Channel-Cleaning Breath

Sometimes considered a preparation for pranayama, other times a formal practice in itself.
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Sometimes considered a preparation for pranayama, other times a formal practice in itself.
sleep_268_14_Siddhasana-sukhasana-meditation

(nah-dee show-DAH-nah)
nadi = channel
shodhana = cleaning, purifying

Step by Step

Step 1

Sit in a comfortable asana and make Mrigi Mudra. Beginning pranayama students may have some difficulty holding their raised arm in position for the length of the practice. You can put a bolster across your legs and use it to support your elbow.

Step 2

Gently close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through your left nostril, then close it with your ring-little fingers. Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril.

Step 3

Keep the right nostril open, inhale, then close it, and open and exhale slowly through the left. This is one cycle. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then release the hand mudra and go back to normal breathing. (NOTE: some yoga schools begin this sequence by first closing the left nostril and inhaling through the right; this order is prescribed in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, 2.7-10).

Step 4

Traditionally Nadi Shodhana includes breath retention, fixed ratio breathing, and the repetition of certain "seed" mantras (cf. Gheranda Samhita 5.38-54). For beginning pranayama students, it's best to focus only on the inhales and exhales.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Pose Level

1

Contraindications and Cautions

  • Approach the practice of all bandhas and body mudras cautiously, especially without the direct guidance of an experienced teacher

Preparatory Poses

Follow-up Poses

Benefits

  • Lowers heart rate and reduces stress and anxiety
  • Said to synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain
  • Said to purify the subtle energy channels (nadis) of the body so the prana flows more easily during pranayama practice