Lesson Learned: Nadi Shodhana

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Can be practiced at the beginning, middle or end of class.BKS Iyengar

The Intention

To teach alternate nostril breathing and its benefits.


Nadi Shodhana – Alternate Nostril Breathing


In pranayama or yoga breathing exercises, we seek to control prana — the vital energy within us.  There are over 72,000 nadis or subtle energy channels in our body where prana moves.  If the nadis are blocked, prana can’t move freely through the body, consciousness is inhibited and it’s difficult to attain meaning from our daily lives.

This can result in all the manifestations of suffering: ditraction, dullness, anger, fear, anxiety.  But as the nadis are purified — cleansed — prana can travel freely and consciousness is awakened.

Nadi shodhana is a breathing exercise that helps purify the nadis, focusing most directly on the two main nadis, the pingala and the ida.  Pingala ends at the right nostril; ida ends at the left.

Pingala — the right nostril, embodies the sun and has a heating effect on the body.  It’s linked to left brain function and is associated with active external energy, intellectual pursuits and rational reasoning.  When this nostril is open, it’s good for taking a math test, making a sales presentation, even digesting food.

Ida — the left nostril, represents the moon and has a cooling effect on the body.  This is linked to internal energy and the right side of the brain.  It’s connected to imagination, intuitive thinking and subjective decisions.  When this nostril is open, it’s great for creative thinking, poetry, writing, listening to music or painting.

In nadi shodhana, we alternate our breath between the right and left nostrils seeking to balance the energies of the sun and the moon.  When the nadis are cleared and energies are balanced, prana can flow more smoothly.

Let’s try one round together.


  1. Sit in a comfortable seated position, head neck and trunk in alignment.
  2. Breathe into each nostril separately to see which one is flowing more smoothly.  Chances are, you will have an active nostril and a passive nostril.
  3. Begin your practice on your active side.
  4. Establish a natural diaphragmatic breath.
  • Bring the right hand to the nose, folding the index finger and middle finger so that the right thumb can be used to close the right nostril and the right finger can be used to close the left nostril (Vishnu Mudra) Inhale through the nostrils
  • Close the passive nostril and exhale through the active nostril.
  • Inhale through the active nostril slowly and completely.
  • At the end of inhalation, close the active nostril and exhale and inhale through the passive nostril slowly and completely.
  • Repeat this cycleo f exhaling and inhaling two more times.
  • At the end of the final inhalation on the passive nostril, exhale through both nostrils and take three very deep breaths.  This completes one round.
Image

Each nostril relates to different physiological aspects of our being.

  1. Practice nadi shodhana anytime you need to quiet and calm the mind.  Alternate nostril breathing is recommended twice a day.  Try it once and you’ll feel the effects immediately.
  2. Alternate nostril breathing is also beneficial for insomnia and a common remedy for headaches.

about the lesson learned series

Our blog series entitled Lesson Learned is designed from a teachers perspective. We see so much, feel so much and have learned so much. This is our sharing ground from the front of the room.

If you would like to read more from this series, please click here: http://yogasamatva.com/?s=lesson+learned

The light and love in me bows to the light and love in you.
Om. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.

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