Alternate Nostril Breathing - A Practice to Relax.
You want to deepen your yoga practice or add more tools to your self-care tool-box? This practice is for you. Whether you feel comfortable exploring it on your own or you would like a teacher by your side the whole time, no worries, I've got you covered. I can be whispering in your eyes as your stress and tension melts away like an ice cream cone on a summer day.
Light up your favorite candle, pull up your cushion and let's get to it.
If you are unfamiliar with Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, check this article.
Before we get to the step by step, here are a few tips to make the practice easier and more enjoyable.
Keep your nails short
Make sure your nostrils are unobstructed.
Sit upright, in a comfortable and stable seat. Avoid doing this lying down.
Use the tip of the pad of the fingers against the bridge of the nose, just below the nasal cartilage.
Keep your fingers in contact with the skin at all times.
If you feel like your nostrils are not blocked but they feel small, you can open their aperture by pushing the skin up and away to open up the passage way.
If you are ready to practice, then here's how!
Sit upright and comfortable.
Bring the right hand (or more dexterous hand) to your nose.
Rest your left hand on the left thigh in Gyan Mudra (thumb and index in a loop)
Place your thumb on the right nostril, ring finger on the left. Lean the pinky finger on top.
Rest your peace fingers on your forehead or inside your palm. Choose less straining option.
Draw the chin a little down and back, lift through the back of the head.
Close your eyes or turn them down.
Relax your wrists and hands.
Relax your shoulders and let the shoulder blades drop.
Lift through the sternum, don't collapse the chest.
Alternate Nostril Breathing - Step by Step
Set finger on ridge of cartilage
Close right nostril - seal the nostril to not let air escape
Inhale left - keep contact with the skin all time
Close left - keep your head still
Open right nostril
Exhale right - Stay on the same side, always inhaling where we just exhaled
Inhale right - Feel the brush of the air as it comes through
Close right - Don't strain, apply gentle pressure
Open left nostril
Exhale left, creating that even flow of air so it becomes a steam, with the quality of flow like a river
Keep fingers in contact the whole time, develop your sensitivity to the touch of your skin and movement of air
This is one round. Repeat for 5 minutes.
Close right - Inhale left
Close left - exhale right
Stay - Inhale right
Close right - Exhale left
(= 1 full round, continue for 5 min)
Want to be guided through it?
In this guided practice, we do it the classic way that I laid it out here for you and we play with variations. You'll also have access to those! Some variations are easier for you to get more comfortable with the practice. You'll even get suggestions to go further, over time.
Want to explore the world of Pranayama? Listen to Intro to Pranayama, with Richard Rosen
Want to learn about Breath of Fire? Check our premium episode on the subject.
Want to learn Square Breath? Check our premium episode on it.