Alternate Nostril Breathing

What is Alternate Nostril Breathing?

Alternate nostril breathing is one of the core breathing techniques of the pranayama aspect of yoga but you don’t need to be a yogi to benefit from it. It is a great tool for helping you focus the energy of the mind and bring yourself into the present moment quickly. The traditional name is Nadi Shodhana and there are various ways to practice alternate nostril breathing. In this short article, we’ll go over the main benefits, safeness of the technique, and how to practice it pretty much anywhere.

Side view of young woman practicing yoga asana breathing exercise sitting in lotus position with closed eyes on sports mat in nature. Yoga and meditation, healthy active lifestyle

Benefits of Nodi Shodhana

In a general sense, the breathing technique has been found to help reduce anxiety, de-stress the body/mind, and promote overall well-being. Also, in some studies, a regular alternate nostril breathing practice has been linked to decreased blood pressure, heart rate, and improved cognitive health (Ghiya, 2017).  Furthermore, it helps you focus your mind and is great for deepening self-awareness which can help you get more out of your meditation practice (Feel free to try our easy guided meditation for reducing stress and anxiety here).

Young african man practicing yoga lesson, doing Alternate Nostril Breathing exercise

Is it Safe?

Yes, practicing alternate nostril breathing is completely safe for most people. However, if you have an underlying health condition regarding your lungs or heart please discuss the technique with your doctor before attempting the breath. Also, if the breathing makes you feel very agitated, creates shortness of breath, or triggers you in some other way we recommend taking a break immediately and attempting the breathing technique at another time.

Decision making and choosing between the right and wrong. Confusion about to accept or to reject.

How To Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing

There are many different variations of alternate nostril breathing you can practice, but the following is a great place to start if you are new to the breathing technique. You can practice it before yoga, after yoga, before meditating, or anytime you’d like to re-center yourself in your body. It is also best done in even steady breaths that aren’t rushed or irregular.

Here is the version we typically use with our clients:

1. Get comfortable in a seated position, with your spine lengthened and shoulders relaxed.

2. Take a few breaths in and out of your nose, making sure it is mostly clear (blowing your nose if needed).

3. Allow your left hand to rest comfortably in your lap, and bring your right hand in front of your face.

4. Now curl your pointer and middle finger to your palm and exhale all of your air.

5. Close your right nostril with your thumb and then inhale through your left nostril.

6. Pause for a moment at the top of your inhale.

7. Open the right nostril and close the left with your ring finger. Exhale slowly through your right nostril.

8. Pause for a moment at the end of your exhale.

9. Inhale through your right side.

10. Pause for a moment at the end of your inhale.

11. Open the left nostril, close the right again, and exhale through the left.

12. Pause for a moment at the exhale of your exhale.

13. Repeat steps 5-12 for a minute or two to start out, or just aim for 5-10 cycles.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing. Vector. 1
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing. Vector. 2

To gain a better understanding of meditation check out our meditation simplified article here.

To explore the benefits and how to of proper belly breathing, click here.

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