On Breath 1. The Ganesh belly principle. When doing pranayama, we should always have a lose and free belly like that of Ganesh, the Elephant God, but with the lower abs and pc muscles toned. I always imagine the upper torso as a balloon. The opening at which you blow in air into the balloon is like your PC muscles. When you blow air into the balloon, or when you inhale, you have to close the opening to prevent air, or energy, from escaping, so the balloon or your belly can expand freely.
2. Sitting bones. Not only does grounding your sitting bones firmly on the ground when sitting helps keep your spine erect, it also helps relax the psoas muscles, which in turn helps lift your lower back, your kidneys, and your diaphragm. This creates a clear path for your prana to flow through.
3. Pingala vs Ida. These are the two opposing nadis, or subtle channels, in our body. Ida is the left channel (or your left nostril), which is associated with coolness, femininity, and the moon. In Richard's words, when your Ida nadi is stronger (or when your left nostril is more open), it is like when you have one too many beers--kind of lazy, dazed, scatter-minded. The opposing nadi, the Pingala nadi, is the sun channel associated with masculinity and heat. When the pingala nadi is dominating, it is like you having an expresso shot--you're clear-minded and focused.
4. Meditate on the breath. Richard always said to meditate on the inhale when you exhale, and meditate on the exhale when you inhale. I was overcome by the wisdom of this phrase, because this is the stepping stone to meditation. You'd want each of your inhales and exhales to be perfect, efficient, calming in order to achieve a quiet mind.
Click here for Part I.