The ‘Tamas’ (lethargic) can dominate your persona and make it almost impossible to start your day on a high note. The yogic way, to overcome this everyday challenge to transform Tamas into Rajas, is to practice just a few rounds of Suryabhedan in the bed itself before starting your day.
Suryabhedan Pranayam is one of the important pranayamas described in the classical yogic texts. ‘Surya means ‘Sun’, ‘Bhedan’ refers to ‘Piercing’ or ‘awakening’, thereby, stimulating and awakening energy within the physical and pranic bodies. In this blog, I am describing only the first level of Suryabhedan without ‘Kumbhak’ and ‘Bandha’ so that it can be easily practiced by anyone who does not have any critical health issues.
- Assume any comfortable sitting posture with your spine in neutral position
- Take a few deep breaths to center yourself
- Assume Pranav Mudra (Using right hand, thumb out, next two fingers (index & middle fingers) folded and last two fingers (ring & little fingers) stretched)
- Left palm can simply rest on your left knee or can be put in chin mudra on the left knee
- Very softly block your left nostril with the right ring finger (the aim is to block the air flow and not to push the nose to the other side with force)
- Inhale through your right nostril. Feel the flow of inhalation from your navel to the crown of your head by expanding the frontal part of your spine vertically and then horizontally. Inhale gradually and without any force to the maximum.
- Block your right nostril with the right thumb; release the lock on the left nostril
- Exhale rhythmically from the left nostril. During exhalation, you are simply releasing the expansion that you had created during inhalation from the top of your crown reaching to the navel in a systematically reverse order.
- This is one round.
- Gradually, with extended practice, you should try to double your exhalation to your inhalation.
Some schools of Yoga also recommend inhaling and exhaling only from the right nostril and call it Suryaabhyas. However, it may shut off the functions of the left nostril completely.
Duration & Frequency
Prolonged practice of Suryabhedan has shown multiple benefits. However, one needs to have that level of readiness, in terms of having a toxin free body & mind. As a beginner, it is advisable to start with 10 rounds. Over time, practice can be extended to 10 to 15 minutes. Do not exceed 20 minutes of practice at one stretch as exceeding 30 minutes can cause imbalance in the breathing cycle.
Time of practice
The preferable time of practice is on an empty stomach in the morning.
Energizing you with the properties of the Sun
Associated with the characteristics of the Sun, prolonged practice of Suryabhedan ingrains the quality of awakened energy, vitality and dynamism in you. It makes your mind alert, perceptive and thereby, preparing you towards the path of meditation. Your Nervous System especially Sympathetic Nervous System is revitalized and blockages in the pathway of energy channels are removed.
As it is energizing in nature, it is also recommended during stress & depression, to change the flow of tamasic energy to a vibrant one by increasing your alertness, concentration & bringing about changes for ‘Readiness for Action’.
Low Blood Pressure
Recommended for people with Low Blood Pressure
Suryabhedan cleanses sinus cavity, thereby, improving your breathing vitality
Weight Loss & Obesity
It has been seen that frequent prolonged practice of Suryabhedan alone can be very effective in weight loss. It increases the temperature of the body, thereby, burns the accumulated toxins. Basal Metabolic Rate increases by regular practices, which helps in burning fat as well.
Vata & Kapha Imbalance
People with Vata & Kapha imbalance are advised practice of this pranayama.
Energizes Digestive System
Suryabhedan destroys intestinal worms, increases gastric juices and thereby, enhances digestive health.
Tradition texts recommend this practice in case of infertility.
This should definitely be in ‘the list’ of your winter yogic practice to energize your system.
- Not to be practiced in case of blocked nostril, hypertension, heart problem, hyperthyroid, anxiety, anger, epilepsy, peptic ulcer or when suffering from external heat boils, fever or constipation.
- Check the predominance of your particular nostril. If right nostril is predominant, it is not advisable to practice this Pranayama then. As dominance of the nostril changes at regular interval, you can perform Suryabhedan with the change of dominance.
The Gherand Samhita says suryabhedan, “Prevents old age and death, increases the body heat and awakens kundalini.’ (5:62,63)
References: The Gheranda Samhita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Yoga & Kriya
Shammi Gupta, founder of Shammi’s Yogalaya holds an MA in Yoga Shastra, is a certified Yogic Therapist and Naturopath, has completed an Advanced Yoga Course and holds a Diploma in Yoga Education from Mumbai University. She is a certified trainer from American College of Sports Medicine and holds an MBA in HR & MBA in Finance from The University of Akron, Ohio, USA. She conducts Health Awareness Workshops for Corporate, Yogasana Workshops for Athletes and Yoga Therapy Workshops on different medical issues for patients. Among the celebrities Shammi trains are eminent personalities from the film and television industry and corporate world.