Yogic Breathing: How to do Nadi Shodhana

Nadi Shodhana, also known as alternate nostril breathing, is a powerful yogic breathing technique that helps balance the energy in our body. This ancient practice has been used for centuries to calm the mind, reduce stress, activate the autonomic nervous system, and enhance overall well-being. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or just starting your yoga journey, learning how to do nadi shodhana can bring numerous benefits to your practice. In this guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of this technique, its benefits, and how to incorporate it into your daily routine. Get ready to experience the transformative power of yogic breathing with nadi shodhana.

Benefits of Practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing

Nadi Shodhana, also known as alternate nostril breathing, is a pranayama technique that offers a multitude of benefits for both the body and mind. By practicing nadi shodhana regularly, you can experience:

  1. Stress Reduction: Nadi Shodhana helps calm the nervous system, promoting a sense of relaxation and reducing stress levels. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with anxiety or high levels of daily stress.
  2. Improved Respiratory Function: This pranayama technique enhances lung capacity and strengthens the respiratory system by allowing you to cycle through full inhalation and exhalation. By consciously regulating the breath, nadi shodhana helps to increase oxygen intake and release toxins from the body.
  3. Enhanced Mental Clarity: Nadi shodhana is known to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain, promoting improved cognitive function and mental clarity. This can lead to increased focus, concentration, and overall mental well-being. It is a good breathing technique to practice before meditation like kriya.
  4. Emotional Balance: By harmonizing the flow of energy in the body, nadi shodhana helps to balance emotions and cultivate a sense of inner peace. It can be particularly helpful in managing mood swings and emotional imbalances.
  5. Improved Sleep Quality: Regular practice of nadi shodhana before bedtime can help calm the mind, release tension, and promote better sleep. It can be a valuable tool for individuals struggling with types of insomnia or sleep disturbances.
  6. Detoxification: Much like ujjayi breathing, nadi shodhana aids in the removal of toxins from the body, promoting overall detoxification and purification to aid the body in healing.

Incorporating nadi shodhana into your daily routine can bring about a profound sense of well-being and balance. Whether you’re seeking physical, mental, or emotional benefits, this pranayama technique offers a holistic approach to enhancing your overall health and vitality.

Contraindications for Practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing

While nadi shodhana is generally safe for most individuals, there are a few contraindications to be aware of. It is important to exercise caution or avoid practicing nadi shodhana if you:

  1. Have a severe or chronic respiratory condition: If you have a respiratory condition such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or any other respiratory disorder, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before practicing nadi shodhana.
  2. Are experiencing a cold or nasal congestion: Nadi Shodhana involves breathing through the nostrils, so if you have a cold, sinusitis, or nasal congestion, it is best to avoid this practice until your nasal passages are clear.
  3. Have recently undergone nasal surgery: If you have had any recent nasal surgery or have any nasal abnormalities, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before attempting nadi shodhana.
  4. Are pregnant: While nadi shodhana is generally safe during pregnancy, it is recommended to consult with a qualified prenatal yoga instructor or healthcare provider before practicing pranayama techniques.
  5. Feel dizzy or lightheaded during the practice: If you experience dizziness, lightheadedness, or any other discomfort while practicing nadi shodhana, it is advisable to stop and consult with a healthcare professional.

Remember, it is always important to listen to your body and practice pranayama techniques under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.

To practice Nadi Shodhana, follow these step-by-step instructions

  1. Find a comfortable seated position: Sit in a cross-legged position on a yoga mat or a cushion, ensuring that your spine is upright and your body is relaxed. You can also sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground if that is more comfortable for you.
  2. Relax your body: Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax your body and mind. Let your tongue relax in your mouth. Allow any tension or stress to melt away as you prepare for the practice.
  3. Bring your right hand into Vishnu Mudra: Curl your index and middle fingers toward your palm, leaving your thumb, ring finger, and pinky finger extended. Rest your hand on your right knee, keeping your palm facing upward.
  4. Close your right nostril: Use your right thumb to gently close your right nostril. Take a deep breath in through your left nostril, filling your lungs with air.
  5. Alternate nostrils: Release your right nostril and use your right ring finger or pinky finger to gently close your left nostril. Exhale slowly and completely through your right nostril.
  6. Inhale through your right nostril: Keeping your left nostril closed, inhale slowly and deeply through your right nostril. Fill your lungs with air, expanding your abdomen and chest.
  7. Close your right nostril: Release your left nostril and use your right thumb to gently close your right nostril. Hold your breath briefly, retaining the breath for a few seconds.
  8. Exhale through your left nostril: Release your right nostril and exhale slowly and completely through your left nostril. Empty your lungs completely, allowing any stale air to be released.
  9. Repeat the process: Inhale through your left nostril, close the left nostril, exhale through the right nostril, and then inhale through the right nostril. Continue this alternating pattern for several rounds, maintaining a smooth and steady breath.
  10. Conclude the practice: After completing the desired number of rounds, gently release your hand from Vishnu Mudra and allow your breath to return to its natural rhythm. Take a moment to observe the effects of the practice on your body and mind.

Remember, it is important to start with a few rounds and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable with the practice. If you feel any discomfort or dizziness, pause the practice and resume normal breathing.

Watch this instructional nadi shodhana video with Kino MacGregor to find out more about how to do alternate nostril breathing.

What should I keep in mind while doing yogic breathing?

Yogic breathing, also known as pranayama, is an essential aspect of any yoga mental, and emotional well-being. While practicing yogic breathing, there are a few key things to keep in mind to ensure a safe and effective experience. Here are some guidelines to follow:

1. Relaxation: Before you begin your yogic breathing practice, find a quiet and comfortable space where you can relax. It’s important to be in a calm state of mind and body to fully benefit from the practice.

2. Posture: Sit in a comfortable and upright position, such as cross-legged on the floor or on a chair with your spine straight. This helps in maintaining good posture and allows for optimal breath flow.

3. Nasal breathing: In yogic breathing, it is generally advised to breathe in and out through the nose. Nasal breathing filters and warms the air, aids in relaxation, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calm.

4. Diaphragmatic breathing: Focus on breathing into your abdomen rather than shallow chest breathing. Place your hands on your belly and feel it rise and fall with each breath. This type of breathing, also known as diaphragmatic or belly breathing, helps to fully oxygenate the body and aids in relaxation.

5. Slow and steady: Practice slow, controlled breaths rather than rapid or forced breathing. Aim for a smooth and rhythmic breath, with a consistent and even flow. This helps to calm the mind and relax the body.

6. Mindfulness: As you practice yogic breathing, bring your awareness to your breath. Notice the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves your body. Stay present in the moment and let go of any distracting thoughts or worries.

7. Gradual progression: Start with shorter durations and gradually increase the length of your practice over time. It’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. Allow yourself to build strength and endurance gradually.

8. Consistency: To fully benefit from yogic breathing, it is important to practice regularly. Aim for a daily practice, even if it’s just a few minutes each day. Consistency is key in reaping the rewards of pranayama.

9. Seek guidance: If you are new to yogic breathing or have any health concerns, it’s always a good idea to seek guidance from a qualified yoga teacher or practitioner. They can provide personalized instructions and ensure that you are practicing in a safe and effective manner.

Remember, yogic breathing is a powerful tool for calming the mind, reducing stress, and enhancing overall well-being. By keeping these guidelines in mind and practicing regularly, you can experience the transformative benefits of pranayama in your yoga practice and in your daily life. Happy breathing!

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Photo by Ivan Samkov: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-man-and-a-woman-doing-yoga-6648543/