NADI SODHANAM – Alternate Nostril Breath.
This is probably the most well-known pranayama technique. It requires little previous experience but can deliver a dramatic effect. The way we breathe through nostrils relates to the two hemispheres of our brain. We can identify which side of the brain is active by the power of the breath coming out of each nostril. If there is a stronger flow of air through the right nostril that will indicate that the alternative brain hemisphere (left) is dominant. The left side (right nostril) of the brain is concerned with mathematical reasoning, studying, debating and so on. The right side (left nostril) of the brain is concerned with creative, calm work, working with shapes, non-verbal communication and so on.
‘It is said that when we can control the flow of breath in the nostrils then we can control our mind’ Dru Manual
The aim of the Nadi Sodhanam breath is to balance both left and right hemispheres of the brain bringing calmness and preparing for relaxation, meditation or even a good nights sleep.
- Make sure you are sitting comfortably either cross-legged on the floor or on a chair. Ensure the spine is straight and the pelvis is forward and not slouching back. Shoulders relaxed.
- Using your right hand position your right thumb near you’re the bottom of your right nostril, middle fingers on your brow and little finger by the left nostril. Your right arm and elbow should stay in midline of the body (this will prevent your head moving to the right).
- With your little finger close off your left nostril. Breathe in through your right nostril.
- At the end of your breath close off the right nostril with your thumb at the same time release your left nostril and breath out.
- Breath in through your left nostril. At the end of the in breath close off the left nostril and breathe out of your right nostril.
- Continue this cycle again and build up to 5 minutes.
- Once completed seat for a moment and return to your natural breath.
If you feel uncomfortable at anytime stop and return to natural breathing. It is probably better that you do not practice this breath during a cold even though I have practiced this breath during a cold and found it to unblock my nostrils and relieved my breathing.
The technique can be used during stressful times, before an important event where you need to calm yourself or when suffering insomnia.
(If the arm gets tired you can always hold the elbow with the other hand)