“I rest well. I sleep peacefully, and I awaken with joy” Louise Hay
Nadi = subtle energy channel; Shodhan = cleaning, purification; Pranayama = breathing technique.
Nadi Shodhana, or “alternate nostril breathing,” is a simple yet powerful technique that settles the mind, body, and emotions. You can use it to quiet your mind before beginning a meditation practice, and it is particularly helpful to ease racing thoughts if you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or having trouble falling asleep.
It has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine and yoga
, where it’s thought to harmonize the two hemispheres of the brain, resulting in a balanced in physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Left nostril for calming – right nostril for energy.
The Main Nadis
Of your 72,000 energy lines, or nadis, three are of particular interest in our exploration of prana breathing. The ida nadi channel flows to the left of your spine, the pingala nadi channel to the right, and the central nadi channel, which approximates your spine, is known as the sushumna. The left and right channels are associated with qualities of mind, and when your breath flows through one of these channels it develops these qualities in you. Various pranyama breathing exercises can guide your breath through the left and right nadi channels. The only time your breath flows evenly is during pranayama meditation, when it enters the central nadi energy channel and both sides of your brain are balanced. In order to achieve a state of meditation, ancient yogis developed breathing techniques referred to as pranayama. Practicing pranayama breathing is one of the main disciplines within hatha yoga.
12 benefits of alternate nostril breathing:
1: Revitalizes you:
A few rounds of alternate nostril breathing is a quick pick me up if you are feeling flat, tired or even stressed. It provides your body with a much needed dose of extra energy.
2: Improves brain function:
mind is dull – concentration
and clarity is
poor. Alternate nostril breathing brings equal amounts of oxygen to both sides of the brain for improved brain function. Five minutes of alternate nostril breathing
before an exam or interview is a great way to access your whole brain for improved performance. Remember the brain loses hydration first so drink water as well.
3: Cleanses your lungs:
A daily five minute practice morning and night of alternate nostril breathing is great way to remove stale air and impurities from the bottom of your lungs.
4: Calms an agitated mind:
I’m prone to worrying. A few minutes of focused alternate nostril breathing is helpful (for me) in calming my “over thinking” and “over-doing” mind.
The ancient yogis believe that if you can regulate your breath
, then you can control your mind.
5: Merges the left “thinking” brain and right “feeling brain:
Alternate nostril breathing optimizes both sides of your brain so you can access your whole brain, and all the benefits that go with it.
Try it out next time you need to drive your car. Cover your left nostril with your thumb and breathe only through your right nostril for one minute. This should keep you more alert when driving.
6: Encourage a calmer emotional state:
In times of emotional distress
and upset, a few rounds of mindful nostril breathing will soften the intensity of over reactive
emotional states. The longer you practice, the more stable your thinking, and the calmer your emotions will become.
7: Improves sleep:
If you can’t sleep at night lay on your right hand
side, gently close your right nostril with your right thumb and breath through your left nostril. This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system which will calm you down and slow your heart rate. Left nostril breathing is cooling, calming
and nourishing for your whole being.
8: Great preparation for meditation:
Alternate nostril breathing is a simple little trick that can be practiced for a few minutes before you begin your meditation
practice. It’s a very easy way to help you find your meditation groove.
9: Soothes your nervous system:
By focusing on your breath and deepening it, your brain will register this message and trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. You have effectively switched your nervous system from a stressed response, into a relaxation response. Single left nostril breathing (by closing your right nostril) will direct the flow of oxygen and energy to the right hemisphere of your brain, allowing once again, for the parasympathetic nervous system to be switched on. Gosh, your breath and nose is very clever.
10: Regulates the cooling and warming cycles of the body:
Left nostril is feminine, nurturing, calm, receiving and cooling. Right nostril is masculine, heat, competitive`, doing, active and force. Favouring one nostril more than the other can effect the heat or coolness of your body.
11: Clears and boosts your energy channels:
Slightly forced alternate nostril breathing improves and directs the flow of energy throughout your body – preventing sluggishness. It oxygenates your blood and allows the energy (prana) in your body to be strong and flowing.
12: Enhances rest and relaxation:
A restless mind cannot relax. Alternate nostril breathing melts away an imbalances between the right and left hemisphere of your brain and calms your thinking. This is perfect for helping you access rest and relaxation far more efficiently.