Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Nadi Shodhana, also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing, is a powerful breathing practice with wide-reaching benefits. Nadi is a Sanskrit word meaning “channel” or “flow” and shodhana means “purification.” Therefore, nadi shodhana is primarily aimed at clearing and purifying the subtle channels of the mind-body organism, while bringing balance to the system as a whole. It is balancing for all three doshas and is a suitable practice for most anyone.

To practice Nadi Shodhana, one must sit in a comfortable position, either cross-legged on the floor or in a chair with the feet flat on the floor. The spine should be erect, and the eyes gently closed. The practice involves using the right hand to control the flow of breath through the nostrils, with the index and middle finger placed on the forehead between the eyebrows, and the little finger and ring finger gently placed on the left nostril. The right thumb is used to close the right nostril, and the breath is gently breathed out through the left nostril. The breath is then breathed in through the left nostril, and breathed out through the right nostril. This pattern continues, with the breath always being breathed in from the same nostril from which it was exhaled.

Nadi Shodhana has many benefits, including infusing the body with oxygen, clearing and releasing toxins, reducing stress and anxiousness, calming and rejuvenating the nervous system, helping to balance hormones, supporting clear and balanced respiratory channels, alleviating respiratory irritants, balancing solar and lunar, masculine and feminine energies, fostering mental clarity and an alert mind, enhancing the ability to concentrate, and bringing balance to the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Nadi Shodhana is best practiced on an empty stomach, and the early morning is an ideal time. Practicing daily for 10-15 minutes offers even deeper benefits. When closing the practice, it is recommended to complete the final round of nadi shodhana with an exhalation through the left nostril, relax the right hand, and place it comfortably in the lap. Then, take several Full Yogic Breaths, allowing the breath to return to normal, and notice the state of mind. Quietly observe the effects of the practice, and then gently open the eyes, continuing to focus some of the awareness within.