Sanga Yoga | Pranayama – Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing)
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Pranayama – Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing)

Dear woman, it’s time to breathe! ♡ In this practice, we’re teaching you Nadi Shodhana, which is also called alternate nostril breathing. This is a lovely practice for all women, and it’s a great way to infuse our body with lots of oxygen and it instantly calms our nervous system. Will you join us?

How to practice Nadi Shodhana

To start your practice, find a comfortable seat and be sure to sit up tall, with a straight spine. Before we start with the actual practice of Nadi Shodhana, we recommend doing a couple of rounds of yogic breath to arrive at your practice.

  1. Bring the pointer finger and middle finger of your right hand to your eyebrow center. Your left hand can rest on your left leg or in your lap.
  2. Take a few deep breaths here to feel your two fingers between your eyebrows.
  3. Use your thumb to close your right nostril and slowly breath in through your left nostril.
  4. At the top of your inhale, close your left nostril with you ring finger, and open the right nostril for your exhale.
  5. Inhale through the right nostril, close the right nostril, open the left nostril, and exhale through the left side.
  6. This is one round if Nadi Shodhana. Keep going for another ten rounds, or longer if you have the time. Make sure to always end a round by exhaling on the left side.

Why practice Nadi Shodhana

We LOVE Nadi Shodhana and we love including it in our home practice, simply because it has SO many benefits that you can experience right away.

  • Inhaling the good, exhaling the bad: because we take slow, deep breaths during Nadi Shodhana, we give our body the opportunity to fill itself up with lots of oxygen. The long, slow exhales allow us to release toxins that build up in our body.
  • Less stress + anxiety: Research has shown that Nadi Shodhana lowers our blood pressure, calms our nervous system and reduces stress and anxiety.
  • More focus, clarity and concentration: Because we focus all our attention to the practice of breathing, we start to feel more calm and focused and focused, and our ability to concentrate improves.
  • Energy-balancing: Alternating sides when we breath, allows us to balance the lunar and the solar, or the female and masculine energies. The left side of the body represents the female side, the lunar side, and the right is the masculine, the solar side. By alternating breathing through the left and right nostril, we actively work on balancing the two energies in our bodies.

Who can practice Nadi Shodhana?

Nadi Shodhana is a very safe practice (also for pregnant women or women who just had a baby). However, as with all practices of deep breathing, deeper emotions can come up during the practice. Please see below for a special note for those of you with a blocked nose.

What if my nose is blocked?

Although there’s usually one side of your nose more open than the other, it can be hard to practice Nadi Shodhana if your nose is completely blocked. We don’t recommend practicing this breathing technique if you have a cold and your nose is completely blocked. However, if only one side is slightly blocked, it can actually be very nice to practice Nadi Shodhana and it might actually open up your blocked nostril. If it feels uncomfortable though, it’s better to postpone the practice and try again at a different time.

Do I need props?

Nope :). Simply sit down on the floor, in your bed, on your yoga mat, a chair or stool, or a meditation pillow if you prefer using that.

Duration of the practice

We recommend starting with ten rounds of Nadi Shodhana. Once you get more experience with this type of pranayama, you can do more rounds, and make your breaths longer. You can, for example, inhale and exhale to a count of 5, 6, 7 or 8.

Variations to Nadi Shodhana

A popular variation to this basic version, is adding breath retention. This looks like this:

  1. Close your right nostril and slowly breath in through your left nostril.
  2. Close both nostrils and pause. Start with a short pause of just a second or two, and gradually build this up to 5, 6, 7 or 8.
  3. Open the right nostril for your exhale.
  4. Close both nostrils and pause again.
  5. Open the right nostril, inhale through the right nostril, close both nostrils and pause again.
  6. Open the left nostril, and exhale through the left side. Close both nostrils and pause.
  7. Continue this flow for 10 rounds.

Interesting resources

Immediate effect of specific nostril manipulating yoga breathing practices on autonomic and respiratory variables.

Blood pressure and Purdue pegboard scores in individuals with hypertension after alternate nostril breathing, breath awareness, and no intervention.

Alternate nostril breathing: a systematic review of clinical trials.