morning pranayama

In this video I’m going to teach you a quick and easy pranayama or breathing practice that you can do in the morning before or after yoga and meditation or even by itself.  It’s called the 9 Clearing Cycles and it’s an ancient Tibetan practice that help wake up your body, increase your vitality and improve your concentration skills.

This is the second post in a series of my personal morning rituals that I’m sharing with you. If you want to live a positive, intentional life, then starting your mornings with ritual is a where you should begin! Last week I shared a morning yoga practice for stiffness that you can do with this breathing practice. 

Though I love doing this pranayama practice in the morning, it’s fine to do it anytime of the day. In addition to combining it with yoga and meditation, it can be part of your other self-care rituals like acupressure massage.  I have a FREE self-acupressure guide that you can download below which will help keep you relieve tension and manage stress. You’ll love it!

self acupressure guide
Download for FREE here!

Morning Pranayama: Nine Clearing Breaths

In the morning, most of us want to build energy, but it’s important to make space in the body and mind first.  The 9 clearing cycles is a nostril breathing practice that was introduced to me by my teacher Sarah Powers over a decade ago. 

These Nine Clearing Breaths help to clear the energy channels of the body as well as the “poisons” of the mind which impede energy flow and stall our development.  This practice always helps me start the day with receptive awareness which is necessary to keep a positive, open mind, and attract good things. 

Try it! I know you’ll experience the same as well if this becomes part of your morning practice.

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Clearing the Nadis and Energy Channels

In this practice, we’re going to be working with the breath moving through the left and right nostrils.  These relate to the Ida and Pingala nadis or energy channels of the body, that circulate Prana, Qi, also known as our “life force” that is connected with the breath. 

Ida Pingala Sushumna Nadis and the Chakras
The Ida & Pingala nadis serpentine around the main nadi, the Sushumna,
which contains the chakras or energy wheels of the body.

These channels help balance yin/yang, left/right, female/male energy, and certain habitual tendencies related to these energies. They serpentine around the Sushumna, the central channel, which contains the chakras or energy wheels. 

You’re purifying these three channels as well as the chakras in this breathing practice.  It also incorporates quick exhalations from the belly which awakens our main power center, Manipura, the 3rd chakra.  This is where you’ll experience a burst of energy.

How to do the Nine Clearing Cycles

Come into a comfortable seated position and make sure your spine is long and lifted.

We’re going to use our right hand to control the breathing for this whole practice. Cross the pinky finger over the ring finger as you’re looking at the palm. Place the ring finger to the left nostril, the thumb to the right nostril. The other two fingers rest at the third eye, in between the eyebrows.

Pre-Clearing the Nadis

First we’re going to prepare the channels by doing a pre-clearing.

  1. You can open your airways with essential oils like Peppermint or the Breathe Blend.
  2. Then close the right nostril and take five deep breaths through the left nostril.  See if the inhalation and exhalation can be about 5 seconds in length. The left nostril relates to Ida nadi, yin, and one’s feminine nature.  The poison of the mind associated with it is attachment or greed.
  3. Then close the left nostril and take five slow breaths through the right nostril.  This relates to Pingala nadi, our yang, masculine nature. The poison related to this nadi is anger.

Nine Clearing Cycles

Now we’ll do the Nine Clearing Cycles working with the Ida first (left nostril), then Pingala (right nostril), and then through both nostrils.  there’s three cycles for each nadi which equals nine.

Each cycle consists of four parts (see video above for demonstration):

  1. Inhale through the nostril for ~ 5 seconds.
  2. Exhale through the nostril for ~ 5 seconds.
  3. Inhale through the nostril for ~ 5 seconds.
  4. Exhale quickly through the nostril and with the belly pressing in toward the spine (not so hard that it’s like your blowing your nose).

Let’s start with opening the ida, the left nostril.  Imagine that you’re letting go of your attachments and greed.  This can be the way you’re physically holding on to material items, or old patterns and beliefs.   

With the pingala, the right nostril, you’re letting go of any anger, hatred or aggression in your life.  

Now bring the hand down and do the cycles through both open nostrils, imagining that you’re letting go of any delusion, misunderstanding how life is working around you.

After the nine clearing rounds, inhale and hold the breath in for 10 seconds.  Exhale slowly and hold the breath out for 5-10 seconds. Finish with three slow, even, deep breaths.


I hope you feel more clear, awake, and maybe even more powerful after doing this morning pranayama practice! Please let me know in the comments if this is something you’d like to add to your morning ritual!

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Written by Brandy Falcon
I help families manage modern health challenges by connecting them to traditional wisdom and healing practices.  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE