Morning breathing exercise

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This sequence will wake you up, clean your energy and purify your blood. If you feel groggy in the morning, if it's difficult to get out of bed, if you have more anxiety than enthusiasm as you anticipate your day, then this will help you enormously. It will get you ready to start your day in the best possible way, with a clear mind, energized body and high spirits.

The sequence takes 20 to 25 minutes if you do the full times; but you can shorten the times as needed, as long as they stay approximately in the same proportion (for example, instead of 7-5-3-2, you could do 4-3-2-1 or even 2-2-1-1).

All of the exercises are done in Easy pose (comfortable cross-legged position), with the hands in gyan mudra (thumb and index lightly pressed together), the arms straight, the eyes closed or just slightly open. You may also do this series sitting in a chair or-- why not!-- lying in bed.

Before you begin, take a moment to assess how you feel.

1. Begin with 7 minutes of steady Breath of Fire, pumping the belly. Start out slowly if you need to. This will wake up your system, clearing out sleepiness and old energy. After 7 minutes, inhale and hold the breath for 30 seconds, keeping the body still and relaxed, then exhale.

2. Now start taking long, deep breaths through the nose. Breathe more deeply than usual, so much so that the entire rib cage lifts several inches with each inhale. Let the body open, let the ribcage and lungs open, fill yourself up with prana. Continue for 5 minutes. To end, inhale and hold the breath 15 seconds, then exhale.

3. On your next breath, inhale through puckered lips, as if taking air in through a straw; exhale through the nose. Continue inhaling through the lips, exhaling through the nose. Your breath will naturally become long and slow, and you will start to feel very calm and relaxed. Continue for 3 minutes. Then inhale, hold briefly, exhale.

4. Now begin Breath of Fire again, very powerfully and rhythmically, for 2 minutes. This Breath of Fire will likely feel different from the first one-- more powerful and fiery. It will give you a lot of new energy. After 2 minutes, inhale deeply and hold it for as long as is comfortable, focusing your gaze upwards at the 3rd eye point and keeping the body relaxed (you might be surprised at how long you're able to easily retain your breath after the preceding exercises). Then exhale and relax.

5. Finish by meditating with normal breathing. Feel the flow of energy through the whole body. Assess how you feel now as opposed to how you felt when you started. Stay still and relaxed for as long as you want.
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