How to Be Aware of Breath in the Nostrils


Can you give me tips on becoming aware of the natural breath in the upper nostril area?

—sanjay , india


Dear Sanjay, The best way to become aware of the breath in the upper part of your nostrils is through learning and practicing daily Yogananda’s Hong-Sau Technique of concentration/meditation. In the Art and Science of Raja Yoga, Swami Kriyananda, while carefully explaining this technique, includes the following information about breathing in different parts of the nostrils:

“Begin by mentally watching the breathing process: the movement of lungs, navel, and diaphragm; gradually only, as you grow calmer, shift your attention to the breath itself. At this point, feel it as it enters the nostrils. And even here you may find it natural to go through a transition from physical to more subtle awareness. That is, as the breath becomes finer, feel it gradually higher and higher in the nasal passage. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna gives the counsel to concentrate on nasikagram, ‘the beginning of the nose.’ Commentators often interpret this passage to mean ‘the tip of the nose,’ since agra means ‘front’ as well as ‘beginning.’ But no subtle chakra, or nerve plexus, exists in the tip of the nose. It is at the other end of the nose that yogis concentrate. Here is the seat of spiritual vision. Normally, to make it easier to locate, this seat is spoken of as being located at the point between the eyebrows. But where the breath is considered as part of the concentrative process, it is more appropriate to think of this seat as being located at the origin of the nose. In fact, the real center is situated in the frontal lobe of the brain. The breath, as it enters and leaves the nasal passage, passes very close to this point. To visualize the breath passing this point helps to stimulate this center. As you watch the breath in the nose, then, feel it becoming gradually calmer until you can feel it at the point between the eyebrows.”

In addition, you might try feeling/experiencing the coolness of the air as you inhale and it passes through the nose up into the sinus area, then in turn, feel the warmth of the air as you exhale and as the air passes back out of the sinuses into the nostrils.

In the beginning of this process, try placing your right index finger horizontally under your nose and feel the gentle sensations of coolness and warmth being created there, as you inhale and exhale. When you have a good sense of these sensations, move your finger away and transfer the feeling into the lower nose, then up into upper nostrils, and finally into the area of the sinuses and the point between the eyebrows.