Nadi Shodhana Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing: A Step-by-step Technique
Alternate nostril breathing, also called Anuloma Viloma or Nadi Shodhana, is usually practiced before beginning the practice of Pranayamas. This is an excellent breathing practice to balance the energies in your body and to activate the flow of breath equally from both the nostrils. Daily practice of this technique removes blockages and produces a calming effect.
Also read: Yoga: Types of Breathing Techniques
The long-lasting calm is said to relieve anxiety, improve concentration, and stimulate the Third Eye Chakra or Ajna Chakra for those seeking spiritual progress. Breathing through the left nostril activates the right hemisphere, and vice versa, thus stimulating the entire nervous system.
Contraindications: Do not practice this if you are suffering from colds, flu, or fever.
How to perform Nasarga Mudra
Bring your right hand in front of your face. Place your index finger and middle finger gently over the space in between your eyebrows. Ensure that your fingers are relaxed. Now place the right thumb above your right nostril and ring finger above the left. These are the only two fingers, which will move and control the inflow and outflow of breath through nostrils. You will do so by gently resting your finger on one nostril, without effort or added pressure. One must always maintain the posture as there is a caution of restricting the chest area while performing this mudra.
How to perform alternate nostril breathing
1. Take any comfortable seating posture of your choice — Sukhasana, Padmasana or Vajrasana. Make sure that the spine is erect and your head upright. Relax your entire body, you may choose to keep your eyes shut or gaze at a point in front of you.
2. Take Nasarga mudra with the right hand and the left hand can rest on the knee or take any other mudra that you wish, for example Jnana mudra or Chin mudra.
3. Gently, close your right nostril with your right thumb and start inhaling from the left.
4. Now, slowly change the position of your fingers and shut the entrance of the left nostril using your ring finger and the small finger. Simultaneously, start exhaling from the right nostril.
5. Instantly, start inhaling from the right nostril without breaking the flow. Now close the right nostril and exhale from the left.
6. Note that in this variation you will not hold, ie, retain or suspend your breath.
7. Now repeat the entire procedure in a continuous manner.
Counts: Maintain a ratio of 1:1 for every inhalation and exhalation cycle
Inhale right x3 seconds – Exhale left x3 seconds
Inhale left x3 seconds – Exhale right x3 seconds
Also read: Breath Awareness in Yoga: Dos and Don’ts
Beginners may choose to inhale for three counts and exhale for three. Whereas, someone who is established in their practice may opt for six or even eight counts, as long as every inhalation and exhalation is equal.
Repetitions: You may choose to practise 10 rounds in one go. Remember that one round is x2 inhalation and exhalation from both the nostrils.
Awareness: Try to bring your attention to the sensation of air as it enters and exits the nostril. Focus your awareness on the bridge of the nose to experience these sensations.