As more people embrace meditation and breathwork techniques across the globe, we’ve learned that pranayama helps restore balance between the sympathetic (fight/flight) and parasympathetic (rest/digest) branches of the nervous system, amongst many other things.
Many breathwork exercises can serve this purpose, and different techniques will work for different folks.
Chandra Bhedana, which translates into English as Moon Breathing (and also known as Lunar Breath) is one of the basic practices to help you regulate your nervous system and find more balance.
This breathing exercise invites you to align with the energies of the moon, fostering a deeper connection with your inner self and with how you feel. In this article, we will explore the history and the benefits, and how to practice Moon Breathing to harness its power.
We will share:
- The origins of moon breathing
- Moon breathing and the nadis
- The benefits of Chandra Bedhana
- How to practice moon breathing
- Chandra Bhedana vs. Surya Bhedana
- How to incorporate moon breathing into your life
Dive in with us!
The origins of moon breathing
Chandra Bhedana, often known as Moon Breathing, originated in the ancient practice of Pranayama, the fourth of the eight limbs of yoga according to Patanjali.
In Sanskrit, “Chandra” (चंद्र) means “moon,” and “Bhedana” (बेधन) means “piercing” or “penetrating” So, “Chandra Bhedana” can be translated to mean “piercing the moon” or “moon-penetrating.”
You can think of Chandra Bhedana as a variation of Nadi Shodhana, a technique designed to purify and balance the energy channels, or nadis, within the body.In Nadi Shodhana, you’ll alternate breathing from one nostril to the other, while in Moon breathing, you’ll only breathe through the left nostril.
The concept of Chandra (moon) and Surya (sun) breaths stems from the belief that these celestial bodies have a profound influence on human energy and well-being.
Chandra Bhedana is deeply intertwined with ancient Indian philosophy and the understanding of the subtle energies within the body.
It is considered a valuable tool for achieving mental and emotional balance, as well as harmonizing the body’s natural rhythms with the cycles of the moon.
The Chandra Namaskar, for example, the moon salutation yoga sequence, incorporates moon breathing techniques to balance the body’s energy while moving, with the particular goal of embodying the qualities of the moon.
Chandra Bhedana has become an integral part of yoga and holistic wellness practices, offering you a way to connect with the soothing energies of the moon and its cycles, in order to find better alignment in your life.
Moon breathing and the nadis
When speaking of the subtle body, it is important to speak of the Nadis first.
They are intricate pathways through which our life force, or prana, flows, carrying vital energy just as rivers carry water through the land.
These nadis represent the dualistic nature of energy within us:
- Associated with the lunar, cooling, and receptive energy, the Ida Nadi resides on the left side of your subtle energy body. It corresponds to the left nostril and influences qualities like calmness, intuition, and nurturing energy.
- Pingala Nadi embodies solar, dynamic, and energizing qualities, residing on the right side. It corresponds to the right nostril and is associated with qualities like action, vitality, and heat.
In our daily lives, these two nadis are rarely in perfect balance. However, through yogic practices such as pranayama, we can influence and harmonize their energies.
The benefits of moon breathing
Practicing Chandra Bedhana can help you find a better energetic balance and more harmony in your life, especially when you’re trying to slow down and create more space for rest and softness.
There are many benefits to introducing this pranayama practice into your routine:
- Chandra Bhedana activates the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety.
- Regular practice of this breathwork technique can really support your quality of sleep, making it easier to not only fall asleep but stay asleep as well.
- It can help manage emotions and reduce mood swings, fostering emotional stability.
- Moon breathing cools the body, making it beneficial during hot weather or when feeling overheated.
- This pranayama can improve mental focus and concentration, making it a useful tool for when you need to work or study and feel scattered.
- It may help in regulating blood pressure by calming the nervous system.
- Lunar breath helps in the removal of toxins from the body by facilitating deeper exhalation.
