What Is Nadi Shodhana Breath?

Nadi shodhana breath technique

Enhance your yoga or meditation practice with nadi shodhana breath…

If you’ve been doing yoga for a while – especially any type of yoga that focuses on Pranayama or breath practices, you may have been introduced to nadi shodhana – or alternate nostril breathing. (The Sanskrit term “nadi” means “stream,” “channel,” or “flow,” while shodhana means “cleansing” or “purifying.”)

This type of breathwork is often done as a cleansing practice to help balance your energy, and is included in many different meditation and yoga practices – particularly Kundalini yoga and other types of yoga with a strong focus on breathing techniques.

The Benefits of Nadi Shodhana:

Besides cleansing and balancing your body’s energy channels, alternate nostril breathing is also believed to help to calm the mind, improve focus and clarity, reduce stress and anxiety, promote better sleep, and both relax and energize your bodily systems. Some studies have found that this breathing technique may also help to increase respiratory health and endurance, improve cardiovascular health, and regulate body temperature.

If you would like to improve your overall physical and mental health using one simple practice that you can do in just a few minutes a day, you may want to try adding nadi shodhana to your yoga or meditation practice. It’s ridiculously simple to do, and as noted above, can offer some great potential benefits to your life! Try it before bed, before meditation, during or after your yoga practice, or whenever you need to relax and connect to the present moment. For best results, do it twice a day, before eating, and with an empty bladder.

How to Do Alternate Nostril Breathing:

The name of the practice itself basically describes how to do it, but here’s a quick primer:

Find a seated position. You can move into Easy Pose, Lotus Pose, or simply rest on your heels. The point here is to be comfortable, so take whatever position works best for you. Take the time to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. Use a chair, blanket, wall, or any other supportive prop that you need. Sit with your spine extending up and your shoulders softening down your back. Do a check of your body, and let go of any tension that might be lingering.

Take a few moments to take a few deep inhalations and exhalations, releasing tension on each exhale. Ensure you are comfortable and free of any physical tension before moving on.

Once you are comfortable, you can begin nadi shodhana. Using your right hand, place your thumb on the outside of your right nostril to close it. Inhale slowly through the left nostril. At the top of your inhale, place your ring finger on the outside of your left nostril to close it. Pause for a moment, and then take your thumb off your right nostril. Exhale through your right nostril.

After your exhalation, inhale slowly through your right nostril, with your left nostril still blocked with your ring finger. At the top of this inhalation, close your right nostril with your thumb. Pause for a moment, and then take your ring finger off your left nostril to exhale through your left nostril. Again, inhale on the left, and then move on to the right.

Repeat this pattern between five to ten times. Once you are finished with the practice, release your right hand to your knee, and return to a normal breathing pattern.

While practicing nadi shodhana is generally safe for most people, there are a few instances where you may wish to use caution or consult your doctor before practicing this technique:

…You may want to take a step away from the practice if you have a severe headache, have a fever, or have a seizure disorder. Those with high blood pressure, asthma, or any lung or heart issues may want to consult with a doctor before implementing the practice into their routine.

If you are dealing with a cold or your nasal passages are blocked in any way, you will need to wait until they clear up. If you are extremely tired or overly restless, you may want to take other steps to calm down before your practice. During the practice, if you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or nauseous, cease immediately and return to normal breathing.

Learn more about nadi shodhana at YogaPractice.com

 

About the author

Rose S.


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