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The Benefits of Nadi Shodhana: Alternate Nostril Breathwork Guide

Updated: Apr 19

This pranayama practice is suitable for most everyone and balances Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It is a practice that is particularly helpful in relieving anxiety as it reduces emotional reactivity. It is a very effective way to quickly reach a state of very profound mental and physical stillness.


Prana means "life force" and ayama means "expansion." Pranayama practices help us permeate our bodies and minds prana, with the vital force. Pranayama increases your vitality." -Veena, Saumya Ayurveda

woman practicing nadi shodhana

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The Benefits of Nadi Shodhana: Alternate Nostril Breathwork Guide


Let's cover the fundamentals before we practice nadi shodhana. Nadi is a Sanskrit word for "channel," shodhana means "purification." In pranic terms nadi shodhana purifies the nadis (energy channels) of the pranamaya-kosha in the subtle body.


Alternate nostril breathing, also known as nadi shodhana or “channel purification,” is a preparatory and key breathing practice to pranayama, or breathwork. Nadi shodhana is one of the most powerful initial yoga exercises for improving focus and deepening relaxation.


This breathwork balances both brain hemispheres, improves the connection between, and with sustained, consistent practice, reduces emotional reactivity.


This pranayama practice is suitable for most everyone and balances Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It is a practice that is particularly helpful in relieving anxiety.


 

"To know about Ayurveda, contact Veenaji at Saumya Ayurveda --because when it comes to our spiritual life, it is emphasized in the ancient texts to consider what you eat, how you eat, as this supports a solid meditation practice.


Being an expert Ayurvedic doctor, and there are now very few, because it requires knowledge of the scriptures, the medicine, but it also requires a great deal of being a sadhaka. Without being a sadhaka, an Ayurvedic physician is not a true physician.


Because the medicine of Ayurveda is not simply medicine, it is much, much more than simply medicine. The name itself says it, Veda, it is the knowledge, wisdom, to know all about Ayu, life.

Life is complicated.


As one example, digestion itself is a very complex process. An Ayurvedic expert not only sees digestion from a physiological perspective, but also from a sadhana point of view.


The personality is another. There are many complex personality traits. Modern medical science cannot explain it, but an Ayurvedic doctor who is an expert--can tell you, for example, Vishuddha chakra needs to be balanced.


When you consult with Veenaji, then your body, mind, and your pranic body operate optimally and your sadhana, your spiritual life and life becomes easier, and your practice becomes enjoyable.”

--Dr. Dabral, Ph.D., Sanskrit


woman practicing systematic relaxation

When to Practice Nadi Shodhana


Nadi shodhana is performed after yog-asanas and relaxation and just before meditation. it is part of preparations for meditation. Nadi shodhana is performed on an empty stomach, at least two hours after the last meal. It is best done before rather than after meals.


woman meditating at lake

How to Practice Nadi Shodhana


Asana


Sit with your head, neck, and trunk in alignment. If you are sitting in a chair, sit such the back is not touching the back rest, so scooch forward on the chair, legs at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor. Settle into your sitting asana (seated posture).


Invitation


Invite the breath to become smooth, deep, even, diaphragmatic, and without pause. If pauses or jerks in the breath are present, simply note it and let it go as in time, with consistent practice, the breath will smooth out.


Vishnu mudra for nadi shodhana practice

Mudra

Form your fingers into Vishnu-mudra by placing the tips of your index and second fingers on the muscle below your thumb. In this position you can alternately open and close your nostrils with a subtle, minimal movement.


An alternative mudra is to place those same fingers against the center between the eyebrows, which leaves your thumb and ring fingers free to operate your nostrils.


With both mudras, gently place the tips of your fingers rest very lightly below the nasal bone (about halfway up your nose). Using this gentle placement, it’s natural and easy to alternate the nostrils with a subtle movement and not compressing the nostrils.


