Alternate Nostril Breathing - Nadi Sodhan - This simple pranayama is a basic yogic breath practice. Consciously alternating your breath between either nostril allows you to activate and access your whole brain. Engaging both hemispheres of the brain affects the glandular system and mood. The left nostril is associated with the Ida Nadi and Right Hemisphere of the brain. Breathing through the left nostril is known to be calming, cooling, relaxing and associated with lunar energy. The cool silvery moon. The right nostril is associated with the Pingala Nadi and Left Hemisphere of the brain. Breathing through the right nostril is known to be stimulating, energizing, warming, and associated with solar energy. The fiery light of the sun.
Description: Sit with an extended spine, in Easy Pose or in a chair. Hold the left hand in Gyan mudra (pads of the thumb and index finger touching). Exhale fully and then close the right nostril by gently pressing the side of the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand (other fingers point straight up). Inhale through the left nostril. Close the left nostril using either the index or ring finger of the right hand. Open the right nostril and exhale. Inhale through the right nostril. Close the right nostril using the thumb of the right hand. Open the left nostril and exhale. This is one cycle of alternate nostril breathing. Eyes: Closed Time: If not being used as part of a structured meditation, continue as long as comfortable. End: On an exhale, then resume regular, comfortable breathing.
Revitalizes you: A few rounds of alternate nostril breathing is a quick pick me up if you are feeling flat, tired or even stressed. It provides your body with a much needed dose of extra energy. Improves brain function: Alternate nostril breathing brings equal amounts of oxygen to both sides of the brain for improved brain function. Five minutes of alternate nostril breathing before an exam or interview is a great way to access your whole brain for improved performance. Cleanses your lungs: A daily five minute practice morning and night of alternate nostril breathing is great way to remove stale air and impurities from the bottom of your lungs. 70% of our body's waste products are eliminated via our lungs. Calms an agitated mind: If you are prone to worrying. A few minutes of focused alternate nostril breathing is helpfulin calming an "over thinking" mind. The ancient yogis believed that if you can regulate your breath, you can control your mind. Merges the left "thinking" brain with the right "feeling brain: Alternate nostril breathing optimizes both sides of your brain so you can access your whole brain and the benefits that go with it. Single nostril breathing can be used to activate, just the left"thinking" or just right "feeling" side of your brain for specific situations. Encourages a calmer emotional state: In times of emotional distress and upset, a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing will soften the intensity of over reactive emotional states. The longer you practice, the more stable your thinking, and the calmer your emotions will become. Improves sleep: If you can't sleep at night, lay on your right hand side, gently close your right nostril with your right thumb and breath through your left nostril. This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system which will calm you down and slow your heart rate. Great preparation for meditation: Alternate nostril breathing is a simple little trick that can be practiced for a few minutes before you begin your meditation practice. It's a very easy way to help you find your meditation groove. Soothes your nervous system: By focusing on your breath and deepening it, your brain will register this message and trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. You have effectively switched your nervous system from a stressed response, into a relaxation response. Single left nostril breathing (by closing your right nostril) will direct the flow of oxygen and energy to the right hemisphere of your brain, allowing once again, for the parasympathetic nervous system to be switched on. Regulates the cooling and warming cycles of the body: Left nostril is feminine, nurturing, calm and cooling. Right nostril is masculine, heat, competitive and forceful. Favoring one nostril more than the other can effect the heat or coolness of your body. Clears and boosts your energy channels: Slightly forced alternate nostril breathing improves and directs the flow of energy throughout your body. It oxygenates your blood and allows the energy (prana) in your body to be strong and flowing. Enhances rest and relaxation: A restless mind cannot relax. Alternate nostril breathing melts away any imbalances between the right and left hemisphere of your brain and calms your thinking. This is perfect for helping you access rest and relaxation far more efficiently.
*Another interesting fact about your nostrils is that you don't breathe through them equally all the time. Right now, you will be favoring either your left nostril or your right nostril.
Left nostril for calming – right nostril for energy: Your nose is directly linked to your brain and nervous system. Inhaling through your left nostril only, will access the right "feeling" hemisphere of your brain, and Inhaling through your right nostril only, will access the left "thinking" hemisphere of your brain.
Note: Don't practice this pranayama if you are experience sinus headaches, nasal congestion or other sinus related issues. Instead practice a more gentle pranayama such as Long Deep Breathing, or rest in Savasana.
Related Pages: Locks and Breathing