Nadi – ‘channel’ or ‘flow’
Shodhana – ‘purification’
Alternate Nostril Breathing is a simple yet effective pranayama (breathing) practice. Soothing for the nervous system, alternate nostril breathing is said to help relieve stress and anxiety and lower the heart rate among other benefits. It is also helpful to practice before bedtime if you have difficulty getting to sleep.
If my head feels all over the place (often if I’ve been trying to do too many things at once!) I find this practice helpful to calm my mind. You can also practise *Mental Alternate Nostril breathing (i.e. not using your hands).
Usually this is practiced with breath retention, but you can choose to focus on just the inhales and exhales through each nostril instead.
How to practice Alternate Nostril Breathing (NB – the instructions below are without breath retention):
- Sit comfortably with a tall spine
- Rest your left hand comfortably on your left knee (as pictured) or lap
- Place your right index and middle fingers lightly between your eyebrows. You will be using your right thumb and right ring finger to open and close the nostrils.
- With eyes closed or gaze softened to one spot, take a deep breath in and out through both nostrils (you can take a few deep breaths here).
- Softly close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale slowly and steadily through your left nostril.
- Close your left nostril (with your right ring finger) and release closure of your right nostril. Exhale slowly and steadily through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril.
- Close your right nostril (with your right thumb) and release closure of your left. Exhale through your left nostril.
This completes 1 round. Repeat this for 5-10 rounds, focussing on your inhales and exhales. When you are finished. Rest both arms and breathe in and out normally for a few breaths.
*NB – I have a recorded a Mental Alternate Nostril Breathing audio to guide you through your practice, available here.