Most people know that yoga involves physical discipline. But the physical aspect isn't all that defines yoga. Mental and spiritual discipline are also integral to your yoga practice. Without these disciplines, your practice isn't complete. The challenge is bringing all three together in harmony. And Pranayama — the practice of deep breathing in yoga — is crucial to helping you get there. So today we want to focus on Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, to help you with your meditation.
Before you begin this breathing exercise, get into a comfortable seated position, sitting up tall through your spine. You can use a cushion if that's more comfortable for you.
Once you've found a comfortable seat, you'll begin by taking your right hand, and bringing your pointer and middle finger to your third eye chakra (on your forehead between your eyebrows). Take a deep breath in and place your thumb over the right side of your nose, gently pressing your right nostril closed.
Now exhale through your left nostril, and inhale through the left. Now you're going to switch. Close your left nostril and exhale through the right, then inhale through the right, switch and repeat.
Alternate nostril breathing has a calming effect that helps you focus inward. It's a recommended practice for anxiety and insomnia. Sometimes, you may find that one of your nasal passages is blocked when you try this breathing technique. If this exercise begins to cause you stress, whether it's because you're having a hard time breathing or you simply can't keep up with which nostril you're pressing, just give it a break. Meditation shouldn't be stressful.
Never hesitate to ask us if you have any questions. We're happy to help and share our own experiences with you.
But you don't have to wait until you get to Retreat Yoga & Wellness Studio to try alternate nostril breathing. You could do it for five minutes at any point during the day when you need a moment of calm. Treat not just your body, but also your mind, with love and respect. You deserve it.