Nadi Shodhana: A Novice’s Handbook
It is a known fact that the breath we take is vital for life. The air in every breath we take, purifies every cell in our body by removing toxins. Nadi Shodhana is a powerful breathing technique that improves the quantity of air that travels through the body which in turn not only purifies but brings about a sense of balance in the body. Read on to learn more about this breathing technique and all the benefits it has to offer.
The word “Nadi” translates to nerves and “Shodhana” to purification. The technique is similar to the alternate nostril breathing - Anulom Vilom Pranayama but it involves holding the breath (Kumbhaka) after every inhalation and exhalation. Nadi Shodhana awakens the ida nadi and the pingal nadi (nerves of the left and right nostrils respectively) which inturn awakens 36,000 nadis each. The way Nadi Shodhana brings about balance in the body is with the help of these nerves; the ida nadi innervates the right brain and the left side of the body and the pingal nadi innervates the left brain and right side of the body. Therefore, activating these nerves brings about a balance to both sides of the body. This pranayama not only balances the body but also the three doshas- Vatta, Pitta, Kapha
How to perform Nadi Shodhana?
- Sit in padmasana (lotus position) comfortably.
- Inhale and exhale deeply for about five times to help awaken the body.
- Relax and place your left hand on your knee and bring the right hand in front of your face.
- Fold the index and the middle fingers till the tips reach the base of the palm. The thumb will be used to close the right nostril; the ring and little finger will be used to close the left nostril. This is called the Vishnu mudra.
- Now use the thumb to close the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril. As you inhale close your eyes and feel the air filling the left side of the body - now hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Next use the ring and little finger to close your left nostril and exhale completely through your right nostril, relax and feel the air leaving the body along with all the toxins. After you’ve completely emptied your lungs hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Keeping the left nostril closed inhale completely through the right nostril and hold your breath at the end of the inhalation.
- Then use your thumb to close the right nostril and exhale completely through the left nostril, hold your breath at the end of the exhalation.
- Repeat 5-10 cycles of the above steps.
- Remember to keep the ratio of inhalation, exhalation and pause the same, that is if you inhale for 5 seconds exhale for 5 seconds and hold your breath for 5 seconds.
When to perform Nadi Shodhana?
- When you are under stress and have lots of thoughts clouding your mind, Nadi Shodhana helps de-cloud and relax your mind.
- In the morning, as Nadi Shodhana helps promote respiratory health.
- If you lack focus and are suffering from a creative block, this breathing technique can alleviate the blocks and improve the flow of thoughts.
Benefits of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
- Strengthens the nervous system
- Improves focus and concentration
- Helps ease stress and anxiety
- Promotes respiratory health
- Helps balance all the three doshas
- Make sure you are seated comfortably before performing this technique. If it hard to sit on the floor opt to sit on a chair
- Practice this technique slowly matching your lung capacity.
- Nadi Shodhana pranayama must be practiced on an empty stomach. There must be at least 4-5 hours of spacing between your last meal and the practice of this technique.