Nadi shodhana pranayama, which translates to ‘cleaning the channels’, is a technique that involves alternating nostril inhalations and exhalations.
It stimulates the energy meridians in the body and harmonizes the brain's two hemispheres by balancing left-sided activity with right-sided activity.
This article will look at the benefits, precautions, and techniques of nadi shodhana pranayama.
Lets begin with an introduction to nadi shodhana pranayama!
What is nadi shodhana pranayama?
Alternate Nostril Breathing, also known as Nadi Shodhanana, is a vigorous breathing technique with numerous advantages.
Nadi signifies "channel" or "flow" in Sanskrit, and shodhana means "purification."
As a result, nadi shodhana is primarily concerned with cleansing and purifying the mind-body organism’s subtle channels while balancing its masculine and feminine parts. It is beneficial to all three doshas and is a practice that almost anyone can do.
In nadi shodhana pranayama, the yogi alternates between inhaling and exhaling through one of the two nostrils. Inhalation is done through one nostril, while exhalation is done through the other nostril.
According to some yoga schools, the nostrils are associated with the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and alternating nostril breathing stimulates and balances these centres.
Alternate nostril breathing is also a relaxation technique; you can perform it while seated or lying on the back and help relieve headaches and stress.
It relaxes the body and mind by increasing blood flow to the brain, calming nervous energy, and decreasing tension.
You will notice a clean opening in your nasal passageway after performing Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. Any pranayama will yield the best benefits if the nostrils are clear and fully open.
For this reason, Nadi shodhana is a helpful warm-up exercise before starting any other types of pranayama. In fact, Nadi shodhan pranayama is described before the eight classical pranayamas in Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Purpose of nadi shodhana
According to yogic science, energy in our bodies passes through Nadis, which are pathways in the subtle body.
However, nadis become blocked due to physical and psychological reasons such as injury, stress, anxiety, and fear, resulting in inappropriate body and mind functioning.
Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna are the three main Nadis through which Prana energy flows into the 72,000 Nadis and throughout the body.
The goal of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is to cleanse all 72,000 Nadis so that the passage of prana is unobstructed.
According to Hatha Yoga, following Asana practice, when the body experiences a surge of energy, the role of Nadi Shodhana is to purify the Nadis before the energy spreads throughout the entire body.
Furthermore, regular Nadi Shodhana practice activates and harmonizes Ida and Pingala Nadis, resulting in the opening of the closed Sushumna Nadi. In addition, the introduction of Sushumna Nadi causes Kundalini to arise.
Preparing for nadi shodhana
For beginners, it is recommended to do nadi shodhana before asana practice, minimizing as many asanas as possible.
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama Mudra
Vishnu Mudra and Nasagra Mudra can be used in Nadi Shodhana Pranayama to quickly and efficiently seal the nostrils. Only the right hand is used to perform both mudras.
Curl the index and middle fingers of your right hand towards the palm for Vishnu mudra. The right nostril is now closed with the right thumb, while the left is closed with the ring finger. Thumb and ring fingers are squeezed together to seal nostrils for air retention.
Nasagra mudra can be used by those who find it difficult to flex their fingers when training. The index and middle fingers are extended up between the two brows at the root of the nose for Nasagra mudra.
The nostrils work similarly to the Vishnu mudra. Although both mudras act the same way, Nasagra mudra makes it easier to concentrate in Nadi Shodhana.
Inhale-exhale same nostril
Always begin with this simple breathing to properly open both nostrils before starting Nadi Shodhan Pranayama. Uninostril breathing is when you inhale and exhale through a single nostril.
- Sit in the position of siddhasana. Then, with your right thumb, close your right nostril, inhale deeply through your left nose, and expel entirely through the same nostril. Repeat this process ten times.
- Then, using your right ring finger, shut the left nostril. Then, ten times via the right nostril, inhale and exhale in the same manner.
- Start with a breathing ratio of 1:1 and work your way up to 1:2 in this preparation.
Inhale-exhale from the opposite nostril at one time
Work on inhalation-exhalation from opposing nostrils in one cycle to synchronize breathing flow.
- Sit in the same position as in the previous stage. Take a deep breath via the left nostril after closing the right nostril with the right thumb. Exhale entirely by closing the left nostril with the right ring finger. There is just one cycle.
- Inhale to the left and exhale to the correct ten times. Chandra Bhedana Pranayama is the name of the technique.
- After the tenth round, reverse your breathing pattern, inhaling from the right nostril first and closing the left. Then, while the right nostril is closed, exhale via the left nostril. Surya Bhedana Pranayama is the name of this technique.
How to do nadi shodhana step by step
The following steps to nadi shodhana pranayama will guide you in performing this technique safely and effectively.
- Sit comfortably in Sukhasana or Padmasana with your shoulders relaxed and your spine erect.
- Place your left hand on your left knee with palms facing up or in Chin Mudra (thumb and index finger gently touching at the tips).
- Between the brows, place the tip of the index and middle fingers of the right hand, the ring and little fingers on the left nostril, and the thumb on the right nostril.
The left nostril will be opened or closed using the ring and little fingers, while the right nostril will be opened or closed with the thumb.
- Breathe out slowly via the left nostril while pressing your thumb on the right nostril.
