I first learnt about alternate nostril breathing in India when I did my yoga teacher training. We learnt all kinds of breathing techniques, but this was definitely one that stuck with me the most as I could instantly feel the benefits after practising it. Another name for alternate nostril is Nadi Shodhana, which is the Sanskrit translation.
Why is it good?
Our right nostril connects with our masculine side. It's the practical, mathematical pathway, that keeps us alert and energised in flight or flight mode. Our left nostril is linked to our feminine side. It triggers our rest and relax response and is our more creative and emotional side. The aim of alternate nostril breathing is to create a balance between both sides so that they become as equal as can be. Whether you are feeling a little wired and jumpy or a little lethargic in need of energy, then this exercise should help bring a little harmony.
WHEN TO PRACTICE
I usually practice alternate nostril breathing first thing in a morning when I wake up. I always tend to feel most anxious first thing in the morning for some reason.
However, if you get half way through your day and start feel a bit icky, then you can take a ten-minute time out and practice it then. Just make sure you can find somewhere quiet where you are unlikely to be disturbed. You can be sitting or standing. Inside or outside. I've practiced in the doctor's waiting room, in the car during my son's footie practice and even in a public toilet!
How to do it
1. Sit in a comfy position or stand if you prefer
2. Make a fist with your right hand, then separate your thumb and little finger and hold them in the air
3. Use your thumb to cover your right nostril and exhale completely out of your left nostril
4. Then breathe in through your left nostril, hold the breathe and cover that nostril with your little finger
5. Exhale completely our of your right nostril and then inhale through your right nostril
6. Cover your right nostril with your thumb again and exhale out of your left.
7. Once you are in a rhythm, close both your eyes and keep alternating your inhale and exhale
8. I usually practice about around 25 rounds through each nostril.
INHALE through one nostril...
EXHALE through the other....