Nadi Shodhana or alternate nostril breathing is a grounding, breath-work technique that is rooted in the yogic traditions. In this practice, you use your finger and thumb to gently alternate opening and closing your nostrils while you breathe smoothly and continuously. Physically, this technique helps to clear and release toxins from the body while increasing your body's oxygen levels. It can help to balance hormone levels and open the airways for clearer breathing.
Mentally, Nadi Shodhana has been shown to powerfully calm the mind, relax the body, and reduce anxiety. Alternate nostril breathing is a great way to regulate your nervous system, especially during times of extreme stress. I'm also always surprised at how clear, focused, and alert I feel after a session of alternate nostril breathing. This technique can be so supportive to your mind and emotions!
On a spiritual level, alternate nostril breathing balances the right and left channels of the body and the aura. The right side of our energy field represents our masculine and solar energies, whereas the left side houses our feminine or lunar energies. When our energy body is perfectly balanced, we feel harmonious, grounded, and in alignment. However, when one side becomes too energetically dominant, we can start to see the imbalances in all areas of our lives.
"Remember we were created in balance. The Divine masculine and Divine feminine both exist within us. Not gender but energy... not physical qualities but spiritual equalities. Consciously consider how you nurture them, so that they may feel safe and wrapped in your flesh." - Shynell Elizabeth
Nadi Shodhana is a more advanced breathing technique. It is recommended to practice alternate nostril breathing for at least five full minutes to receive the greatest benefits. However, if you are new to this, I'd start by practicing just five rounds or breathing cycles. If that felt good in your body, then you can try ten breaths the next round and build up from there. It's important that you listen to your body when practicing breath work because it may take some time and patience to be able to complete the exercise in its entirety. I've linked a short eight-minute tutorial on Insight Timer that teaches you how to do Alternate-Nostril Breathing. I'd encourage you to practice with a tutorial for the first time.
Start by sitting in a comfortable position.
Place your dominate hand at your nose, with your thumb and finger gently touching the sides of your nostrils.
Completely exhale all the air out. Then use your thumb or finger to gently close your right nostril.
Inhale through the left nostril. Then close the left nostril.
Exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril. Then close the right nostril.
Exhale through the left nostril. This is one complete cycle. The cycle always ends by exhaling on the left side.
Repeat for at least 1 minute before allowing the breath to return to normal.
Simple formula for one complete cycle: Inhale left side. Close left nostril. Exhale right side. Inhale right side. Close right nostril. Exhale left side.
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