Definition - What does Swara Yoga mean?
Swara yoga is a type of yoga that emphasizes the study, control and manipulation of breath as a means to achieve self-realization. It is related to, but broader than pranayama, which only relates to breath control, as Swara yoga also integrates an understanding of the solar, lunar and seasonal activities, as well as the physical and mental condition of the yogi. As such, its practices and theory are more extensive and comprehensive.
Swara is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as “sound” or “note.” It can also refer to the continuous flow of air through only one nostril.
Yogapedia explains Swara Yoga
The teachings of Swara yoga come from "Siva Swarodaya," an ancient Sanskrit Tantric text that was commented on and translated by Satyananda Saraswati in 1983. It is in this translation that the term, Swara yoga, was adopted. It is written in the form of a dialogue between Shiva and Parvati. The text teaches that Swara yoga is useful for initiating any action. This may include waking up, eating, bathing and studying.
Swara yoga explains that there are three swaras, or modes of breathing, and they all have specific applications related to the nadis:
Ida nadi — breathing only through the left nostril. This is suggested as relevant for initiating charity work, long distance travel, reciting holy books, chanting mantras and other pious activities.
Pingla nadi — breathing only through the right nostril. This is recommended for any activities that are very hard or challenging, such as certain types of studying, acts of aggression, climbing mountains and short distance travel. It is also for acts that gratify the senses.
Sushumna nadi — breathing through both nostrils. This is recommended for worship and devotional activities.
Swara yoga also has applications for healing, and it is recommended that at the first sign of any disturbance, the dominant nostril for breathing should be changed to help the body and mind to come back into balance.