Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is a breathing exercise that brings balance to the nervous system. It’s effective for calming stress and anxiety, yet also can be energizing when feeling heavy and lethargic. Nadi Shodhana purifies the subtle energy channels (nadis) of the body so the prana flows more easily. This type of pranayama requires a lot of concentration making it an effective way to clear the mind and take a break from the thoughts.
Using your right hand, place the thumb at the top of the right nostril and the ring finger at the top of the left. The fingers should lay where the bridge begins – toward the middle of the nose rather than at the very bottom or top. Rest the fingertips softly on the nose without pressing the nostrils closed. The index and middle finger can either rest softly on the forehead (shown above) or you can press the fingertips into the palm of the hand for mrgi mudra.
Breathe easily and naturally, creating a consistent rhythm through the nose.
After several breaths, press in softly with the thumb on the exhale and breathe out the left nostril.
Relax the finger on the inhale to draw breath in through both nostrils, exhale out the left side for several breaths until it feels natural.
Switch over to the right nostril: breathe in through both nostrils, press in with the ring finger and breathe out of the right nostril. Repeat until it feels easy and natural.
Continue breathing through both nostrils with the fingers still in place.
Keeping the flow of your breath slow and smooth, press in with the thumb and exhale out the left.
Inhale through the left, switch fingers pressing with the ring finger, and breathe out through the right side.
Breathe in through the right side, switch fingers, breathe out through the left side and so on.
Focus on creating a slow, consistent rhythm to ensure a calming effect. If you have difficulty breathing, pause to breathe normally, then try again. When you are first practicing Nadi Shodhana, just do 3-5 rounds. After it becomes more comfortable, try to go at least 12 full rounds or more.