Nadi Shodhana, also called the Channel Purifying breath, is an alternate nostril breath that gets its name from the impact on the energy channels in the body. Nadi Shodhana is a breathing technique used to draw the senses inward leading to deep introspection.
In addition to introspection, Nadi Shodhana has the following benefits:
- Calms the mind
- Releases tension in the chest and abdominal regions
- Facilitates complete exchange of air in the lungs and therefore the blood
- Calms the energy in the body
You’ll want to avoid this practice if you have a respiratory infection, cold or sinus irritation. Otherwise this is a great any time exercise.
When you’re ready:
- Sit comfortably, spine elongated and shoulders relaxed
- Center your mind and bring your awareness to your body by beginning with Dirgha and Ujjayi breathing for a few minutes
- Bring your right hand to the Vishnu Mudra
- Close off your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand and inhale fully through your left nostril
- At the end of the inhale, release the right nostril, close off the left nostril and exhale
- Inhale fully through the right nostril, switch nostrils after the inhale and exhale
- Repeat this alternating nostril breathing changing nostrils after each inhale
- As your breathing continues, you might notice it deepen and slow; just let it happen naturally
- To exit this breathing practice, end on an exhale through the left nostril
- Slowly let the right hand come to the right knee
- Sit quietly and feel the effects
Some options to explore as you deepen your practice:
- Layer in Dirgha breathing
- Layer in Ujjayi breathing
- To help quiet the wandering (monkey) mind, you can count your breaths
- Sit for slightly longer periods of time after to fully absorb the impact of this breathing
This is not a breathing exercise to jump straight into. As it encourages an inward focus, introspection and self-study, this breathing can sometimes dredge up emotions or other “stuff” that may be hanging around inside.
I like to allow some time after the practice to integrate and work through anything that may come up. If I don’t need it then I get a nice long transition back into the world at large. If I do dig out something I want to deal with, then I have the time and I don’t have to worry about rushing or leave it hovering.
If you’ve been working on the Ujjayi and Dirgha breathing and feel comfortable, set aside some time and experiment with this technique. And as always, if it doesn’t feel right, come out of the breath and move to one that is more comfortable until you feel ready.