Balanced by your breath: Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
Ever noticed how your breath changes when you’re deep in relaxation, or seems to speed up when you’re feeling excited or agitated?
That is your body’s normal response to your present environment, thoughts or feelings. What if there was a way you could use your breath to balance out how your body and mind are feeling? Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhana, is an easy breathing technique you can use today to help you feel more balanced by your breath.
What is Alternate Nostril Breathing?
Alternate nostril breathing, or Nadi Shodhana in the Sanskrit language, is a conscious breathing technique or form of Pranayama.
It helps to balance the body, by regulating the nervous system, which can make a difference to how your body and mind respond to the every day stresses of life. Using Nadi Shodhana as a daily practice can help with:
- Lowering your stress levels
- Improving your breathing overall
- Reducing feelings of anxiety
So how do you do it?
Practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing
Start by finding a comfortable place, seated in a comfortable posture that will allow you stay relatively still for a few minutes.
- Using your right hand, place your:
- right thumb on your right cheek, just outside your right nostril
- right index and middle fingers resting gently on the space between your eyebrows
- and ring and little finger together, next to the left nostril
- Gently pressing the thumb on to the right nostril, exhale slowly through the left nostril
- Relax the thumb to open the right nostril, then gently press the ring finger against the left nostril to close and inhale
- Keeping the hand in the same position, exhale deeply through the right nostril
- Relax the ring finger to open the left nostril and gently press the thumb to close the right nostril, then inhale
- Keeping the hand in place, exhale deeply through the left nostril
Steps 2 – 6 are considered one round. Repeat a round of left and right alternate nostril breathing as many times as you like, though we like to suggest 18 is a good number to aim towards.
If you feel comfortable and have the rhythm of the hand and breath, you can close down the eyes as you continue through the practice.
You may also want to use the Gyan Mudra, by placing the back of the left hand on the knee and bring the index and thumb together to form a circle. Remembering to take gentle but deep and continuous breaths throughout the practice.
Other things to consider
Using alternate nostril breathing is safe for most.
If you have a pre-existing condition like asthma or low blood pressure, it is best to speak to a doctor before attempting a new breathing technique.
Keen to learn more?
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Put it into practice: View our Cammeray Yoga timetable here to attend a yoga class including a range of techniques including Asana (posture), Pranayama (breathing) and meditation.