Alternate Nostril Breathing Therapy
(Nadi Shodhan Pranayama)
(nadi = subtle energy channel; shodhan = cleaning, purification; pranayama = breathing technique)
This therapy purifies the nadis (energy channels in the astral body) of all impurities. Once one’s nadis are purified, the energy can freely flow through the spinal column.
It balances the chakras, and calms the mind. It oxygenates the blood, and effectively brings oxygen to the deep tissues and organs thereby effectively removing toxins that cause disease and pain.
“The mind and breath are interconnected. A steady breath means a calm mind and a calm mind helps steady the breath. Therefore one must learn control over the breath. When impurities are present in the nadis (energy channels in the astral body), it is impossible for the breath to flow through the sushumna (the most important nadi in the astral body, which corresponds to the spinal canal in the physical body).
The disorders of pawan (air element/breath) cause hiccups, asthma, cough, headaches, earaches, pain in eyes etc. Hence one should pay careful attention when inhaling and exhaling. The body of a person whose nadis are pure will be lean and glowing. Purification of nadis leads to good health.”
How to Do Alternate Nostril Breathing Therapy
(Nadi Shodhan Pranayama)
- Sit comfortably with your spine erect and shoulders relaxed. Keep a gentle smile on your face.
- Place your left hand on the left knee, palms open to the sky or in Chin Mudra (thumb and index finger gently touching at the tips).
- Place the tip of the index finger and middle finger of the right hand in between the eyebrows, the ring finger and little finger on the left nostril, and the thumb on the right nostril. We will use the ring finger and little finger to open or close the left nostril and thumb for the right nostril.
- Press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril.
- Now breathe in from the left nostril and then press the left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger. Removing the right thumb from the right nostril, breathe out from the right.
- Breathe in from the right nostril and exhale from the left. You have now completed one round of Nadi Shodhan pranayama. Continue inhaling and exhaling from alternate nostrils.
- Complete 9 such rounds by alternately breathing through both the nostrils. After every exhalation, remember to breathe in from the same nostril from which you exhaled. Keep your eyes closed throughout and continue taking long, deep, smooth breaths without any force or effort. Nadi Shodhan pranayama helps relax the mind and prepares it to enter a meditative state. So it is a good idea to do a short meditation after doing Nadi Shodhan. Some others practice this breathing technique as part of the Padma Sadhana sequence.
Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing
- Proper supply of oxygen is ensured and carbon dioxide is effectively removed.
- More oxygen is made available per breath, making the breathing most efficient.
- Blood is purified of toxins.
- Very effective for stress management.
- Helps reducing the anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. Also it reduces hyperactive disorders related to mind.
- Balancing Ida and Pingala removes all the blockages in the pranic energy channels, which may lead to spiritual awakenings.
- It gives all the benefits of Deep breathing as well.
- If you feel little bit of discomfort then you can reduce the ratio of breathing.
- Under No circumstances the proportion of the breathing should be forced.
- People who have undergone abdominal surgeries, heart surgeries, brain surgeries should consult the medical expert or consultant.
- Please do not rush to increase the proportions, as it will not help, but trying to practice easy ratio (4:6 seconds) for little more time may help.
- Initially one should start slowly by inhalation in 3 sec and exhalation in 3 sec. Slowly you an increase it to 4 : 4 sec then 3 : 6 sec and then 4 : 8 sec. The practice can be up to 5 minutes initially but slowly one can increase it to 15 minutes safely.