February 11, 2019 Nadi Shodhana -Alternate Nostril Breathing"
One of my favorite breathing techniques or pranayama is Nadi Shodhana, commonly known as Alternate Nostril breathing. I find it relaxes me and helps to calm my mind. Settling in for meditation is still challenging for me and if I start my practice with nadi shodhana I find it helps me settle.
Nadi means passage through which breath or energy flows, or channel. Shodhana means purifying or cleansing. A few cycles of this breath can help bring you back to center. If you’re feeling nervous, anxious about a conversation, or generally stressed out, try a few minutes of nadi shodhana and see how you feel.
Benefits of Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing
· Calms the mind, body, and emotions
· Improves focus
· can lower stress and anxiety
· Supports lungs and respiratory functions
· can help alleviate respiratory allergies
· regulation of cooling and warming cycles of the body
· Restores balance in the left and right hemispheres of the brain
· Removes toxins
· Rejuvenates the nervous system
· prepare for better sleep
· prepare for deeper mediation
When to Practice
You can practice in the morning to start your day, as an afternoon pick me up, or to prepare for a good night sleep. You can use it as an opening or closing to your asana (physical) practice, or as part of your meditation practice.
Practicing can help to restore balance in just a few minutes. Practice for 5-10 breath cycles building up as you feel ready. Although the practice itself can have great effects, practicing regularly for 5-15 minutes a day will offer deeper benefits.
How to practice Nadi Shodhana, Alternate Nostril Breathing
· Come to a comfortable seat either on the floor supported on a blanket or cushion, or in a chair feet planted on the floor
· Left your left hand relax in your lap and your right hand fold your pointer and middle finger into your palm. You will use your thumb and ringer finger of your right hand to close off the nostrils
· Take a few deep breaths in and out the nose to begin
· after an exhale bring your thumb to your right nostril closing it off and inhale through your left nostril slowly and completely filling the lungs
· place your ring finger on the left nostril closing it off and exhale through the right nostril completely
· after complete exhalation inhale through the right nostril slowly
· close off the right nostril with your thumb and exhale through the left nostril
· This is a complete cycle, perform this 5-10 times. As you are breathing focus your awareness on the pathway- up one side of the body from the pelvic floor to the crown, back down the other side of the body. Breath remains slow, gentle, fluid, and relaxed
· When first starting out focus on smooth and even breaths, starting with a 4 count inhale and a 4 count exhale
· When you are ready to be done after exhaling though the left nostril, rest your hands in your lap and breath normally through both nostrils. Notice how you feel.
· There are many variations of Nadi Shodhana. More advanced practices may incoporate breath retention and specific duration for inhalation and exhalation. This is meant to be an introduction to start your practice. Of course it is best to learn any new techniques from a qualified teacher.
· **Do not practice if feeling short of breath or light headed