Nadi Shodhana is also known as ‘alternate nostril breathing’ and is a technique that is very simple to master. It is useful for settling the mind as well as the body, and can be used to clear the mind before meditation begins. Many people who are suffering from stress and anxiety find that it can help their mind stop racing. It is also useful for stopping these thoughts if they are preventing you from sleeping.
The purpose of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is to regulate the flow of air through your nasal passages which can help create a feeling of balance. It was discovered by Ancient Yogis that we do not breathe completely through both nostrils at the same time throughout the day, and characteristics of the brain hemispheres are shared by the corresponding nostril. Breathing through the right nostril will make the logical left side of our brains more dominant and breathing through the left nostril increases the dominance of the creative right side.
There are a number of different styles of Nadi Shodhana but the purpose of practising it will always be the same. The name Nadi Shodhana is given to this practice because it literally means ‘clearing the channels of circulation’.
How To Practice Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
Practising Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is actually very simple and all you need to do is follow a few easy steps.
- Make sure that you are comfortable but you should be sitting tall in your seat with a straight spine.
- Your left palm should be placed comfortably on your lap while your right hand is held just in front of your face. The right hand position used is called “Vishnu Mudra” in Yoga.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose, and exhale.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Take a slow and steady breath in through your left nostril.
- At the top of the inhalation, close your left nostril with your right ring finger and release the right nostril.
- Exhale through the right nostril (still keeping the left nostril closed).
- Slowly inhale through your right nostril (still keeping the left nostril closed).
- Close your right nostril again, release the left nostril and exhale slowly through the left nostril.
This is one cycle.
You can continue and inhale again from the left nostril (point 4) etc. The whole process should be repeated between 5 to 10 times.
As you are breathing, clear your mind of everything else and concentrate only on your breathing. One cycle should take about 30/40 seconds on average so ensure that you are giving yourself enough time to complete the whole process. For the best results, your inhaling and exhaling should all take the same amount of time to complete. Five seconds each is a good place to start and then you can start to increase this as you become more confident in what you are doing.
What Are The Benefits Of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama?
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is often used when people find themselves in a stressful situation as it is so useful for clearing the mind. However, you will also find that it has a number of other benefits as well:
- Rebalances the breathing between your two nostrils.
- Restores the balance between the two hemispheres of your brain.
- Restores the channels of energy in your body.
- Calms the mind. Relieves stress and anxiety.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Improves your ability to focus the mind.
- Strengthens your lungs and respiratory functions.
- Rejuvenates your nervous system.
- Helps to remove toxins from your body.
- Cleans out sinuses (good for allergies).
One of the best things about Nadi Shodhana is that is can be practiced anywhere and so you are able to do it whenever you begin to feel stressed or panicked. You should immediately start to feel a lot calmer and this makes it easier for you to concentrate on the situation at hand with a clear head which usually means that you are able to deal with it more easily. Many people also find that if they practice Nadi Shodhana before bed that they are able to fall asleep easier and also that the quality of their sleep improves.