April 19, 2020

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama – Alternate Nostril Breathing

A breathing exercise? Nadi Shodhana what? Dominika, why would you want to write about something like that? Everybody knows how to breath. At least those alive. Obviously. 

Okay okay, hold on! It is true that everybody knows how to breathe, but do we really know how to breathe properly? How many times a day do you really focus on your breath and not cheat yourself on those shallow sad breaths, but use the full capacity of your lungs? 

Why Is It Important To Take Care Of How We Breathe? 

I was one of those who hated when people told me – breathe, Dominika! Everything is gonna get better, just slowly inhale and exhale… That would honestly make me even angrier/sadder/more frustrated. And it used to be very hard for me to give proper breathing a chance, sit quietly and pay attention to it! 

It changed after my yoga teacher training in India, where pranayama /breathing exercises as Nadi Shodhana/ was part of my every day for about two months.

There I realized how much influence it can have on our general well-being!

The main reason why I realized the importance of breathing is that we can use it as an instrument to calm our mind. 

I think we can all agree that it is very challenging to control our mind, right? So many things happening inside our head, not even talking about the things happening around us in the world! We can get easily overwhelmed and then it takes its’ toll on our everyday life.

As stated above – it is difficult to control our mind. But there is a shortcut! The good news is that we can control our breath. And through our breath – we can help to control our mind, too! 

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Pardon the illustration, might draw a better one soon! :))

In this post I will share a breathing exercise called Nadi Shodhana with you. 

Nadi = energy channel

Shodhana = purification

Therefore by practicing NS, we purify our energy channels. Some people refer to NS as to kriya.

Kriya = cleansing 

There are many, many nadis in our body. Three of them are the biggest – Ida, Pingala and Sushumna.

When we practice NS, we alternate between breathing through our left and right nostril. Therefore we are cleansing our Ida and Pingala nadis! 

Sushumna is the central main nadi. On the bottom by our root chakra there lays dormant kundalini serpent. Until we awaken the kundalini and get enlightened, but that is for another post, eh…. 

Ida is the nadi which starts on our left side by the root chakra and ends in our left nostril. It stimulates the right brain hemisphere.

Pingala is the nadi starting by our right side of root chakra and ends in out right nostril, stimulating the left side of our brain.

If you are not into this spiritual/energy world, it is completely alright! As NS helps us to balance our left and right brain hemispheres. And if even this doesn’t do the trick for you, well, then just give it a go. For me it is a great mental tool to get centered and grounded by pushing everything away from my head and just focusing on the alternate breathing. 

Okay, How Does It Help Me?

As I said – it does help you to get centered and grounded. Therefore this exercise is awesome when you get stressed or anxious! Job interview? School exams? Working on your driving license? Having an important talk with your loved one, or are you just getting super awkward before your first date? Worry not, it helps to reduce stress and ease the thought flow. Also – you are automatically more attractive with some fresh oxygen flowing through your brain – dating pro tips. You’re welcome. 

How Can I Do This Magic?

You can follow more detailed explanation in the video, but the basic theory is – 

 

Left hand is in GYAN mudra resting on our left knee – join the surface of your thumb and index finger together, the rest of fingers straight and relaxed.

Right hand either in VISHNU mudra – index and middle finger curled up in the palm, leaving the thumb free to block our right nostril, and the ring finger to block the left nostril. Pinkie finger is free and relaxed. Lucky wee one!

Another option for our right hand is NASAGRA mudra  – if you are like me and your fingers are little bit odd and Vishnu mudra doesn’t do the trick, you may rest your index and middle finger on the forehead in between your eyebrows. 

It is good to take a couple of deep, conscious breaths through both nostrils. Then exhale, block the right nostril, inhale through the left. Block the left nostril with your ring finger, release the right nostril and exhale. Now keep the fingers as they are and inhale through right, afterwards block the right nostril with thumb, release the left nostril and exhale through left. That is ONE round. Take it easy, inhale slowly, exhale slowly, perhaps keep your exhalations bit longer than inhalations. 

This is the most basic version of this technique. More advanced practitioners include inner and outer retentions of breath and implement counts in different ratios.

Please always remember not to force yourself into uncomfortable practices and never strain the breath! Be gentle to yourself. 

I hope you found this article at least a little helpful and feel free to comment, if you feel any benefits or if you have questions! 😀

Thank you so much for your time and effort!

Take care of yourself, 

Dominika

If you are struggling with keeping your motivation, I wrote a post about how the No-Zero-Days philosophy changed the way I see my days! Read it HERE.

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