A Guide to Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing
Brush Up on Your Sanskrit
Nadi - energy flow, channel
Shodhana - cleaning, purifying
Nadi Shodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breathing, is a traditional yoga breathing practice that balances the two hemispheres of the brain - clearing and purifying both the mind and physical body. It is suitable for everyone, and should ideally be done either before your physical practice or following relaxation.
The Yogic Concept
According to Ayurvedic texts, nadi’s are the energy channels in the body that can get blocked by negativity, stress, toxins and an unhealthy lifestyle. Nadi Shodhana aims to equalises the energy flow in the body through the ida (the left nostril which is calming and cooling), and the pingala (the right nostril which is energising and warming).
The Science Behind It
Scientific research has shown that breathing through the left nostril activates the right side of the brain (responsible for creativity), and breathing through the right nostril activates the left side of the brain (responsible for logic). As both sides of the brain are being stimulated - a balancing effect can be perceived across the mental and physical functions, and the emotions.
The Benefits of Nadi Shodhana & Alternate Nostril Breathing
1. Enhances the respiratory system, increasing its strength and endurance.
2. Activates the nervous system, reducing blood pressure and heart rate.
3. Focuses the mind, improving concentration, and fine motor coordination.
How to Practice Nadi Shodhana
1. Sit in a comfortable seated position and make this hand position, known as Mrigi Mudra.
2. Close the right nostril with your thumb, and inhale slowly through the left nostril.
3. Close your left nostril with your ring/little finger, and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
4. Keeping your ring/little finger over the left nostril, inhale slowly through the right nostril.
5. Close the right nostril with your thumb, and exhale slowly through the left nostril.
6. You have completed one cycle! Repeat 5-10 rounds then return to your normal breath.