A wise yoga therapist once said to me: “Why spend money on expensive facials, when you can just practice Nadi Shodhana?” Well, obviously she was joking to an extent, but that statement has some merit to it - and I’ll get into why, in this post.
Nadi (meaning energy channel) Shodhana (meaning purification), which is also known as alternate nostril breathing, is a yogic breathing technique used to clear blocked energy channels within our bodies. It’s a breathing technique that has been practiced by yogis for thousands of years!
Energy blockages in our bodies are caused by stress and anxiety, unprocessed emotions (such as trauma), and toxicity build up (from foods, self-care products and other elements in our environment). When we have energy blockages, we tend to experience weakened immune systems and feelings of lethargy and irritability.
It has been said that by practicing Nadi Shodhana, it’ll help to lower heart rate, balance both hemispheres of the brain, improve circulatory and respiratory issues, while releasing tension and fatigue. Thus, allowing prana (life force/breath), to flow effortlessly throughout our bodies. In turn, we may live a more harmonious life by feeling safe and grounded, confident and content, healthy, energized and balanced.
So if you feel those anxious feelings creeping up, or just feeling overwhelmed and fatigued - give Nadi Shodhana a try! This breathing technique can be used as a precursor to your yoga practice and meditation, however, it is advised not to practice it during a flow.
How to practice Alternate Nostril Breathing:
Blow your nose to clear any blockages before beginning this exercise.
Find a comfortable spot to sit with your spine upright, legs crossed and palms gently resting on your knees.
Relax your shoulders, and release tension in the brows and jaw.
Once you’re comfortably seated and relaxed - take three deep breaths.
Next, bring your right hand to your face, placing the index and middle finger gently in the middle of your forehead- allowing your ring finger and pinky to relax on the side of your left nostril, and the thumb to relax on the side of your right nostril.
Close your right nostril with your thumb and slowly inhale with your left nostril.
Close your left nostril with your ring finger — exhale slowly through your right nostril (hence, alternate nostril breathing!). This concludes the first round.
Continue by slowly inhaling through the right nostril, then closing it with your thumb.
Exhale slowly through your left nostril, then inhale through the same nostril, and so on. You’ll know you’re doing it right when you experience a cooling sensation.
Repeat for approximately 5-10 rounds, until you can work up to practicing it for a few minutes.
So, back to why this is better than facials: Nadi Shodhana is a deep breathing technique that not only releases energy blockages in our bodies brought on by stress and environmental elements, but it increases blood flow to the face with oxygenated blood — bringing life and colour back into the skin! The takeaway: just breathe.
That’s my healing hint of the day!