Breath for Balance and Wellbeing
By Ladan Judge
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
The term pranayama has been created from two words: Prana + Ayama. Prana is also known as vital force or the essence of energy within us and everything in the universe. Ayama means to lengthen or extend. Pranayama is the conscious expansion of our breath. Breathing is a natural process which we do not have to focus on or think about. In Pranayama, however, we systematically regulate and direct the inhalation and exhalation. It is important to note that under no circumstances should pranayama be forced.
Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhana is a purifying pranayama. This simple technique balances the left and right hemisphere of the brain, calms the nervous system, balances the hormonal system, and restores the whole body into a deep sense of physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
- To begin the practice, take a comfortable seated position. You can sit on a chair or on the floor cross legged. Use bolsters or blankets to make yourself comfortable.
- Keep your spine extended and your body straight but relaxed.
- Take a few natural breaths.
- Use your right-hand thumb to close the right nostril and inhale through the left nostril.
- Then close the left nostril with your right ring finger and little finger while you remove your thumb from the right nostril and exhale through the right nostril.
- Inhale back through the right nostril, close the right nostril with your right thumb, and exhale through the left nostril. This completes one full round of this practice.
- Continue in the same manner completing 5-10 rounds and slowly build the practice to 5-10 minutes per day.
- You can end your practice or follow with a meditation practice.