Alternate Nostril Pranayama (Breathing) to Bring Harmony and Center Your Mind
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
Origin: Nadi means “subtle energy channel”, and shodhana means “cleansing”.
The Nadi Shodhana pranayama cleanses your energy channels and clears any blockages within you. Unlike Breath of Fire or Lion Breath pranayamas which heat up the body, Nadi Shodhana has a cooling effect. Its most noticeable effect is on the mind. You will notice your mind gains more clarity, peace, and awareness in the present moment as each breath moves through you and clears your blockages.
Ancient yogic texts state that the right nostril (also known as the “sun nostril”) controls our energy levels, while the left nostril (lunar nostril) controls our emotions. So, if you’re feeling tired or fatigued, breathing in through your right nostril will help increase your energy levels. If you are feeling overwhelmed, breathing in through your left nostril will help bring calm to any emotions you are experiencing (anger, sadness, fear, anxiety etc.). Breathing through alternate nostrils for just 3-5mins can help restore and revitalize your immune system.
Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing
- Induces calm and relaxation
- Increases ability to manage negativity
- Helps purify your nadis (subtle energy channels) to create a smooth flow of prana (life energy) through your body
- Releases accumulated stress, tension, and fatigue in the body and mind
- Helps harmonize the left and right brain to bring balance and grounding to the logical and emotional brains
How to do Alternate Nostril Breathing Pranayama
- Sit with a straight spine, either on a chair or on the floor, whichever is most comfortable for you. Relax.
- Have your left hand in Gyan Mudra.
- Take the thumb and index finger of your right hand and make a “U” shape. Place this around your nose. Your thumb should sit next to your right nostril, and your index finger should be next to your left nostril.
- Now, close your right nostril with your index finger and inhale through your left nostril. Breathe in deep into your abdomen (if you’re unsure how to do this, see the Long Deep Breathing pranayama exercise).
- Next, release your index finger, and close your left nostril with your thumb. Exhale fully through your right nostril.
- Repeat this alternating cycle of breathing in through your right nostril and exhaling through your left nostril. Try to do this for 3-5 minutes.
- To end the Alternate Nostril Breathing pranayama, take a deep inhale. Hold your breath for a few seconds. Lower your hand so both nostrils are open, then exhale.
See also: Breath of Fire (Breathing) to Kickstart Your Day and Increase Energy