Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is an ancient breathing technique practiced by yogis for centuries. It is believed to help balance our energy, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being. In this beginner’s guide, we will explore What is Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, the benefits of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama and how to unlock its potential.
Through a combination of breath control and focused concentration, you will learn how to use this practice to nourish your body, mind, and spirit. You will also gain a deeper understanding of how this breathing technique helps restore balance and harmony within your body. So, if you are looking for a way to reduce stress, improve your physical and mental health, or simply gain greater insight into the power of pranayama, then this guide is for you.
What is Nadi Shodhana Pranayama?
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is known by different names like Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama or Alternate Nostril breathing, but it serves one significant purpose of clearing all the blockages of subtle energy channels in the body. It is an ancient yogic breathing technique used to cleanse all the 72000 energy channels through which the vital life force flows in the body. It also purifies your energy and calms the mind. It is highly regarded as one of the most powerful breathing techniques in the yoga tradition and is believed to bring a sense of calm and improve physical and mental well-being.
Many people do not know this, but pranayama is a combination of two words. Prana means “life force,” and Ayama represents “expansion.” Because of this, pranayama is a practice designed to enhance, expand, or control the life force that flows through your body. Nadi represents the “energy channels that carry prana or the vital life force.” Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is an effective way to bring about this desired effect.
Benefits of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
Nadi shodhana pranayama is a powerful pranayama practice that can yield several health benefits. It is believed to enhance physical and mental well-being, reduce stress and anxiety, improve overall health and immune function, and strengthen your connection to the divine.
- Nadi shodhana pranayama helps to increase the flow of prana, i.e., the vital life energy, by removing all the blockages from all the energy channels.
- Nadi shodhana pranayama can help to improve your circulation and blood flow. This is particularly true for blood flow in the head and neck region, which is the area of the body most prone to poor circulation.
- Nadi shodhana pranayama helps to resolve many physical diseases that may be because of poor blood circulation, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalance, etc.
- Nadi shodhana pranayama helps to resolve the problem of insomnia and promotes restful sleep.
- Nadi shodhana pranayama relaxes and rejuvenates the entire nervous system.
- Regular practice of Nadi shodhana pranayama helps to regulate hormonal balance.
- Nadi Shodhana Pranayama brings balance to the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
- The best pranayama to balance the ida, pingala, and suhmna nadis is believed to be Nadi Shodhana Pranayama which balances solar and lunar energies.
- Nadi shodhana pranayama also positively affects your mental health. It is particularly effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and feelings of depression.
- Furthermore, regular practice of Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama can help improve your focus and concentration levels.
- Nadi Shodhana Pranayama helps the brain process positive thoughts while neglecting negative thought patterns.
- Finally, this pranayama practice is also believed to affect your spiritual well-being positively. Specifically, it can deepen your connection to the divine and help you experience inner peace and tranquility.
How to Practice Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
There are two variations of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama or Alternate nostril breathing. The first variation of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is called Anulom-vilom Pranayama, which involves conscious inhalation through one nostril and exhalation through the other. The second variation of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama includes one step more to Anulom Vilom Pranayam, which is Breath Retention (Antar kumbhaka).
Variation 1 (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama for introduction to beginners)
- Choose a comfortable sitting position in an asana, such as Sukhasana or Padmasana, or sit in a chair with your feet on the floor. Remember to keep your spine erect and shoulders relaxed.
- Gently close your eyes and fold the tips of the index and middle fingers inward to the base of your thumb to form Vishnu Mudra with the right hand so that the thumb will control the right nostril and the ring finger and little finger will control the left nostril.
- Place your left hand on the left knee, and form Chin Mudra by gently joining the tips of the thumb and index finger.
- Take a full, deep inhalation followed by a slow, gentle exhalation to connect with your breath.
- Now, with the right thumb, gently close your right nostril and exhale completely through the left nostril. Keeping the right nostril closed, inhale deeply through your left nostril and close it with your ring finger and little finger. Lift your thumb from the right nostril and exhale completely.
- To put it simply, breathe out from the left, and then breathe in from the left nostril and breathe out through the right. Then do it alternatively by breathing in from the right nostril and out through the left nostril.
