Nadi Shodhana: Alternate Nostril Breathing: how to, benefits, mudras, and meaning

Use your ring finger to close the left nostril for Nadi Shodhana
Use your ring finger to close the left nostril for Nadi Shodhana

Nadi Shodhana is a kind or Pranayama (breathwork) that involves breathing through alternate nostrils.  Nadi means river, stream or channel.  In this case, it refers to the energy channels, called nadis.  Shodhana means refinement or purification.  Nadi Shodhana is a purifying breath that helps align the energy channels of the body.

Nadi Shodhana is one of my favorite kinds of pranayama.  I like to start my day and my classes with it.

Common mudra for Nadi Shodhana
Common mudra for Nadi Shodhana

Right hand positioning

To help close one nostril at a time, use your right hand.  Fold down your pointer and middle finger.  Then turn your hand so your palm and turned down fingers are facing your chest.  You will use your thumb to close your right nostril and your ring finger to close the left.  When you do this pranayama, you want to put your finger on the part of your nose where the bone meets the cartilage.  This way, you can ensure the nostril is sealed off.

Fingers crossed for additional stability for Nadi Shodhana
Fingers crossed for additional stability for Nadi Shodhana

Alternate mudras (hand gestures) for the right hand:

1.  With your pointer and middle finger pointing down, you can wrap your ring finger around behind your pinkie. This makes the fingers more stable. If you use this mudra, you will use your pinkie to close the left nostril.

You can use your middle and pointer fingers on the third eye in Nadi Shodhana
You can use your middle and pointer fingers on the third eye in Nadi Shodhana

 

 

2.  Instead of folding down your pointer and middle finger, it’s also possible to use them to gently press your third eye. This can be calming, and can help bring awareness to the pranayama.

 

Preparing the body

Find a comfortable seat and sit up nice and tall.  You can rest your left hand on your knee, open or in any mudra (gesture) that you like.  Sometimes the fingers naturally come towards each other to form a mudra.  If this is true for you, follow your body to the mudra.

Use your thumb to close the right nostril for Nadi Shodhana
Use your thumb to close the right nostril for Nadi Shodhana

Before you begin, empty out all of your breath so you can start fresh for Nadi Shodhana.

 

For Nadi Shodhana

Close your right nostril with your thumb and breathe in through the left.  Move your hand to close your left nostril (and open the right) to exhale.  Inhale through the right, then move your hand to close the right nostril with your thumb and open the left nostril to exhale.

So: inhale, change, exhale, inhale, change, exhale

Practice this pranayama for 10 rounds (one round means inhaling and exhaling on each side)

Option to use the pointer and middle finger on the third eye to add to the calming effects of Nadi Shodhana
Option to use the pointer and middle finger on the third eye to add to the calming effects of Nadi Shodhana

 

 

Benefits of Nadi Shodhana

Nadi Shodhana helps bring oxygen into the blood stream, which is good for the respiratory and nervous system.  This type of pranayama also calms and focuses the mind, relieving stress and reducing anxiety.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Nadi Shodhana: Alternate Nostril Breathing: how to, benefits, mudras, and meaning

  1. I like the option on two fingers on the third eye — more calming and is definitely what I need

    1. This breath is definitely calming, especially with that mudra. Give it a go! <3

  2. Very nice Yogi teaching — I think of how far this goes back in history — awesome!!
    (PS love the Yoga pants!!! 🙂

    1. I love those pants too! Super comfy! Thanks!! Yoga is especially cool when you think about the history and the exploration that must have taken place to lead to today’s practices <3

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