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The “nasal cycle” phenomenon is widely known in the scientific community and has been subject to multiple studies. Yogis had known about it for hundreds of years and used it effectively to change the body’s temperature and one’s mental state,

At any given moment you are naturally breathing through one dominant nostril (sympathetic dominance); then sometime later the body’s central nervous system, switches to the other one. This switch happens roughly every 2-2.5 hours and continues in a rhythmical fashion. This is achieved by the stimulus of erectile tissue in the nasal cavities.


Multiple research studies show that the way your body functions is quite different based on which side of the body has sympathetic dominance.

When the sympathetic system is dominant on the right side and parasympathetic system is dominant on the left, (right nostril dominance):

  • Right lung dominant

  • Generally, more active state

  • Locomotor activity increased

  • Heart rate increased

  • Blood pressure increased

  • Respiration rate increased

  • Body temperature increased

  • Cortisol increased

  • Prolactin secretion reduces

  • Testosterone increased

  • Endorphins increased



When the sympathetic system is dominant on the left side and parasympathetic system is dominant on the right, (left nostril dominance):

  • Left lung dominant

  • Generally, more resting state

  • Locomotor activity decreased

  • Heart rate reduced

  • Blood pressure reduced

  • Respiration rate reduced

  • Body temperature reduced

  • Cortisol reduced

  • Prolactin secretion increased

  • Testosterone reduced

  • Endorphins reduced



In the course of the day, our body alternates between more active and more restful states.

Yogis used different language to describe it this process. Yoga teaches us that our energy balance is affected by the flow of energy along major energy channels, called nadis:

Ida nadi (lunar channel) is cooling and has overall feminine quality; it terminates at the left nostril. Pingala nadi (solar channel) is heating and has an overall masculine quality; it terminates at the right nostril.

Breathing in through a nostril will emphasize the qualities of that channel; breathing out through the nostril will sedate the corresponding channel. This model is used widely in a therapeutic context.

Sometimes there might be too much heat in the system (for example, if somebody has hot flashes or feels angry/irritable), which can be helped by breathing in through the Left nostril (to stimulate the lunar channel) and out through the right (to sedate the solar channel).

When there is not enough heat in the system (for example, cold limbs, low blood pressure, depression), it can help to breath in through the Right nostril (to stimulate the solar channel) and out through the Left (to sedate the lunar channel).

What I find interesting is how we can influence sympathetic dominance. When we lie down on our left, the right nostril, (upper) will broaden, this can be evident when we are congested trying to sleep. It was once thought that this was due to gravity, but current thinking is that it is the pressure exerted on the down arm and the chest, setting up a reflex that automatically dilates the nostril that is higher and closes the one that is lower.

We can try this when we go to bed, lying on our left side for a while, 5 to 10 minutes activating the right nostril and raising the body heat, once warm and comfortable, turn over to the right, allow the left nostril to open, calming, relaxing and preparing for sleep.

Many yoga breathing techniques focus on the balance and stimulation of energy which can help deal with some of the stresses we face in modern times. These have been around for thousands of years and are now becoming relevant and recognised.


I'm looking forward to my first Movember 'men only' class, places are filling and there's a good deal of interest so far.. I will be promoting the classes on BBC Radio Berks at 10:00 Wednesday 2 Nov which is great for yoga and Movember!! Interestingly yoga was a practice exclusively for men, it is only early in the 1900s that it shifted, as it became more popular in the west. There's a lot of misrepresentation around yoga, and the yoga community do not help themselves at all..

There are many blends of yoga, finding the right one for you is the key, find the wrong one and it could put you off forever. I was really fortunate to find a great teacher, right for me and the rest is history. Please do your research. I'm not saying that my yoga is right for all men, but I do know how men tick and I will incorporate elements that will resonate with them and I will signpost some of the other forms of yoga so that they can explore as well.

If you're interested in what type of yoga is right for you, please drop me a line and we can talk it through..

Richard

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At a time when we, as human beings, are becoming more and more sedentary, we are also becoming disconnected with normal functional movement of our evolved biped form.

Our ancestor hunter gatherers would have moved stealthily through the jungle, with ease, controlling the breath, sharpened senses, with alertness, not quite the tightness and physical constraints that some of us live with presently. Some may see exercise as not for them, the perception of a painful process with little immediate gain mainly to achieve long term aesthetic improvement, the actual benefit of how moving the body makes you feel, has been largely ignored.

I am fascinated with vinyasa yoga style of movement, ‘vinyasa’ translates to movement steadily with the breath a dynamic sequenced moving practice that doesn’t simply focus on static singular yoga postures, the individual’s flexibility, or lack of..

Neither is it dogmatic or metaphysical, referring to cultural learnings of centuries ago that might appear like the ‘emperors’ clothes’ to some.

Vinyasa yoga is of this age. It enables practitioners re learn how to move functionally, the way the human body, with all its component parts, should naturally move. We relearn how to apply core stability, use the breath to greater efficiency, achieve grounding and foundation whilst we become acutely aware of the position of the body in space, without the need for a mirror! We move fluidly, with grace and integrity. This movement requires high levels of concentration, it epitomises mindful movement.

Those that practice vinyasa yoga, (yoga flow or power yoga) on a regular basis know that something positive happens every time they practice.

Stamina and endurance are developed through the dynamic movement of the practice, both lengthening and contracting muscle groups, creating deep strength without building unnecessary bulk, the body become more toned and defined.

The flowing movements promote both cardiovascular, (CV), and muscular stamina. CV stamina is developed through the continuity of movement and muscular stamina with the static holds of the postures. It is not wholly aerobic; the breath rate will rise but with careful sequencing and interspersed restorative postures, the heart rate will achieve its optimum. Fitness improves with each practice session as we learn more about our bodies and improve the technique of our movement.

Increasing circulation with movement and efficient control of the respiratory system, tones the whole body. The muscles, internal organs connective tissues and skin are bathed in a continuous flow of fresh blood, bringing nutrients to the cells and removing toxins and waste, purifying. The whole body is cleansed and nourished more efficiently than with other forms of exercise movements than may create and stagnate lactic acid and toxins.

Thereby, the respiratory, digestive, circulatory, endocrine, immune, and reproductive systems will all benefit, improving overall health and physical wellbeing. We improve our focus and concentration, and the sense of satisfaction and achievement is unparalleled in any other form of exercise.

Practice with care and attention and you will feel deep, but alert relaxation when you have finished. Those that are residually tired and perhaps will feel more tiredness, this will pass after a few practice sessions. With time and consistent practice, the feeling of release and relaxation you achieve at the end of practice will infuse your life, you will become more and more relaxed with your everyday activities, and within yourself.

Vinyasa yoga is as challenging as we make it, we are in control, and we can experiment and innovate with the movements. It is accessible for absolute beginners, the teacher will take you through the sequences and you will discover how wonderful 'vinyasa' is!

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