- Inhale deeply through the left nostril, then gently press the left nostril with the ring and little fingers. Finally, breathe out from the right nostril after removing the right thumb from the right nostril.
- Inhale via your right nostril and exhale through your left. One round of Nadi Shodhan pranayama has been completed. Continue to breathe in and out through alternate nostrils.
- Complete nine rounds by breathing through both nostrils alternately. Remember to breathe in through the same nostril you exhaled from after each exhalation.
Close your eyes and continue to take long, deep, smooth breaths without exerting any energy or effort.
Benefits of nadi shodhana
The benefits of nadi shodhana are many.
- Improves Blood circulation: The flow of prana throughout the body coordinates through Ida and Pingala Nadis.
The Ida Nadi, which originates at the Muladhara Chakra, flows down into the Sushumna Nadi, located at the base of the spine.
It allows for cross-linking between all vertebrae in each body segment, leading to improved blood circulation throughout the entire body.
- Helps in Cardiovascular Health: A constant blood flow through the Ida Nadi helps keep the heart-healthy.
In addition, the Ida Nadi increases blood pressure but causes less strain than Pingala Nadis, which are responsible for producing stress-related hormones.
- Synchronize Brain Hemisphere: Nadi Shodhana deepens the mind and develops a state of meditation. It enhances brain synchronization by promoting the flow of prana throughout the body.
- Improves Digestion: As the Ida and Pingala Nadis affect the digestive tract, Ida Nadi is responsible for slow and steady digestion, while Pingala Nadi improves the speed of digestion.
- Promotes upliftment of Prana: The ultimate goal of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is to clear the pathway or subtle energy channels so that prana can easily flow.
This pranayama technique's breath is vital in that it effectively stimulates the prana, balancing the Ida and Pingala Nadis.
- Improves the functioning of the Mind-Body system: As Ida Nadi connects to Manipura Nadi, which is responsible for managing emotions, Ida Nadi helps alleviate negative emotions.
It also corrects problems with communication between your physical body and your soul.
- Strengthening Muscles: The tension in the muscles lightens through the practice of Ida Shodana Pranayama. It facilitates muscle strengthening and flexibility.
- When doing Nadi shodhana pranayama, beginners should avoid putting pressure on one side of the nose. The soft tissue and cartilage of the nose may harm as a result of this.
- Instead of hurrying with the breath, new practitioners should focus on deep and steady breathing. Unfortunately, in the end, this would not produce the desired consequences.
- Beginners should keep their spine straight so that enough space is available for the lungs and diaphragm to contract and relax. It will enhance the body’s response to breath.
- A feeling of lightness in the body and mind indicates that Nadi Shodhan Pranayama is effective.
- To implement the effect of Nadi Shodhan Pranayama, you must practice it regularly to be easy for you to channel energy anywhere you want.
- If you have a cold or a runny nose, avoid doing Nadi Shodhana pranayama. It might obstruct breathing or cause the windpipe to get clogged.
- Practitioners who are allergic to dust particles or sensitive to them should avoid practising this pranayama near a dirty area. In this case, an open location with plenty of fresh air or an airy indoor room would be the best choice.
- While experiencing pain or inflammation in the nasal or throat region, patients with sinuses should avoid doing Nadi Shodhana pranayama. In such suffering, the procedure would be unlikely to provide the desired results.
Practitioners with asthma and high blood pressure should avoid breath retention, as it can be dangerous if neglected.
- Shortness of breath during Nadi Shodhana indicates that you are pushing your breath beyond its natural limitations. If you start to feel lightheaded, dizzy, or nauseous, stop immediately.
- You should Nadi Shodhana pranayama if you have a mouth, nose, throat, or lungs infection. Otherwise, a catastrophic situation could arise.
- You should not practice this pranayama immediately after a meal; instead, you should do it after a minimum of 3 to 4 hours.
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is a strengthening pranayama that can be done by anyone. It has been practised by practitioners of various faiths, from Christians to Sikhs.
Although it is not difficult to master, some rules and conditions require one to be cautious and attentive.
For example, you should avoid this pranayama with the onset of cold or flu as it could worsen the state due to the vital flow of air through an already congested nasal passage. Also, you should not practise it when sinusitis or nasal polyps are present.
Breathing is a universal activity that we do daily. It is an essential part of our lives, and the process in which we breathe in and breathe out is vital in keeping us alive and healthy. So try this breathing exercise as often as you can as it will surely make a difference in your life!
Let me know in the comments what you think of this breathing exercise! Did it help your life? Did it help you become more relaxed?
What Happens When these Nadis are Blocked?
Cold, depression, low mental energy, sluggish digestion, and a blocked left nostril are symptoms of the Ida nadi not functioning correctly or being obstructed.
Heat, irritability, itching, dry skin and throat, increased appetite, excessive physical or sexual energy, and a clogged right nostril are symptoms of the Pingala nadi not functioning correctly or being obstructed.
Can Nadis block occur in life?
Yes. Nadis can be blocked by emotional/mental stress, physical disease, emotional trauma, environmental toxins, poor diet, alcohol consumption, and anaemia.
How do you know if your Nadi is blocked?
A blocked nadi can be felt as congestion, heaviness, or pressure in the area of the throat, sinuses, head, or chest. It also restricts the flow of prana (vital energy) through the body and may cause or worsen an illness.