Allow the breath to flow smoothly, evenly, and quietly while performing nadi shodhana.

alternate mudra for nadi shodhana with fingers on forehead

There are ninty six different patterns of nadi shodhana. Below is the suggested pattern. Nadi shodhana always begins by exhaling through the active nostril.


Practice three rounds, alternating the starting nostril each time for a total of 36 breaths. This will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete.


Round one begins by exhaling through the active nostril.

Round two begins by exhaling through the passive nostril.

Round three begins, again, by exhaling through the active nostril.


Advancing Nadi Shodhana Practice


When this practice of nadi shodhana is natural for you, you may continue the pattern and complete three sets of three rounds (108 breaths). This extended practice takes about between 30 and 45 minute.


108 nadi shodhana practice is a very good way to quickly reach a state of very profound mental and physical stillness.


nadi shodhana graphic

Nadi Shodhana Practice Summary:

1. Bring the right hand to the nose, fold the index finger and the middle finger so the right thumb can be used to close the right nostril and the ring finger can be used to close the left nostril (vishnu mudra). Alternatively, you may place the index and middle fingers on the bridge of the nose between the eyes.

2. Close the passive nostril and exhale completely through the active nostril.

3. At the end of the exhalation, close the active nostril and inhale through the passive nostril slowly and completely. Inhalation and exhalation should be of equal duration.

4. Repeat this cycle of exhalation with the active nostril and inhalation with the passive nostril two more times.

5. At the end of the third inhalation with the passive nostril, exhale completely through the same nostril keeping the active nostril closed with the finger.

6. At the end of the exhalation, close the passive nostril and inhale through the active nostril.

7. Repeat two more times the cycle of exhalation through the passive nostril and inhalation through the active nostril.


To Summarize the Pattern:

1. Exhale Active

2. Inhale Passive

3. Exhale Active

4. Inhale Passive

5. Exhale Active

6. Inhale Passive

7. Exhale Passive

8. Inhale Active

9. Exhale Passive

10. Inhale Active

11. Exhale Passive

12. Inhale Active


9. Return your hand to your thigh and exhale and inhale through both nostrils evenly for three complete breaths. This completes ONE cycle or round of the nadi shodhanam practice. It is customary to do three cycles or rounds of the practice.


Note: When practicing three rounds in one sitting, the second of the three rounds begins with the opposite nostril, and the pattern of alternation is therefore the reverse of rounds one and three. The third round is exactly the same as the first round.


Benefits of Nadi Shodhana

  • Reduces ama

  • Increase calm and focus

  • Reduces anxiety

  • Bolsters the nervous system

  • Invigorates the mind increasing clarity and focus

  • Supports healthy hormones

  • Supports healthy respiratory system

  • Helps to alleviate respiratory irritants such as dust, smoke, allergens

  • Balances ida and pingala (solar and lunar, masculine and feminine energies)

  • Balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain

  • Increases oxygenation


dropper bottle of nasya oil

Improve the Prana Flow with Nasya Oil


What is Nasya Oil?


Nasya oil is a therapeutic oil used in Ayurveda to nourish and cleanse the nasal passageways. Nasya oil is used for both Panchakarma (specialized deep cleansing) and Dinacharya (daily routine). Nasya oil is infused with Ayurvedic herbs to balance the doshas, improve the flow of prana, and alleviate a number of mental and physical health ailments.


What is Nasya oil good for?


Nasya oil is good for cleansing and nourishing the nasal passages, which helps prana enter and flow through the body. Oil is also an anuapana, or carrier substance. When applied to sensitive nasal membranes, Ayurvedic herbs in Nasya oil are absorbed deep into the tissue layers.


These Nasya oil benefits make the practice an important part of a comprehensive Ayurvedic treatment plan.


Click here for Nasya Oil Benefits | How to Use Nasya Oil for Greater Wellbeing, everything you need to know about Ayurvedic Nasya treatment – and how it can improve your life. It's much more than a nose oil treatment.


