Our world has been in new territory as of late. We are in the middle of a horrific pandemic that has been new to us all, and it has certainly caused some anxiety, stress and fear, among many other emotions. In moments on anxiety and unrest, I try my best to simply breath. It can certainly be easier said than done, but there are many different breathing techniques that can be used to help you relax, "quiet" your mind or recenter in a meditation, or simply to take you through a yoga practice. Out of all of the techniques out there, alternate nostril breathing is one of my all time favorites!
Alternate nostril breathing (or in Sanskrit, Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, which means to clear the energy channels of the body ), is a technique used to relax the mind, body and even emotions. There are many benefits to alternate nostril breathing, but here are just a handful:
•It reduces stress and calms the nervous system
•Helps to settle and focus your mind
•Supports and enhances respiratory function
•Can help to reduce and get rid of a headache
•And research has shown that it can improve cardiovascular function by lowering heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate
So how do you actually do alternate nostril breathing? And for how long?
Below I have posted a video that will demonstrate how to do alternate nostril breath, and we perform the breath for several minutes. However, even just a few minutes of alternate nostril breathing can be very beneficial.
Step 1: Sit in a comfortable seated position and take a few normal breaths. I love to sit on a bolster or pillow in a cross legged position. I even put on a comfortable pair of socks to keep my feet warm!
Step 2: Take your right hand (you can rest your left palm down on your lap) and make a little hang loose symbol, but keep your ring finger extended too. We are going to be using our thumb and ring finger for this technique.
Step 3: Place your thumb on your right nostril, pressing it so your right nostril seals, and you can only breath through your left nostril. Take a long and steady inhale through your left nostril.
Step 4: Hold your breath at the top for a moment. Then seal your left nostril with your ring finger, and release your thumb from your right nostril. Exhale the air out of your right nostril.
Step 5: Inhale through your right nostril. Pause at the top of the breath. Then seal your right nostril with your thumb, release your left nostril, and exhale through your left nostril.
Step 6: Inhale through your left nostril. Hold it and pause. Seal your left nostril, release your right, and exhale through your right.
Step 7: Repeat steps 3-6 for as many rounds as you would like.
This is a fantastic breath to also use a few minutes before you have an interview, a presentation, or maybe even when waiting at your dentists office for a filling!