Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. (nah-dee show-DAH-nah)
nadi = channel
shodhana = cleaning, purifying
Nadi Shodhana Step-by-Step
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
Contraindications and Cautions
- Approach the practice of all bandhas and body mudras cautiously, especially without the direct guidance of an experienced teacher
- 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