- Regular practice can enhance lung capacity and improve respiratory function.
- It serves as an excellent preparation for meditation, calming the mind and making it easier to enter a meditative state.
- Chandra Bhedana complements other pranayama techniques and yoga practices, helping to balance the body’s energy system.
Remember that when getting started with any new technique, you may want to practice Moon breathing under the guidance of an experienced yoga, breathwork, or meditation teacher – especially if you are new to pranayama, to ensure you are doing it safely.
How to practice moon breathing
If you’re ready to try lunar breath with us, here is a basic step-by-step guide on how to do this soothing and cooling pranayama exercise:
Step 1: Preparation
Begin by finding a comfortable seated position, like Sukhasana preferably in a quiet and serene environment.
Sit with your spine straight and your hands resting on your knees, palms facing down.
Step 2: Centering
Before getting started with the exercise, soften your gaze or close your eyes, and take a few deep, grounding breaths to center yourself and arrive into the practice.
Let everything be put aside for just a bit as you engage in the Moon breathing.
Step 3: The mudras
Moon Breathing primarily utilizes two mudras (hand gestures) to perform the practice:
- Vishnu Mudra: This mudra involves folding your index and middle fingers towards your palm while keeping your thumb, ring finger, and little finger extended.
It is used to block or close the right nostril while practicing Chandra Bhedana, allowing for a focused inhalation and exhalation through the left nostril. Vishnu Mudra helps channel the breath effectively.
- Alternatively, and to simplify the practice, bring your index and middle finger right between your eyebrows, onto your third eye, and use your right thumb to close the right nostril and perform this breathing exercise.
These mudras, in conjunction with mindful breath control, deepen the practice of Chandra Bedhana, enabling you to tap into the soothing, lunar energies for emotional balance and tranquility.
Step 4: Chandra Bhedana
Once you feel centered and a bit more focused, begin the practice of Moon Breathing.
Bring your right hand into the preferred mudra and then place your right thumb to gently close off your right nostril. You don’t need to fully close the nostril, just restrict the flow of air a little bit.
Inhale slowly and deeply through your left nostril. Allow your breath to be smooth and controlled.
After a full inhalation, feel free to pause at the top and work with Kumbhaka. Then, when ready, close your left nostril with your right ring finger, release your index finger, and exhale through the right nostril.
This completes one cycle of Chandra Bhedana.
Continue for several minutes, maintaining a slow, steady rhythm.
Step 5: Repeat and Balance
Focus your attention on the cooling sensation of the breath as it enters and exits through the left nostril.
Feel a sense of calmness and tranquility wash over you with each exhalation.
Chandra Bhedana vs. Surya Bedhana
Chandra Bhedana could be considered the yin to Surya Bedhana‘s yang.
While Lunar breathing emphasizes the left nostril and invokes a sense of calm and coolness, Surya Bedhana primarily involves the right nostril and is associated with warmth and energy.
How to incorporate moon breathing into your life
When delving into the realm of pranayama and energy balancing, consider the dynamic interplay of your daily emotions and needs.
You have the opportunity to cultivate self-awareness by paying close attention to how you feel on any given day. With this awareness, you can consciously select the pranayama technique that aligns with your desires and with what you need.
For instance, if you wake up feeling sluggish and require a boost of energy, Surya Bhedana is an excellent choice, as it invigorates and uplifts.
On the other hand, if you find yourself stressed or anxious and need to cool down and relax, Chandra Bedhana offers a calming and soothing effect.
Alternatively, when seeking a sense of equilibrium and balance amidst life’s fluctuations, Nadi Shodhana can harmonize your energies.
By tuning into your inner state and selecting the appropriate pranayama practice, you empower yourself to foster the emotional and energetic flow you seek in your life.
Incorporating Chandra Bhedana into your daily routine can be a transformative experience, fostering emotional equilibrium and tranquility.
For more on the divine energies, read this article on Shiva and Shakti: