Alternate Nostril Breathing - Nadi Sodhana

Alternate Nostril Breathing - Nadi Shodhana
Alternate Nostril Breathing - Nadi Shodhana. John Freeman/Doring Kindersley/Getty Images

Alternate nostril breathing may sound a little wacky but once you know how it easy to incorporate into your routine and has proven calming effects. So how can you breathe out of one nostril at a time and why would you want to? The method is not as crazy as it seems since you use your fingers to block off one nostril at a time as you breathe through the other. Alternating your breath between nostrils in a regular pattern is balancing, relaxing, and calming, making nadi sodhana a very popular pranayama exercise.

This method is traditionally thought to balance the two sides of your brain and to clear the nadis, which are energy channels that run along the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Research has begun to bear out this belief by showing that this breath can reduce blood pressure. If you are a little congested, expect this pranayama to move the mucus out so have some tissues handy. However, if you are too stuffed up to breathe out of either nostril you won't be able to get the intended benefits, so wait until the air passageways are clear to do this exercise. 


1. You can practice this breath in any seated position. Make yourself comfortable in sukasana, half lotus, virasana, vajrasana, or even sitting in a chair. You will be sitting for several minutes, so use props as necessary so you can maintain your posture.

2. Position your right hand in Vishnu mudra by folding your pointer and middle fingers into your palm, leaving your thumb, ring finger, and pinky sticking up.

3. Bring your thumb to the right side of your nose and your ring finger to the left side.

4. Close your eyes or take a soft gaze downward. Inhale and exhale once to prepare.

5. Close off your right nostril with your thumb.

6. Inhale through your left nostril.

7. Close off your left nostril with your ring finger.

8. Open and exhale through your right nostril.

9. Inhale through your right nostril.

10. Close off your right nostril with your thumb.

11. Open and exhale through your left nostril.

12. Inhale through your left nostril.

13. At first, you might only make it through a few rounds of this breath. Try to work up to doing at least 10 rounds. You can also take a break and then resume the exercise.

14. If you mind begins to wander, focus on counting the length of your inhales and exhales or on the sensation of your breath on the skin under your nose. It may feel cool as you inhale and warm as you exhale. 

15. If you ever begin to feel light headed, release both nostrils and breath normally. 

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