What Is Surya Bhedana? Definition and Meaning
Surya translates to ‘sun’ and bhedana means ‘piercing,’ thus this breath technique is usually translated as the sun-piercing breath.
The right nostril represents the sun, or heat, action, and activity and the body. The left nostril represents the moon, or calmness. Surya bhedana is also associated with the syllable ‘ha’ whereas chandra bhedana relates to the syllable ‘tha.’ Together, these two syllables create ‘hatha,’ or balance in the body.
Read more about activating the left nostril in the parallel technique: chandra bhedana.
Surya Bhedana Breath Technique
The technique for breathing with surya bhedana is very easy to learn. The basic idea is that you are going to be using your fingers to alternately block the left and right nostrils.
To begin, sit in a comfortable position with an erect spine. Place your hand over your face, with your index and middle fingers touching lightly against your forehead. You will be using your thumb and ring finger to alternately close off each nostril.
To begin, use your finger to press lightly against your left nostril, and inhale through the open right nostril. At the top of the breath, switch your fingers, so you close off the right nostril, and then exhale through the open left nostril.
At the bottom of your exhalation, alternate your fingers once more, closing off the left nostril to breathe in through the right, and then exhaling once again through the left nostril, with the right nostril closed.
Continue this pattern for several minutes.
Watch this video for a demonstration of the sun-piercing breath, or, browse our complete list of pranayama techniques.
Please note that this technique is related to Nadi Shodhana – Alternate Nostril Breathing, with the difference being that in Surya Bhedana you consistently breath in through the right nostril and out through the left, whereas in alternate nostril breathing you switch your nostrils after a full cycle of breath.
This breath is also very closely related to chandra bhedana.
Surya Bhedana vs. Chandra Bhedana
It is easy to confuse surya bhedana and chandra bhedana, as the techniques are very closely related. The difference has to do entirely with which nostril is activated.
In Surya Bhedana, you always breathe in through the right nostril, and out through the left nostril. This activates the “sun” aspects of your body, bringing additional energy and life force.
In Chandra Bhedana, you breathe in through the left nostril, and exhale through the right nostril, activating the more calming “moon” forces within your body.
Benefits of Surya Bhedana Pranayam
Surya bhedana is used as a breath technique for the stimulation of mental and emotional energy. It increases body heat, or prana, in the body, which is the primary vital force.
In this way, the technique can be used to help you think more clearly and receive inspiration. Practiced correctly, it energizes you into action and aids in your progress towards your goals.
Read more about the health benefits of pranayama meditation.