HOW TO PRACTICE NADI SHODHANA PRANAYAMA

Oct 20, 2022

Nadi shodhana, also known as alternate nostril breathing, is a simple yet super effective pranayama technique that can be used by anyone, through any phase of the menstrual cycle and all throughout pregnancy. 

‘Nadi’ refers to the energy channels in the body.
‘Shodhana’ means cleansing or purification.

The two nadis we are primarily working with are:
IDA ~ the feminine, lunar, yin channel (left).
PINGALA ~ the masculine, solar, yang channel (right).

Through this breathing technique (pranayama) we balance these two energies in the body. At the same time ee balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

This breath is also very balancing for your hormones and your nervous system. It reduces stress and anxiety. And, once you've cultivated the practice in your body with awareness, it's something you can do while checking your emails, scrolling instagram or waiting in traffic. Your body remembers. 

HOW TO PRACTICE NADI SHODHANA: 

Begin by finding a comfortable seat where your spine is tall and your shoulders are relaxed. 
Your left hand can rest down in your lap wherever is comfortable. 
With your right hand, fold the first two fingers down toward the base of your thumb. 
You'll use your thumb to block your right nostril, and your ring finger to block your left nostril. 
You can rest your thumb and ring finger on each nostril, just where the bone and cartilage meet ,as your neutral resting point. 

Using your thumb, seal your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril for the count of five. 
Gently close your left nostril with your ring finger and release your thumb to exhale through your right for the count of five. 
Inhale through your right nostril for the count of five. 
Seal the right nostril and exhale through your left nostril for the count of five. 

This is one complete round. 

Continue for at least ten rounds of nadi shodhana. You can continue for as long as 10-15 minutes. 


WANT TO TAKE IT A STEP FURTHER? 

Adding a visualisation to your practice is a useful way to keep your mind focused as your breathe intentionally. 

I like to bring my attention to the mid-brain. Imagine drawing a line down from the crown of your head, and another line from your third eye centre (between your brows) back into the brain. The place where those two lines intersect is your mid-brain. 
It can be helpful to begin by visualising a warm light there as you breathe through both nostrils. 

Then, as you begin the practice of nadi shodhana, you can visualise the breath moving in through one nostril to the point in the mid-brain, then as you exhale, see the breath move from the mid brain out the opposite nostril. And continue like this. 
I see it as an upside down V of breath, with the apex being the point of light in the mid brain. 

Adding the visualisation means that your mind os focused as you breathe. 
It also means that, you can take this practice to an even more subtle space. 


MENTAL NADI SHODHANA: 

Mental nadi shodhana is the practice of alternate nostril breathing without the use of your hand to close each nostril. 
Instead, using your minds eye, you direct your breath in through one nostril and then out the other. 
This may sound a little bizarre, but it is a very potent and powerful practice. 
It's especially useful if you don't have use of your hands, you're in a public place and want to be inconspicuous, or your right arm simply gets tired. 
When you practice mental nadi shodhana, using the visualisation mentioned above is efficacious in keeping your attention focused. 

When we practice pranayama, we are manipulating prana with our mind, body and attention. 
Prana = life force or breath
Yama = control. 

These subtle practices often have the most profound effects in my experience. 

Give these techniques a try and please feel free to let me know how you go. My inbox is always open. 

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