- Finish the cycle by exhaling through the left nostril, lower your right hand, and slowly open your eyes.
- This completes one cycle of nadi shodhana pranayama. Continue this process of inhalation and exhalation from alternate nostrils. Practice atleast nine rounds in a single sitting. You may practice 2-3 sitting a day.
- Also, try to increase the number of inhalations and exhalations with regular practice.
Variation 2 (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama for advanced practitioners)
If you have already practiced the introductory version of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama and are well-versed in inhalation and exhalation. In that case, you should practice it with breath retention and the exact steps mentioned above.
For this variation of Nadi Shuddhi, hold each inhale for a few seconds and then exhale through the opposite nostril. Keep the ratio of 1:1:1 for each inhalation, retention, and exhalation, respectively. Gradually increase the duration of breath retention to 2 times of inhalation, i.e., to keep the ratio to 1:2:1 for each inhalation, retention, and exhalation, respectively, as you become more accustomed to the practice.
Contradictions for Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
It is safe for most people to practice Nadi shodhana pranayama
However, anyone with lung or heart issue or blood pressure patients should not practice it with breath retention.
Also, you should stop the practice immediately if you feel any adverse effects like shortness of breath, dizziness, or nausea while performing the pranayama.
Understanding the anatomy of breath
There are two main components of the practice of Nadi shodhana pranayama.
First, you will be focusing on the breath flow in your nostrils. Then, you will move on to the flow of breath within your central nadi (energy channels). Here, it’s helpful to understand a little bit of the anatomy of our breath.
(1) – The Flow of Breath Through the Nostrils – The first step in practice is observing the breath flow through your nostrils. This can be helpful for beginners by providing a focal point for their attention. It can also be beneficial for more advanced practitioners who can use this as a way to stay in the present moment. By focusing on the flow of breath through your nostrils during the pranayama practice, you will be able to balance the different energy flows within your body.
(2) – The Flow of Breath Through the Nadis – The second step in practice is observing the breath flow through your central nadis. During this step, you will be moving your attention away from your nostrils and toward the energy channels in your body. In particular, the two main energy channels that play an important role in the nadi shodhana pranayama practice are the ida and the pingala nadis.
Benefits of breath awareness
Breath awareness is a key component of nadi shodhana pranayama. It is also a valuable practice in and of itself. Practicing breath awareness will allow you to tap into your present-moment experience.
You will also be able to break free from any negative thoughts or feelings that may hold you back. Practicing breath awareness can help you to become more mindful of your thoughts and emotions.
It can also help you to respond to situations rather than react to them. This pranayama practice can also have a calming effect on the body, as well as an energizing effect on the mind.
Tips for mastering the technique
Find a comfortable posture: The first thing you should do is find a comfortable posture. You can either sit in a cross-legged position or sit in a chair with your back straight. In either case, you should be sitting upright with your shoulders relaxed.
Focus your attention – Next, you should focus your attention on the flow of breath through your nostrils. As you do this, try to clear your mind of any thoughts that may be pulling you away from the present moment.
Focus on the flow of breath through the ida and pingala nadis – Then, you should focus on the flow of breath through the ida and pingala nadis. As you do this, try to clear your mind of any thoughts that may be pulling you away from the present moment.
Integrating Nadi Shodhana Pranayama into your daily life
There are several ways you can integrate this ancient breathing technique into your daily life. For example, you can try to practice this pranayama practice for 10 to 15 minutes two or three times a day.
Alternatively, you can set the alarm to go off every hour to remind you to take a few minutes to do this practice. You can also try to incorporate nadi shodhana pranayama into your everyday activities. For example, you can practice this while sitting at your desk or doing household or yard work.
Prana, or life force, is believed to flow through all living beings. The ancient practice of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is designed to extend, expand, or control the flow of this prana.
Practicing this pranayama technique can increase your overall energy and experience positive benefits in all areas of your life. From a mental and physical health perspective, you can experience reduced stress, increased blood flow, and improved well-being.
From a spiritual perspective, you can experience a deeper connection to the divine and an overall feeling of inner peace and tranquility.