“Your nasya oil treatment really had a strong, positive effect on my life. My mind was racing, and I have been highly stressed for a long time. I did the nasya and suddenly all went quiet. I felt like meditating. Your nasya oil really calmed the mind.” --Anonymous, New Mexico


chalkboard with easy as 1, 2, 3

There is a saying, "The mind is more in the body, than the body is in the mind." The Saumya 3 step meditation process shifts us from fight-flight-freeze mode, to rest-restore-relax mode. Give it a try for forty days and observe the changes. The more grounded and relaxed we are, the smoother life flows.


"The breath is the connection between the mind and body, so by training the breath, we become calm, focused, and grounded, we slow down the aging process by decreasing stress. These practices are so simple and easy to have as part of our daily life. We actually feel and look younger."

- Veena, Saumya Ayurveda


1. Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life. When we re-learn to breath diaphragmatically, we move from the flight-fight-freeze mode, to rest, restore, relaxation mode from where we want and need to live.


2. Daily Guided Practices: 11 minutes in the morning and in the evening, as anchors of your daily Ayurveda routine.



"Choose a couple of practices from the routines that provide you with the greatest support. Perform them while applying our two minute meditation technique and your mundane tasks, just transformed into a mellifluous meditation. This is meditation applied to daily life."

- Veena, Saumya Ayurveda


The Benefits of Nadi Shodhana: Alternate Nostril Breathwork Guide is a tool to add to your lifestyle today.

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“I feel greatly improved. Stress fell off like an old hairy coat. I’m just not anxious. Depression is way decreased. I was haunted by anxiety my whole life, and it’s just gone. The mudra, mantra...WOW. This is so cool! I have regained hope. Something wonderful is taking place. You and your knowledge come to me after a lifetime of searching and prayer. I am forever grateful.” Mark Hughes, Minnesota

 

“Veena was able to help me regain my energy in just a few months and I’m feeling like my “young” self again!

I love the food plan she designed for me, and all the supporting practices (am/pm routines, breathing techniques, herbs, and spice mixes) are so enjoyable to incorporate into my day. I highly recommend Saumya Ayurveda if you want to feel better and have more vitality.” -Molly Rossini, Minnesota

 

Veena has helped me several times at various stages of my life to rebalance my doshas, and to bring me back to greater vitality. Veena’s herbal protocols and food recommendations are easy to follow and effective.


Combined with her beautifully guided relaxation and meditation practices, Veena offers a truly holistic to achieving and maintaining harmony in body, mind, and spirit—and living more peacefully and joyfully in an increasingly more erratic world.”

-Gabrielle Allen, California


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Discover the Saumya Ayurveda Way

Nadi Shodhana: Alternate Nostril Breathwork Guide, use our guide daily, keep a journal to track your experience, and see what changes for you.


We all want to be heard, understood, and cared for as whole beings, not a set of isolated symptoms. True health is more than the absence of disease, which is why Western medicine so often leaves us feeling hopeless and unseen.


Deep down, you already know what you’re searching for: a new framework for living – one that brings your entire being back into balance. With Saumya Ayurveda, you’ll receive individualized guidance to create the physically, mentally, and spiritually vibrant life you crave.


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Veena at Saumya Ayurveda

Veena is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and meditation teacher, and monk.


She is President Emeritus and teaching faculty of the Meditation Center.


Veena fell in love with the traditional medicine used in her family’s home, learning herbal remedies at her grandmother's knee.


These childhood experiences were the seeds of a lifelong passion. For over 30 years, Veena has dedicated her life to the world’s oldest healing system: Ayurveda.


She draws on this ancient wisdom to help others find their compass to a healthy life – and support those left wanting by Western medicine.


An experienced Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Veena’s deep, intuitive knowledge of Ayurveda empowers her clients to reclaim their fullest, most vibrant lives –mentally, physically, and spiritually. Veena individualizes treatment plans to each person, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach, so it fits your life and becomes woven in your lifestyle, naturally.

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