Nadi Shodhan Pranayama is a yogic breathing technique which helps to calm and centre the mind, to keep it happy, relaxed and peaceful and rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit – incredibly useful for PTSD sufferers.
It’s said that a few minutes of this alternate nostril breathing each day helps to de-stress and release accumulated tension and fatigue by lowering your heart rate. As you shift your focus between your left and right nostrils, your mind naturally becomes more centered and focused. It can clear out blocked energy channels in the body and harmonize the left and right hemispheres of the brain – both of which can reduce anxiety levels.
In yoga, it is believed that by practicing this, you will cleanse and purify the ‘nadis’, which will allow for a smoother flow of “prana,” (meaning, “life force energy”) throughout the body, mind, and spirit. ‘When prana becomes unbalanced, due to mental and physical stress, the nadis become blocked, which can lead to illness and disease. Keeping the nadis cleansed will lead to overall wellness and peace in all areas of life’ – very useful for anyone with PTSD!
How to do Alternate Nostril Breathing
Begin in a comfortable sitting position. Soften your jaw and breathe naturally. Keep your eyes closed throughout and continue taking long, deep, smooth breaths without any force or effort.
- With your right hand, bend your index and middle fingers, keeping your ring finger, pinkie finger, and thumb extended. Place the fingers very lightly on the forehead and nose. There is no need to apply any pressure.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb.
- Inhale deeply through your left nostril. Do not breathe from the mouth or make any sound while breathing.
- At the top of your inhalation, close your left nostril with your right ring finger as you release the right nostril.
- Exhale through your right nostril. Your exhalation should be longer than inhalation.
- Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale deeply through your right nostril.
- Seal your right nostril again with your thumb, then release your left nostril.
- Exhale out of your left nostril. You should now be in the original position, with your thumb sealing your right nostril. This is one cycle.
- Balance your inhalations and exhalations so they are the same length through both nostrils.
- Repeat up to 10 full cycles, gradually increasing the number of repetitions as you gain experience.
Keep your eyes closed throughout and continue taking long, deep, smooth breath without any force or effort. Don’t hold your breathe at any point if you have high blood pressure, or any respiratory diseases. You should always stop immediately if you become dizzy or faint. If you have any concerns about practising yoga, you should speak to your GP.
Don’t push yourself with this exercise, if your breath becomes difficult or if you start feeling anxious, stop the exercise and return to your normal breathing before you attempt it again.
IMAGE: Breathe by hilectric