Are you feeling nostalgic for 2019 or some other year gone by? That’s understandable.
But even when life was what we used to think of as “normal,” there were tons of stressors bearing down on us that are easy to forget about.
Even before all the weirdness of 2020, we had the constant overstimulation of advertising and media, the intense pressure of making ends meet, the mindless buzz of consumerism, and don’t even get me started on all the ambient pollution and unhealthy food all over the place.
But now it feels like things are totally out of whack. We have a global pandemic, a ferocious and – let’s face it – mean-spirited political landscape worldwide, and… we can’t even touch each other like we used to.
I spoke to a friend yesterday who said she was “hug starved.”
Everyone is stressed out, it seems. We’re all walking around with butterflies in our stomachs. This is no way to live.
Everyone deserves peace. The more people who experience peace, the more peace there is for all of us. Makes sense, right?
So today I want to offer a simple breathing practice that’s easy to do. It will calm your heart and quiet your mind.
This practice is called Nadi Shodhanam, or alternate nostril breathing.
Nadi Shodhanam delivers a sense of peace immediately. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Studies indicate that, over time, it can improve cardiovascular and lung function and lower your heart rate. This in turn reduces your stress, which we know is good for overall physical and mental health. There is also strong evidence that alternate nostril breathing improves brain function.
The Sanskrit meaning of Nadi Shodahnam is “energy channel cleansing (or purification).” It has a long history in yoga and ayurvedic medicine as a reliable way to achieve mental, physical, and emotional balance.
For me, it’s a go-to when I’m stressed.
And it’s safe for just about anyone.
Unless you have a serious cardiovascular condition like COPD or asthma, you can do it right now with no fear. (And if you do have a condition, it’s probably still safe, but ask your doctor first.)
What have you got to lose? Try it now if you haven’t yet. Here’s how to do it:
Nadi Shodhanam (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
- Find a comfortable chair, floor cushion, or mat. Sit up straight as you can, but don’t strain. This is not a yoga pose.
- Let your left hand rest gently in your lap. Bring your right hand up to your face.
- Place the index and middle fingers of your raised hand lightly against the space between your eyebrows.
- Close your eyes.
- Take a nice, long, easy deep breath through your nose – inhale then exhale.
- Close your right nostril with your thumb, and then inhale slowly through your left nostril.
- At the top of your in-breath, close your left nostril with your ring finger, so that both of your nostrils are closed.
- Pause for a moment.
- Release your thumb from your right nostril and exhale (keep your left nostril closed).
- Pause again for a moment.
- Now reverse the process. Breathe in slowly and steadily through your right nostril. At the top of the in-breath, close up both nostrils again, pause, and then release your out-breath through your left nostril.
- Pause again. Repeat the breathing process, alternating nostrils. Do this several times, slowly and mindfully.
Well? What do you think? If you did this practice even for just a few minutes, you probably feel more relaxed.
Am I right?
Take a few minutes and try this whenever you need to calm your mind, and then share it with friends. Better yet, share it with enemies (or people you disagree with)!
Host of Proven: Healing Breakthroughs Backed By Science
& Founder of The Sacred Science