In nadi shodhanam, we breathe through one nostril and then the other, alternating sides in rounds. This breathing technique helps to calm, balance, and regulate both physical and subtle energies. Nadi shodhanam pranayama offers many benefits. It helps to balance and harmonize the body and mind, while deepening inner awareness. While practicing nadi shodhanam pranayama, you are breathing deeply and consciously. This practice is used to balance the 2 sides of the nervous system----the sympathetic that controls “fight or flight” and the parasympathetic that manages “rest and digest”----to regulate stress and relaxation.

Cup your nose with the thumb and the last 2 finders of your right hand. Place your thumb against your right nostril and your last 2 fingers against the left . Press your thumb to close the right nostril while relaxing the fingers to leave the left nostril open. Inhale through the left nostril for a 5-10 count, hold the breath for the same count, and then press your fingers to close the left nostril and exhale on the right side for the same count. Now do the same with the other side by keeping your fingers pressed on the left nostril, while relaxing your thumb to leave the right nostril open. Inhale through the right nostril for 5-10 counts, hold the breath for the same count and then press your thumb to close the right nostril and exhale on the left side for the same count.

Inhale left, hold, exhale right, inhale right, hold, exhale left. (One round) Repeat 5-20 rounds.

This ancient pranayama technique works with breath retention. Retaining the breath brings us back to the two most primitive aspects of the mind: desires and aversions. This breathing practice brings us back to the root of our desires: the craving for life itself and the root of our aversions----the fear of death. As we move through the practice, we notice this desire, and we soften, knowing that we are not drowning, choking, or dying. We are examining the mind at its core, watching what happens, and training our being to breath with more balance and intentionality.

The basic pranayama technique comprises of the following three parts:
  • Puraka means controlled inhalation
  • Kumbhaka means retention of breath
  • Rechaka means controlled exhalation
Pranayama Instructions

Start in a comfortable seated position. Allow the spine to be upright and the shoulders to be directly over the hips. Bring the awareness into the body and feel the movements of the breath within the body expanding and contracting. In this breathing exercise, the inhalation, the space between the inhale and exhale, and the exhalation are all of the same length. Start by lengthening your inhale and exhale to a count of 6 or 8. Continue to inhale and exhale like this for several rounds. As you settle into a pace of inhale and exhale, retain the breath after the inhale. The retention of the breath should be the same length as the inhale and the exhale.

Inhale and exhale for a count of 10 each. Repeat several times. Then inhale for a count of 10, hold the breath for a count of 10, and exhale slowly for a count of 10. Repeat 3-5 times and then come back to a moderately paced breath.

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