Breathing is a simple vitality to life that we generally don’t pay much attention to. At its essence breathing is life. We involuntarily breathe every day, all day long. In yoga, we refer to this as pranayama. In Sanskrit pranayama translates to “the control of life force.” Controlling our breathing can help regulate systems in our body and different breathing techniques can help us support different bodily functions.
Often in my yoga classes I begin with Nadi shodhana, also known as alternate nostril breathing. Nadi shodhana restores balance in the left and right hemispheres of the brain and clears the energetic channels. It also helps to regulate the nervous system, calm the mind, improve our ability to focus, and reduce stress. On my Pinterest and Instagram, you will find a video of me demonstrating nadi shodhana. Below are directions as well:
- Take a comfortable seat, with integrity through the spine.
- Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap or make a ball with your left fist and place it underneath your right arm for support. The fingers you’ll actively use are the right thumb and right ring finger.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily. Be sure to inhale into your belly, not your chest.
- Once you are full of breath, close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are held closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale for a brief pause.
- Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale.
- Inhale through the right side slowly breathing into the belly’s space.
- Hold both nostrils closed (with ring finger and thumb).
- Open your left nostril and release breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.
- Repeat for at least 4 cycles and notice the difference in your body.
This technique is one of my favorites for calming the mind and reducing stress. Its great for yoga practice preparation, before a meditation practice, or before bed.
May you be well – Dominique