For breath is life, and if you breathe right you will live long. (Sanskrit proverb)
Ants have it, and also plants; clouds have it, but also the heart. It makes flowers open, babies smile, the earth quake, and lightning to bolt.
What is this mysterious thing that makes everything move?
Prana is all the energy in the entire universe, sometimes subtle, sometimes solid. It is a many-layered Sanskrit word that not only means breath, but the energy behind the breath. It is the life-giving, life-breathing, life-generating cosmic force of creation that pervades the universe.
So Pranayama is not about simply exercising your lungs, but to become one with the universal breath, the universal energy. This then awakens the universal energy within you.
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) technique is an easy but powerful mechanism to instantly soothe anxious energy and lead your mind to peace by balancing the oxygen levels between the right and the left hemispheres of your brain.
- Sit comfortably in a straight-backed posture, or lie down flat on your back
- Exhale deeply, emptying out all the air from your lungs
- Lightly block your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand and inhale deeply through your left nostril
- With your breath in your lungs, block your left nostril with your ring finger and hold your breath in for a few seconds
- Release your thumb and exhale fully through your right nostril
- After a pause, inhale deeply through your open right nostril and fill your lungs
- Now block your right nostril lightly and hold your breath
- Release your ring finger on your left nostril, and let your breath out fully
The 8 steps above makes one complete cycle of Nadi Shodhana breath.
When you’re just beginning any kind of a new breathing technique, start slow, maybe 3 cycles the first time, 5 cycles the second time, and so on. Work your way up to 9 cycles per sitting.
Nadi Shodhana (also called Anuloma Viloma) is a deeply relaxing technique that can be used any time you’re feeling anxious, or if you’re having trouble falling asleep, or prior to your meditation to help enhance your practice. Make it a daily practice, and you’ll notice long-lasting benefits in your health and energy.