Nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing is a type of pranayama. It helps soothe and calm the nervous system, support respiratory health, and promote improved oxygen flow. Here’s how to practice nadi shodhana:
Find a comfortable seated position on a chair or on your yoga mat. Sit tall, lengthen the spine, and open the chest. Take a few breaths, in through the nose and out through the nose. Then, feel the natural rhythm of your inhalations and exhalations.
When you are ready to begin your breathing exercise, connect your right elbow to your right ribcage. Then, open up your right palm and draw your ring finger, middle finger, and forefinger in. Keep your thumb and your pinky finger out.
To begin, press your right thumb against your right nostril. This will block any passage of air to and from your right nostril. Inhale deeply and fully through your left nostril. Then, hold the breath and seal your left nostril with your right pinky finger.
Next, release your right thumb from the right nostril and exhale completely. Then, inhale again deeply through the right nostril. Hold the breath. Seal the right nostril with your right thumb, then release your right pinky finger from the left nostril. Exhale through the left nostril. At the bottom of your exhalation, inhale once again.
Continue this same pattern, alternating between your nostrils across your inhalations and exhalations. Try to let the breath be fuller and deeper every time, feeling each nostril breathe in more and more oxygen every time. Take time as you exhale too, allowing your body to empty itself of carbon dioxide and any toxins.
Stay here and continue this for a few minutes. Finally, when you are ready to end your pranayama practice, release your palm back down to the side. Notice the renewed and rejuvenated flow in your breath. Lastly, take a few rounds of natural, normal-paced breathing, before opening your eyes.