In our hectic and busy lives, often the last thing we think of is getting back to balance using our breath.
Most of us start our day off with an imbalance between left and right brain.Often one side is more active then the other. You may also translate these hemispheres
Ida and Pingala
Having one side more active then the other throughout the day is perfectly normal. In fact, if you pay attention to your breath, you will notice that at different times during the day, or during different activities, you will predominantly breathe through one nostril over the other. In a healthy person, the rhythm of breath and dominant side of brain and nostril activity changes about every 90 minutes.
The right and left sides of our brain govern different processes, thoughts, emotions.
The Right Brain
The right brain is responsible for qualities that are also often associated with yin, Ida, or a female qualities:
The Left Brain
The left brain is associated with what we commonly perceive as yang, Pingala, or male, qualities:
You can check which side is more active by holding your index finger, or the back of your hand under your nose and, with your mouth closed, notice which nostril you exhale out of.
Even though a switch between left and right is normal, you can balance you breath, and with that creating more balance between your left and right brain, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, with a regular practice of alternate nostril breathing.
How to Perform Nadi Shodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breathing
Using the help of your ring finger and thumb to close off the left or right nostril respectively, allowing you to only inhale and exhale through one nostril at a time.
To begin sit with your head, neck and spine erect but still relaxed.
Take a deep inhale and exhale through both nostrils.
Use your right hand and close your right nostril with your thumb.
Inhale slowly and gently through your left nostril.
After the full inhalation, release the right nostril and close the left nostril with your ring finger.
Exhale slowly and gently out of your right nostril.
Then inhale slowly and gently back through the right nostril.
After the full inhalation, close the right nostril with your thumb and exhale back out of the left nostril slowly and gently.
This would be one round of alternate nostril breathing. You would typically do between five and ten rounds in one sitting.
Why Practice Nadi Shodhana?
As mentioned before, this is an incredibly balancing breathing technique, or Pranayama. It balances your life force, Prana, making for a more even energy flow throughout the day.
Nadi Shodhana is said to purify the subtle energy channels in the body, the Nadis. Some say that ere are 72,000 nadis in total.
Alternate Nostril breathing purifies the chest region.
Nadi Shodhana calms the mind, and since it has neither a heating or cooling effect, also balances all three doshas.
You should never force your breath. If you find yourself having a cold, being a little stuffed up, you may consider flushing your nose using a Neti Pot, but don’t force your breath through a stuffy nose. Go back to this practice when you can breath clearly again.