Nadi Shodana Pranayama - Alternate Nostril Breathing
How This Helps
- Nadi Shodana or Alternate Nostril breathing is an excellent way to calm down the body, quiet the nervous system, and balance the energies of the right and left side of the body. Diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, can be caused by stress. Indeed, stress can trigger the slow-down and poor activity of different functions of the body – thus making breath exercises that combat stress good for the start of any yoga practice. By practicing this exercise, one can lessen the root cause of diabetes, which is mental and physical stress.
- The term Nadi Shodana can be translated as “clearing the channels of circulation.” Prana means vital energy, breath, and life force.
- Pranayama is harnessing this breath and life force for the ease and clarity of our minds. As you do this, try not to hold your breath at any time. You’ll notice as you practice that one side of the nose is easier to breathe through than the other. Take note of this. This pranayama isn’t advisable during times when you have a cold. If you get light-headed or dizzy, stop, and just try again another day.
- 1. You can sit on a chair with your back upright, or you can sit on the floor.
2. Begin by first breathing in and out slowly and calmly, preparing for Nadi Shodana. You can count the beats of your inhale and the beats of your exhales. Once you feel they are even and steady, then you can begin the practice of Nadi Shodana.
- 3. Bring your right hand by your face. Bring your thumb to lightly touch your right nostril. Bring your ring finger to lightly touch your left nostril Bring the two middle fingers to touch the middle of your eyebrows.
- 4. Close your right nostril with your right thumb.
- 5. Inhale through the left nostril
- 6. Open the right nostril, close the left. Exhale through the right nostril.
- 7. Inhale through the right nostril.
8. Open the left nostril, close the right. Exhale through the left nostril.
9. Inhale through the left nostril once again, repeating the pattern. Continue on doing this alternating the breath and keeping the breath even.
10. Repeat for up to 10 cycles or even more. End on an exhale with the left nostril.
Science and Research
- In the yogic tradition and in the Ayurveda system, nadis are seen as channels through which physical and subtle energy flow from the root to the crown. Thus clearing them through Nadi Shodana helps you release imbalances in the mind and body and encourages the flow of new energy. Aside from this, this pranayama has all the benefits of a regular breath practice which is a calmer demeanor physically and mentally, lowered heart rate, and a nervous system that can more easily stay in the “rest and digest” mode.
Alternate nostril breathing health benefits
By selecting which nostril you use to inhale, you can make yourself more relaxed (left nostril) or more energized (right nostril).
Alternate nostril breathing is all about bringing these two opposites into equilibrium. By gradually and consciously breathing through each nostril for an equal quantity of time, we make sure to excite the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in equivalent amounts. Let us take a look at the benefits and the advantages of alternate nostril breathing:
- Improve respiratory health
When practicing this technique, we use slow, deep breathing and get the complete capacity of the lungs. Consequently, the advantages of Nadi Shuddhi to your lungs and respiratory system are amazing (as with most pranayama techniques). Pulse rates have been shown to reduce significantly following only a couple of weeks of daily Nadi Shuddhi practice.
The longer-term effect has also been demonstrated to enhance numerous pulmonary health markers in young professionals.
Some yogis refer to some other advantage as"eliminating stale air" from the lungs.
- Improve cardiovascular health
The slow breathing technique used in Nadi Shuddhi was shown to decrease the systolic and diastolic blood pressure of professionals immediately after one semester. This is a consequence of activating the parasympathetic nervous system, causing the blood vessels to relax and widen.
- Reduce stress and anxiety
Balancing the action between your left and right nostrils with Nadi Shuddhi brings your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems into balance. For those people with anxiety, this is very good news because it is going to soften our overactive stress response and let us respond to stimuli in a far more balanced manner. And studies have shown Nadi Shuddhi to have an instantaneous effect on parasympathetic markers so that you can benefit from the clinic in no more than one session!
- Reduce worry
In a Nadi Shuddhi clinic, we attempt to keep our focus on the breath. By always bringing our wandering minds from the past/future and back to the present in this manner, we reinforce the neural networks which prevent rumination. This is a powerful element of pranayama practices as consciousness is always directed back to the flow of the breath.
- Power spiritual experiences
I don't have any scientific studies for this one I'm afraid folks. But if you are on a spiritual path, then Nadi Shuddhi is a valuable tool to have in your kit. After we have strong, supple bodies from practicing asanas, we could remain seated long enough to practice pranayama without difficulty. Then, using a slow, deep breathing routine established through pranayama, we could sit and breathe deeply in a seated posture whilst we work on our meditation. Now the magic begins to happen. In the yogic talk, Nadi Shuddhi is thought to balance the main left and right nadis (energy channels), inducing prana to flow through the central energy channel rather, called the Sushumna. When prana flows in Sushumna, energy can be drawn up, and the practitioner may experience powerful, mystical states during meditation.
- Prepare for advanced pranayama
All of us have slightly odd breathing patterns from years of stress, poor posture, and exposure to atmospheric contamination. This can manifest in several different ways: shortness of breath, stomach breathing, and unequal inhale/exhale, just to mention a few. Pranayama techniques such as Nadi Shuddhi help to fix those breathing habits, which makes the breath long, smooth, and more efficient. Then it's possible to incorporate more advanced pranayama methods, like kumbhakas (breath retentions), into our clinic. Note: it is important to begin using Nadi Shuddhi and to not jump into advanced pranayama; otherwise, you might wind up aggravating your nervous system. Why should we care about advanced pranayama methods? The inclusion of kumbhakas into your Nadi Shuddhi clinic (this more advanced version is truly called Nadi Shodhana) will create your breath so long, smooth, and steady that meditation begins to occur more naturally.
- Prepare for yogic meditation
Yogic meditation is challenging in case you have an irregular breathing pattern. It is like trying to sit down to meditate with an agitated toddler tugging at your sleeve! Nadi Shuddhi is the best practice to slow down your breath that yogic meditation becomes reachable. I will certainly explain more about the sort of meditation I'm referring to in another article, but suffice to say: the sooner you start your Nadi Shuddhi practice, the easier meditation will get.