Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
Nadi is a tubular organ for the passage of prana, or energy carrying cosmic, vital, seminal, and other energies, as well as sensation, intelligence and consciousness in the causal, subtle, and physical bodies. Shodhana means purifying, or cleansing. The term nadi shodhana means the purification of the nerves. This pranayama is also referred to as ‘alternate nose breathing’.
Before you engage in any Pranayama practice please read these general guidelines.
The Technique, Stage One Prepatory:
Sit in a comfortable cross legged position, spine straight, shoulders down, and relaxed. Head centered between the shoulders, chin tipped slightly downward, eyes closed. Use the thumb, and fourth finger (ring finger) of your right hand. The two middle fingers can rest gently on your forehead. To avoid strain in the neck, and shoulders, keep them closed into the palm. The pinky is not in use.
Use your thumb to close off the right nostril, as you breath into the left. Initially start off the inhalation to the count of five. Should you experience dizziness, reduce the count. As soon as you reach the top of the inhalation, immediately close the left nostril with your right ring finger, removing your thumb from the right nostril at the same time, and begin a slow, rhythmic, effortless exhalation through this nostril. Do this to the count of five. This completes a half round.
Inhale through the right nostril to the count of five. Close the right nostril with your right thumb. Exhale through the left nostril to the count of five. This completes one full round. Start by doing three rounds, adding one round per day. Once you reach eight rounds you can begin Stage two.
Once stage 1 is going well, and there is no discomfort of any kind, you can begin to increase the length of the inhalation, and exhalation to a higher count, as well as increasing the number of rounds. Give yourself time, working up to this gradually, staying aware, and mindful at all times of the breath, keeping it deep, and rhythmic, and making sure it is never forced.
After you master stage 2, which could take some time, the duration of the exhalation may be doubled. Begin with a ratio of 4 on the inhalation and 8 on the exhalation, moving up from there to a maximum of 6 and 12.
Advanced Nadi Shodhana:
Advanced stages of Nadi Shodhana should only be practiced under the direct guidance of a yoga teacher knowledgeable in teaching pranayama breathing techniques.
Advanced stages involve internal retention, external retention, and the application of the bandas (locks) Jalandhara Bandha (chin lock), and Moola Bandha (root lock).
Do not force the breath in any way. At the slightest sign of discomfort reduce the time of each inhalation, and exhalation or discontinue the practice, and check with a health professional.
Alternate nostril breathing should not be practiced if your nasal passages are blocked in any way. Forced breathing through the nose may lead to complications.
Some of the Effects:
In nadi shodhana pranayama, due to the deep penetration of prana, the blood receives a larger supply of oxygen than in other types of pranayama The nerves are calmed and purified, and the mind becomes still and lucid.
Its practice keeps the body warm, destroys diseases, gives strength and brings serenity. The vital energy drawn in from the cosmic energy through inhalation, passes close to vital chakras and feeds the glands. The respiratory control center of the brain is stimulated and becomes fresh, clear, and tranquil. The light of intelligence is lit simultaneously in the brain as well as in the mind. This leads to right thinking, and sound Judgement.