Stress takes its toll on us little by little, then seemingly all at once. Day by day our busy schedules, and too much to do, takes its toll on our minds, body, breathing, and energy. and stress can cause pain, aches, insomnia, anxiety, depression, poor eating choices, and hosts of other issues.
The yoga traditions have a breathing technique known as “Alternate Nostril Breathing” that helps relax the body and restore energy and balance in just a few moments a day. Today, yoga wellness coach Kaamini Patel shows us how to do it and incorporate this amazing exercise into our day.
Alternate Nostril Breathing Benefits
Alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhan pranayama) is a safe and simple meditative breathing exercise that one can do in short time for big results. This yogic method helps to calm the mind, open the congested energy centers, restore normal breathing and muscle tension.
According to yoga teachings, this deep, slow and rhythmic breathing method helps to regulate respiration, balancing right and left brain hemispheres. It helps to calm the mind and balance thoughts and emotions. Practice induces deep relaxation that reduces internal physical and psychological stress thereby normalizing blood pressure. Daily practice can reduce headaches, overcome insomnia and work toward reducing anxiety and depression.
Make a mudra (hand shape) with your left hand by connecting your index finger and thumb. Rest your hand, palm up, on your left thigh.
Open your right hand and depress your right nostril with your thumb.
Place your middle finger of your right hand on your third eye, the space between your eyebrows. Massage the third eye (which is related to the pituitary gland), several times by moving the finger up and down. This opens the energy chakra and channels of the head and mind, which get blocked and congested from stress and worry. Do this each morning to help energize your body.
Alternate Nostril Breathing Method
The exercise works by alternating which nostril is inhaling and which is exhaling, and the changing the order each time.
Keeping your hands where they are, begin by inhaling deeply and then slowly breathing out through your left nostril.
Now breathe in through your lefty nostril, use your right pinky finger to close the left nostril so that both nostrils are closed. Now take your thumb off the right nostril to open it and exhale fully through the right nostril.
Be sure to lengthen your spine upward while taking in a nice deep inhalation through the right nostril. Close your right nostril with your thumb again so that both nostrils are sealed. After a moment, move your pinky and breathe out through your left nostril.
Practice three times a day to begin; 1 minutes in the morning, 1 minute in the afternoon, 1 minute in the evening. Two minutes art bedtime will help you sleep like a baby. Give this simple alternate nostril breathing exercise a try for a month and see what changes you feel during that time. Once you experience it, you can reduced the frequency of practice and use it as a technique to find balance at any time you need it.