If you find yourself more bleary-eyed than bushy-tailed in the morning, try inviting some vitality into your day with an uplifting practice called “Breath of Joy.”
Benefits - Uplifting, energizing, and cleansing.
The Breath of Joy awakens your whole system. It increases oxygen levels in the bloodstream, temporarily stimulating the sympathetic nervous system and circulating more prana (life energy).
This practice may not be appropriate for everyone. Skip it if you have high blood pressure or if you suffer from any kind of head or eye injury, like migraines or glaucoma. If you start to feel light-headed, instead of light-hearted, stop for a minute and just breathe normally.
How to Practice
To practice Breath of Joy, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel, knees slightly bent.
Inhale one-third of your lung capacity and swing your arms up in front of your body, bringing them parallel to each other at shoulder level, with palms facing the ceiling.
Continue inhaling to two-thirds capacity and stretch your arms out to the side like wings to shoulder level.
Inhale to full capacity and swing your arms parallel and over your head, palms facing each other.
Open your mouth and exhale completely with an audible ha, bending the knees more deeply as you sink into a standing squat and swing your arms down and back behind you like a diver.
Repeat up to nine times. Don’t force or strain the body or breath; simply be absorbed by the peacefully stimulating rhythm. Return to standing. Close your eyes and experience the effects. Notice how quickly your heart beats; feel the sensations in your face and arms, and the tingling in the palms of your hands.
Try a Variation
For a lighter, brighter mood, add a bija (seed) mantra to each arm movement. As you lift your arms out in front of you, silently inhale the sound of va; as your arms move to the side, intone the syllable ra; with arms overhead, the sound is ya. Finish by exhaling completely as you speak the sound of ha out loud.
~Yoga International Magazine