What is Alternate Nostril Breathing Pranayama? How to do this technique aka Nadi Shodhan pranayama? In this modern world, time is of the essence…
We try to manage our time as effectively as we could, but due to the many distractions, our schedules often leave us with very little time to rest. This causes stress. Wouldn’t it be great if we can use just a fraction of our rest time to calm our minds and ease our worries to prepare ourselves for the stresses that come with the daily work grind? Something that can be done in just a few minutes, like Pranayama breathing exercise?
Pranayama Breathing Exercise: How It Works
Pranayama breathing exercise also goes by the following names: nadi shodhan, anulom vilom, or alternate nostril breathing. Yoga and meditation practitioners from ancient Eastern civilizations have been aware of its benefits, but it’s only a few decades ago that the rest of the world began to acknowledge its powers.
It is common knowledge that we breathe through our nostrils. However, some people are not aware that most of the time, we breathe through one nostril at a time. Why? It’s because when we breathe, one nostril becomes enlarged, putting pressure on the other nostril. This goes on for about three hours. Then, we breathe on both nostrils for a couple of minutes, then on one nostril again.
But how does Pranayama breathing exercise work? What effect does it have on the body?
To understand this, we need to know how the brain works with the nostrils.
The nostrils are directly connected to the brain. The left nostril is connected to the right hemisphere while the right nostril, to the brain’s left hemisphere.
The right hemisphere, known in Sanskrit as Ida, is lunar, soothing and calming. Its function, aside from controlling the parts of the left side of the body, is to perform tasks associated with creativity and the arts. It calms the mind and body. Whereas Pingala, the left hemisphere, is solar, energizing and masculine. It directs the actions of the right side of the body and carries out tasks that require logic, math, and science. Both Ida and Pingala are two of the most important nadis that carry the prana (breath).
Sometimes, these nadis get blocked due to unhealthy lifestyle, mental, emotional and physical stress. According to The Art of Living, “When the Ida nadi is not functioning smoothly or is blocked, one experiences cold, depression, low mental energy and sluggish digestion, blocked left nostril. Whereas when thePingala nadi is not smoothly functioning or is blocked, one will experience heat, quick temper and irritation, itching body, dry skin and throat, excessive appetite, excessive physical or sexual energy, and blocked right nostril.”
By consciously alternating breathing, you can control your bodily reactions. Stressed and need to calm down? Or tired but still need to work? Do Pranayama breathing exercise. Here’s Yogatailor’s infographic to guide you.