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Pranayama practice: Nadi Shodhana(Alternate Nostril Breathing)

Prana means vital energy or life force and exists in all things, animate and inanimate. Prana is more subtle than air or oxygen. Pranayama practices use breathing to influence the flow of prana in the nadis or energy channels. Pranayama practices, such as Nadi Shodhana, activate one’s prana and increases one’s vibration. It’s also known as psychic network purification. ‘Nadi’ means channels of energy and ‘Shodhana’ means purification. The nadis or energy centers can get blocked from stress, inactivity, toxins or contaminants and/or a poor diet, Nadi Shodhan helps to clear blocked energy channels and thus calms the mind. This pranayama practice in particular helps to increases one’s vibratory energy and awareness. As such, this is a good practice to do before meditation. It is also good for those with low energy, sluggishness or depression. The next 10 minutes includes a demonstration, step-by-step instruction. You can close the eyes. Nadi Shodhana shouldn’t be practiced if you have a cold or flu. Be sure to clear the nostrils before beginning the practice. Starting in a comfortable seated position such as Easy Pose (Sukhasana) with a cushion under your buttocks or Thunderbolt pose (Vajrasana) with a cushion in between the heels and the buttocks. Put the right hand in front of the face, with the palm facing towards you. Rest the index and middle finger gently on the eyebrow centre. In Chinese medicine this is the point that triggers relaxation. Put the thumb above the right nostril and the ring finger above the left nostril. Close the right nostril, inhale through the left nostril, then close the left and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the same, right nostril, then close it, open the left and exhale through the left nostril. Again, inhale through the same left nostril and continue – pressing one nostril then the next, alternating between them. You can support the elbow with the other palm, if needed. The spine should be upright and elongated to promote the free flow of prana.

Remember to relax the whole body and keep the breath smooth and steady.

You can move with ease from the pranayama practice to a seated meditation, using the breath as the focal point to calm and centre the mind. Sit in mediation on the breath for five minutes. Meditate in comfortable upright position with the spine elongated, lengthening upwards and increasing the space between the vertebrae. Watch the breath without controlling it. Feeling the cool air entering the nostrils; following the oxygen entering the back of the throat and esophagus; filling the lungs and the lower belly; leaving the lungs as the belly contracts; exiting the nostrils, warmed by the body. Continue for another 3 minutes in silence before ending the pranayama programme. Namaste.

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