Nadi Shodhana – Alternate Nostril Breathing
Long ago ancient yogis detected what scientists now refer to as the nasal cycle. During the day our nostrils alternate periods of activity, ranging from a few minutes to a few hours. The breath is constantly shifting from left (lunar) to right (solar) channels and back again. Our solar breath pervades the right side of the body and controls the bodily function of eating, digestion, and elimination. The lunar breath pervades the left side of the body and controls the function of ingestion and assimilation of fluids and urination.
Both lunar and solar breaths also serve specific roles in our emotional body. The right breath controls our routine, rational activities-working, thinking, exercising, planning, or what we call left-brain functions. This breath is naturally heightened during strenuous and aggressive activities. The left breath controls our creative functions – meditation, prayer, singing, journaling, or what we call right brain activities. This breath is generally increased during peaceful and relaxing activities.
A practice that balances the solar (male) and lunar (female) energies in the body is called Alternate Nostril Breathing, Nadi Shodhana.
Start by sitting in any comfortable sitting position. Rest the thumb of your right hand next to your right nostril and the ring finger next to your left nostril. Curling your index and middle fingers inward, place your thumb on your right nostril. Exhale slowly and evenly through your left nostril, and then inhale through your left nostril.
Change your hand position, releasing your thumb and placing your ring finger over your left nostril. Exhale slowly and evenly through your right nostril, and then inhale through your right nostril.
This constitutes one round of alternate nostril breathing.
Repeat five to twelve times.
The best time to practice Nadi Shodhana is at the four junctions of the day – sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight.
TODAY’S TIP: Do not push the nostrils closed. Instead, find a place on your finger pads that exactly fits your nose without pushing it at all.