Today we’re going to embark on a journey into India – to learn a powerful breathing practice called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama that’s easy to do. It will calm your heart and quiet your mind…
The technique is called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, or alternate nostril breathing. In Sanskrit, the word “Nadi” means channel or flow, the word “Shodhana” means clarifying or purifying, and “Pranayama” means to take control of one’s breath.
During this practice, you’ll experience a sense of peace almost immediately. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Studies indicate that, over time, it can improve cardiovascular health and lung function, as it balances 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.
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama 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? Here’s how to do it:
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
- Find a comfortable chair, floor cushion, or mat. Sit up as 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.
Here is an illustration with the basic positions:
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 Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness
& Founder of The Sacred Science