prana, right! What makes Surya Bhedana different from normal breathing?
Well, Limited patterning of inhalation and exhalation respectively through the right and left nostril is what makes Surya Bhedana different from normal breathing 1.
Surya Bhedana is one among 8 classical Pranayama mentioned in Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP). Its importance is described in it, as
This excellent Surya Bhedna destroy diseases rises from the excess of wind, purifies the brain and cures ailments caused by worms (bacteria). ~ HYP verse 50
Meaning of Surya Bhedana
In yogic terminology, the right nostril referred to the ‘gateway of Sun Energy’ or ‘Pingala Nadi’ and left nostril is ‘gateway of moon energy’ or ‘Ida Nadi’. Sun energy is the representation of hot or masculine vitality in the body while Moon energy represents calmness or feminine vitality.
If we go by the literal meaning of Surya Bhedna, ‘Surya’ means ‘Sun’, ‘Bhedana’ means ‘Piercing’ or ‘Entering’. While Pranayama comprises ‘Prana’ is the ‘Life Force’ and ‘Yama’ is the ‘Control’.
It translates to a breathing exercise which let Prana enter (Bhedana) through the right nostril in the form of sun-energy (Surya) in the body.
Simply speaking, Surya Bhedana Pranayama is the deep inhalation of breath through the right nostril, then holding the breath for as long as comfortable and finally, exhaling through the left nostril.
Importance of Surya Bhedana
We need some energy to digest the food we eat 2, right! But where this energy stems, is navel. In yoga, ‘Navel’ considered the place of the Sun in our body.
When we practice Surya Bhedana Pranayama, we actually stimulate internal organs of the navel region. We generate heat through right nostril breathing and subtle Nadis network 3 in the body, redirects this heat to the navel region. The heat came through Pingala Nadi (right nostril) used in the digestion process and also intestinal worms dissolved in it.
Pingala Nadi (right nostril) considered to originate from the base of the spine4 . The base of the spine is the place where Kundalini energy lies in the dormant state and also Muladhara/root chakra besides here.
The practice of Surya Bhedana Pranayama cultivates our awareness around the base of the spine region. In this way, this pranayama is an important practice to awaken the kundalini energy or the root chakra.
How to Perform Surya Bhedna?
Step 1 – Sit comfortably on the mat in any cross-legged postures. You can adopt either Easy Pose (Sukhasana) or Lotus Pose (Padmasana) for Right nostril breathing.
Check the alignment of your spine & head. Make sure they aligned in one straight line for the best result from Pranayama.
Step 2 – Make Mrigi mudra (deer seal) [sometimes also called Vishnu mudra] with your right hand and bring it close to the left nostril to shut it from ring finger & little finger. Make Gyan mudra with your left hand.
Mrigi Mudra – Fold your right-hand’s index finger & middle finger down towards palm while keep ring and little finger as in the natural position.
Step 3 – Inhalation
Begin Surya Bhedana Pranayama with taking a deep breath in from the right nostril (while left nostril kept closed).
Step 4 – Retention
After inhaling through the right nostril, close your right nostril with your right thumb and hold the breath in for a while.
Step 5 – Exhalation
Release your ring and little finger from left nostril (while kept shut your right nostril with thumb). Exhale out completely the held air from the left nostril.
Feel the hot air coming out through the left nostril while exhaling. It shows how much heat is generated inside the body during Surya Bhedana Pranayama.
One Round of Surya Bhedana Pranayama – Step 3 (Inhale right) + Step 4 (Hold) + Step 5 (Exhale left)
Continue in this manner – Inhale right, hold in, exhale left for 1-3 minutes or simply 5-10 rounds.
The ratio of Inhale: Hold in: Exhale for Surya Bhedana Pranayama
Beginners can skip step 4 i.e. holding the breath in. In beginning ratio of Inhale: Exhale = 1:1
For an advanced practitioner, a ratio of Inhale: Hold: Exhale is 1:4: 2. It means if you inhale in a second, hold the breath for 4 seconds and exhale completely in 2 seconds.
You can opt this ratio after practicing this breathing for at least 15 days.
There are a few precautions that need to be followed while practicing right nostril breathing. These include:
- Should be practiced on an empty stomach or 4-5 hours after eating food.
- Inhalation should always be through the right nostril.
- Exhalation should happen only through the left nostril.
- You should not do this exercise if you suffer from high blood pressure, a heart condition, or epilepsy.
- Consult a doctor before doing this exercise if you have undergone any surgeries in the recent past.
- Refrain from doing it if you are running through high temperature.
Tips For Best Results
- Hold the breath inside only for a comfortable period of time. Do not push yourself to extremes.
- Can be done at any time of the day as long as there is a gap of 4-5 hours after eating a meal.
- Leave behind all noise, thoughts, and distractions while practising it and concentrate on the root chakra.
The main benefits of practicing Surya Bhedana Pranayama are-
- It increases the efficiency of the digestive system.
- Sun energy comes through Surya Bhedana activates the physical body along with all its associated functions.
- Replenishes the oxygen supply in the blood.
- Activates the pranic energy and gives vigour to the body.
- Drastically improves the symptoms of depression.
- Energizes and invigorates the body and reduces weariness and exhaustion.
- Cleanses the frontal sinuses.
- Increases the body’s temperature and clears mucus imbalance.
- Reduces anxiety and helps manage stress better.
- Removes blockages in the pranic energy channel which leads to spiritual awakening.
Surya Bhedana represents energy associated with the syllable ‘Ha’ in Hatha Yoga. ‘Ha’ means Sun, Heat. When doing this breathing in conjunction with the left nostril, it brings a balance of heat & cool, happiness and sorrow.
Practicing Surya Bhedana Pranayama a few times each day helps to control our breaths, thoughts, and emotions. It gives the feeling of peace, happiness, and contentment. Regularly practicing the right nostril breathing technique also slows down the aging process. Considering its multifarious benefits, there seems to be no reason why it cannot be made a part of our daily routine. For a happy and healthy life embrace Surya Bhedana Pranayama today.