Balancing Breath

Balancing Breath

Interested in feeling more balanced? See how you feel after practicing this breathing technique call nadi shodhana–a daily practice is recommend. Nadi shodhana, also known as alternate nostril breath or sun-moon breath, literally means “purifying the energy channels.” The left nostril represents the moon, or yin, side of the body, which relates to cooling, receiving, and inward-focused feminine energy. The right nostril represents the sun, or yang, side of the body, which relates to warming, giving, and outward-focused masculine energy. This exercise balances the right and left sides of the brain, calms the nervous system, and draws deeper awareness within.

Preparatory Technique:

  • To begin the practice of nadi shodhana, find a comfortable seat; hold your spine and head upright.
  • Bend the first two fingers of your right hand into the palm.
  • Use your ring finger to regulate the passage of air through the left nostril; use your thumb to regulate the passage of air through the right nostril.
  • Exhale through both nostrils; make each breath slow and deliberate, ideally with little to no sound.
  • Imagine there is a dandelion seed head placed directly underneath your nose: as you inhale, avoid breathing the seeds into your nose; as you exhale, avoid blowing the seeds away.

Breath Technique One:

  • Practice this technique using your normal breathing; be aware of each breath.
  • Relax; do not control your inhalations/exhalations or force them to go deeper than usual; your respiration rate is normal.
  • Seal off your right nostril with your thumb; inhale through the left nostril.
  • Exhale through your left nostril; repeat your inhale and exhale through the left nostril, taking five complete breaths.
  • Seal off your left nostril with the ring finger; inhale through the right nostril.
  • Exhale through your right nostril; repeat your inhale and exhale through the right nostril, taking five complete breaths.
  • Remove your hand and relax it into your lap; take five more breaths through both nostrils.
  • This constitutes one round; repeat the above steps and practice five more rounds of breathing for three to five minutes.

Breath Technique Two:

  • Practice this breath with a 1:1 breath ratio; start with a moderate breath rhythm; use four-count inhalation and four-count exhalation.
  • Seal off your right nostril with the thumb; inhale slowly through your left nostril.
  • Seal off your left nostril with the ring finger; exhale slowly through your right nostril.
  • Inhale through your right nostril.
  • Reseal your right nostril; exhale through the left nostril.
  • Finish each round by exhaling through your left nostril; beginning and ending your breathing practice this way neutralizes any excess heat that may accumulate in your body.
  • This constitutes one round; repeat the above steps and practice five more rounds of breathing for three to five minutes.

Below is a video of Anna and Noah practicing alternate nostril breath for your viewing enjoyment.

Anna Ferguson is the co-creator of World Peace Yoga, a style of yoga that inspires peace in action, developing intuition, deepening empathy, and expanding compassion. Subscribe to the Heärt TV YouTube channel and check out the “Little Buddha Series” for inspiration from Anna and her son Noah. You may also connect with Anna via Facebook.

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