Swara is one of many Sanskrit words integrated into the Western world of yoga practice. Swara translates in English to musical note or sound, but as a type of yoga Swara refers to the steady breath taken in through a single nostril. Swara Yoga is a practice that teaches yogi to reach a level of concentration allowing them to focus on controlling each breath that enters through the nostrils.
If you are familiar with other Sanskrit yoga terms, you may know pranayama, which are breathing techniques. Swara Yoga is also a breathing technique, but it differs from other pranayama because it has a direct correlation with nature. Swara Yoga is the study of breathing in association with the seasons, hour of time, the positions of the planets, moon, and sun, as well as the yogi’s state of mind and being. Swara Yogi believe that upon entering a new day, one should be aware of the phase the moon is in and which nostril is breathing stronger so that one can step out of bed with the foot on the same side of the body as the dominant nostril. The cosmic energy is more effective this way.
The practice of Swara Yoga is thousands of years old and pre-dates the Vedic era. Swara Yoga was reserved for those of higher power, such as kings, and was privately practiced. It is said that saints derived their knowledge directly from higher powers. The Swara Yoga practitioners felt that keeping their yoga a secret would keep the practice strong and learned only by the worthy. During these years, Swara Yoga was viewed differently and was used to predict the future, as good luck art, to allow people to take a closer look at planetary issues, and many other cures and end-alls.
Swara Yoga has always helped people relate to life and use natural occurrences to their advantage. To become more aware of one’s surroundings and oneself simultaneously is an incredible feat, but certainly attainable through this form of yoga. It is unusual and fascinating that by remaining attentive to the function of such a small body part, it is possible to choose the paths of not only your actions but your circumstances as well. It is important to know which choice is always best, and this is the way to enlightenment. Swara Yogi constantly check the state of their nostrils and choose the path of the strongest flow of breath to make positive decisions and work with their environment.