If you are looking for balance and clarity, you might want to try ‘alternate nostril breathing‘ or Nadi Shodhana. It is a simple but powerful technique that deeply relaxes the mind and body. Not only is it used before meditation or yoga practice to quiet the mind, but it can help calm racing thoughts. It will soothe stress and anxiety, promote clear thinking, balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and… it is a great practice if you are having trouble falling asleep.
The Sanskrit word nadi, derived from the root nad , means “flow,” “motion,” or “vibration.” Nadis are energy channels in the body and Shodhana means clearing or cleansing. Nadi Shodhana is the clearing of our energy channels to keep the flow of prana (life energy), flowing freely.
According to many Tantric texts, the human body contains over 72,000 nadi’s that channel prana to every cell. When this system flows freely, we are vital and healthy; when it becomes weak or congested, we struggle with poor mental and physical health.
There are 3 main nadi’s. Sushumna nadi is the body’s great river, running from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, coiling through each of the seven chakras in its course. In subtle terms, the sushumna nadi is the path to enlightenment. Ida runs from the left nostril to the third eye point then coils through each chakra to the root and into the left genital. It governs right brain functions and the parasympathetic nervous system. Pingala runs from the right nostril to the third eye point then coils through each chakra to the root and into the right genital. It governs the left brain functions and the sympathetic nervous system. Ida and Pingala nadis spiral around the sushumna nadi crossing each other at every chakra. Eventually, all three meet at the ajna chakra, midway between the eyebrows. In everyday life, one of these nadis is always dominant. Although this dominance alternates throughout the day, one nadi tends to be ascendant more often and for longer periods than the other.
Ida-like individuals have lunar (moon), or nurturing, qualities. They are full of potential, but unless they develop their pingala side may never manifest that potential in either worldly affairs or spiritual development. Pingala-like individuals have solar (sun) qualities: type A personalities, lots of creativity, abundant vitality. But unless they develop their ida side, they may lack the quietude, introspection, and receptivity necessary to yield to the grace of spiritual awakening.
Bringing Ida and Pingala into equilibrium is a major focus and the most powerful method of balancing ida and pingala is Nadi Shodhana, alternate-nostril breathing. This practice is effective because the ida nadi is directly connected to the left nostril, and the pingala nadi to the right.
So… lets begin this pranayama (how we relate to our breath). Sit in a comfortable seated position and start to notice your natural breath. Don’t change anything, just notice, as you inhale and exhale thru your nose a few times. Then, using your right hand, place the pads of your thumb and ring finger gently on your nose above the nostrils. After an exhale, close off the right nostril with your thumb and breathe in through the left nostril. Close off both nostrils (thumb closes off right nostril and ring finger closes off left nostril), retain the breath for a moment, then keep the left nostril closed as you breathe out through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, close off both nostrils, retain the breath, then keep the right nostril closed as you breathe out through the left nostril. Breathe in throught the left nostril. This completes one full round of Nadi Shodhana. Continue breathing in this pattern for 5-10 rounds. After finishing, release your arms to rest on your thighs and allow you breath to come back to its natural rhythm. Close your eyes, and notice how you feel.
Never use forceful breathing during Nadi Shodhana. As you get comfortable with this breathing technique, you can then begin to increase the length of the inhale and exhale.
In Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, due to the deep penetration of prana, the blood receives a larger supply of oxygen than in other types of pranayama The nerves are calmed and purified, and the mind becomes still and lucid.
Its practice keeps the body warm, destroys diseases, gives strength and brings serenity.
As always, I welcome any comments or questions which you may leave at the bottom of this post. Feel free to share this post with anyone you feel might benefit from the information here.
Love and Light,