Alternate Nostril Breathing, also known as Nadi Sodhan Pranayam, is a super simple and powerful technique to create a deep sense of well-being and harmony on the physical, mental, and emotional levels. And that’s exactly what each of us needs right now with the onset of the Coronavirus. Breath exercises are integrating and grounding, while this particular exercise, Alternate Nostril Breathing also balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain. In fact, the energy of the nervous system is directly proportional to one’s breathing.
Ancient yogic texts explain that the nostril on the right is our sun nostril and it controls our energy level. The benefits brought forth from our right nostril is warming, vigor, concentration, alertness, action orientated, and will power.
On the other side, our left nostril is our lunar nostril and it controls our emotions. The benefits of performing this breathing technique from the left nostril can bring a cleansing energy, calmness, empathy and positive sensitivity.
So if you find yourself tired, breathing long and deep through the right nostril will give you added energy while breathing through the left nostril will bring calmness.
When performing the Alternate Nostril Breathing the long deep breaths the calm, sooth and energize the entire nervous system. All it takes is just 3 to 5 minutes, no more no less and it can be repeated periodically throughout the day. It’s wonderful to add into your morning and evening routines.
The ancient yogis taught that if you can learn to regulate the way you breathe, you can gain greater control over your mind. One of the many yogi goals of breathing techniques associated with meditation.
Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing:
1. Improve respiratory health
When practicing this technique we use deep, slow breathing and access the full capacity of the lungs. The pulse rate and respiratory rate have been shown to decrease significantly following just a few weeks of daily Alternate Nostril Breathing.
2. Improve cardiovascular health & Revitalize the Body
The slow breathing technique can reduce the systolic and diastolic blood pressure immediately after one session. This is a result of triggering the parasympathetic nervous system, causing the blood vessels to relax and widen.
3. Reduce stress and anxiety & Sooth the Nerves
Balancing the activity between your left and right nostrils brings your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems into equilibrium. And it also helps alleviate overactive stress response.
4. Reduce worry and rumination
By keeping the attention on the breath, we take a break from the mind and thinking on thoughts which have great concerns. Thus, it is helpful in reducing simply repetitively going over a thought or a problem.
5. Enhanced Mental Function
Alternate nostril breathing helps sharpen your concentration and mental clarity even when you feel your mind is sluggish.
How to Perform Alternate Nostril Breathing:
- Posture: Sit with a straight spine. You may be in Easy Pose or on a chair, wherever you can keep your spine straight and be comfortable.
- Mudra and Breath: Using the thumb and index fingers of the right hand, make a “U” of the two fingers, using the thumb to close off the right nostril and the index finger to close off the left nostril. The breath is always relaxed, deep and full.
- Close the left nostril, inhale deeply through the right nostril. At the end of the inhale, close the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril.
- Now inhale through the left nostril fully and deeply, then close the left nostril and exhale through the right one.
- Again, inhale through the right nostril and continue alternate nostril breathing. The breath must be complete and full on both the inhalation and exhalation cycles.
- Time: Continue for 3 – 5 minutes.
- Optional Mantra: Inhale Sat. Exhale Naam. Chanting the mantra, Sat Nam, awakens your soul and gives you your destiny. Sat means Truth or the reality of one’s existence. Nam means name or identity. It instantly attunes us to our highest self. Sat Nam affirms that Truth is our Identity. Sat Nam is a bij mantra, a seed sound. Within the seed is all the knowledge of the fully grown tree. Bij mantras are sounds that rearrange the habit patterns of the subconscious mind.
To End: Inhale deeply, hold the breath a few seconds, lower the hand, and exhale.
Try incorporating Alternate Nostril Breathing into your morning and evening routines for the long term benefits associated with your mental, emotional, and wellness. Sat Nam!
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