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Nadi Shodhana // Alternate Nostril Breathing


by Sheyna Haisman-Holmes

Nadi shodhana is a pranayama practice (breathing technique) that has countless health benefits on the body & mind. It is used as a prescription in Ayurveda for a large spectrum of imbalances like anxiety, sleep, focus, digestion, etc. Nadi shodhana translates to “purification of the channels”. It is a tool that can be used in multiple situations and provides an immediate balancing effect.

Nadi’s are the channels that run throughout the body. There are thousands of Nadi’s and the 3 main ones are Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. Ida is the left side of the body, Pingala is the right, and Sushumna is the center channel. Ida holds the moon/feminine qualities while Pingala holds the sun/masculine. These two sides intertwine around Sushumna, creating a DNA shape of energy channels. Where Ida and Pingala cross Sushumna is where the main 7 chakras reside. By breathing life and balance into these two sides, Sushumna gets more activated, increasing vitality, creativity and awareness. Nadi shodhana can bridge these two sides of the body, clearing blockages and bringing harmony to the body.

Benefits of Nadi Shodhana:

~Releases toxins

~Oxygenates the body

~Balances hormones

~Calms the nervous system

~Relieves anxiety and stress

~Relieves allergy symptoms

~Increases mental clarity

~Balances masculine and feminine sides of the body

~Balances both hemispheres of the brain

~Helps prepare the mind for a restful sleep or meditation session

~Calms a chattering mind

How to practice Nadi Shodhana:

Nadi shodhana can be done anywhere you can sit with a straight spine, whether it’s in a parked car or on your meditation cushion. It is advised to practice on an empty stomach to allow flow in the body. When the body is trying to digest, it isn’t able to detox the nadi’s or focus as well.

Sit with a straight spine and eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths to connect with the breath and the present moment. The left palm can rest in the lap or on the left knee.

Vishnu mudra- with the right hand, fold the middle and index fingers until they touch the palm. The thumb will be used to close the right nostril and the ring and pinky fingers for the left nostril. The Vishnu mudra is known as the “gesture of universal balance”, further adding to the balancing effects of this practice. If your hand feels strained, you can rest your middle and index fingers on your third eye. This may help activate the third eye chakra and bring more concentration to the nose & the breath.

Empty out your lungs on a deep and slow exhale. Close the right nostril with the right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Pause at the top of the inhale, releasing the thumb from the right nostril and closing the left nostril with the ring and pinky fingers. Exhale through the right nostril, and then take another slow inhalation through the same nostril. At the top of this inhalation, switch the fingers to close the right nostril with the thumb. Slowly exhale here through the left nostril. This completes one full round of nadi shodhana. Practice this for 10 rounds or for 5-10 minutes if you prefer to not count rounds. When completed, return to a few deep full breathes to round up this pranayama session.

Simply remember:

Start: Inhale through the left nostril

Finish: Exhale through the left nostril

May we all be balanced 🙂

8/24/23

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