Finding Balance With Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Nadi Shodhana, or “alternate nostril breathing,” is a simple yet effective technique that settles the mind, body, and emotions. Nadi means channel and Shodhana means purification in Sanskrit. With just a few minutes of alternate nostril breathing, you can restore balance in the mind and body.

Whether you’re nervous about a project or presentation at work, or find yourself stuck in a loop going over an uncomfortable situation in your mind, Nadi Shodhana is a quick and calming way to bring you back into balance.

Nasal Cycles
Nasal airflow is greater in one nostril than in the other because the tissue lining in one nostril congests and closes while the other opens. The extent of obstruction alternates across nostrils anything between every 30 minutes to 4 hours. The ideal is considered 90 minutes. The interior of the nose is covered with erectile tissue, the same tissue that covers the penis, clitoris and nipples so when one nostril is erect, it opens and invites greater airflow.

The right nostril is like a gas pedal and when it is erect and you are inhaling primarily through this channel then your circulation speeds up, you feel warmer, cortisol levels and blood pressure increase - all necessary functions when you need to be alert and deal with a pressurised or stressful situation. The right nostril is connected with your sympathetic nervous system.

The left nostril is like a break pedal - it calms you down, slows the breathing, cools you and lowers blood pressure. The left nostril is connected with the parasympathetic nervous system.

Yogic Outlook on Nasal Cycles

Nasal cycles were first discovered in the west by a German physician called Richard Kayser in 1895. Ancient yogic texts, such as Shiva Svarodaya have described the shifting of the flow of energy and that it can be noted in the nostrils. The Yogic texts describe sympathetic and the parasympathetic states as Ida and Pingala, the description is a lot more poetic but the premise is the same.

Ida Nadi

The current of energy ending in the left nostril is cooling, like the moon; it is associated with the cognitive senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing), and with refuelling and replenishment. Feminine in character, it denotes inward, nurturing energy.

Pingala Nadi

Pingala energy is warming like the sun. Associated with the active senses (locomotion, manipulation, communication, elimination, reproduction), and with growth and expansion, this masculine energy is all about dynamic motion and outward expansion.

One isn't superior to other. Just like heat isn't superior to cold and night isn't superior to day - we need balance and equilibrium to exist in harmony. When harmony is out of alignment we suffer, we get ill, we get sad.

Practice Nadi Shodhana daily to foster balance and equilibrium in the body and mind.

I have created a brand new section on my site called Cultivating Resilience in Mind and Body. Here, you will be able to find guided breathing meditations, movement techniques and much more to help you achieve harmony in mind and body! (This is FREE as part of the Unlimited Monthly Membership)


The Yoke Wellness Ambassador,

Sabina Ahmadov


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