There are days when it seems that I will always be stressed out and on edge. When I recognize that I'm at this point, I know that I need to step back for a moment. An easy way to reduce stress and find balance is to take a few minutes to practice the Alternate Nostril Breathing pranayama. Nadi Shodhana is the correct term, but most people know it by the descriptive term, for breathing though alternate nostrils is exactly what the practice is.
Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing to Reduce Stress & Find Balance
It may sound weird, but this technique actually does a few things to the body.
- By focusing solely on the breath, your mind is shifted to the present moment.
- Breathing through one nostril slows down the inhale and exhale helping the body calm down and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
- You pause after the inhale, as you switch from one nostril to another, which allows the body to transfer more oxygen into the body.
- If you tend to breath more through one nostril, it provides an opportunity to breathe through the other, creating balance.
Just as our left brain is considered to be more creative and our right brain is more analytical, our breathing is different too. The left nostril is more calming and the right nostril is more energizing. We all tend to have one more dominant that the other. I find it interesting to notice. It might add to why we feel really off when our nose is stuffy, when one side is closed off more than the other.
(TIP: If I'm having trouble sleeping, closing off the right nostril and breathing in and out of the left can be a handy trick to further calm the body.)
Watch me demonstrate the breath or read below to learn more. (The irony of creating how to videos, when you really dislike watching them yourself.)
How to Practice the Alternate Nostril Breathing
- Sit in a comfortable position with a tall spine. You can sit on the floor, on a blanket or block to help you sit taller, or a chair with your feet under your knees.
- Close your eyes.
- Place your thumb on the right nostril and your ring finger on the left nostril. If you wish, you can place your index and middle fingers on your third eye (the space between your eye brows).
- Close the left nostril with your ring finger and breathe out through the right nostril.
- Breathe in through the right nostril and then close with the thumb finger.
- Release the ring finger on the left nostril and breathe out through the left nostril.
- Inhale through the left nostril, close with the ring, release the thumb finger from the right side and exhale through the right nostril.
- This is one round of Alternate Nostril Breath. Repeat for a set number of rounds or put on a timer for 2-5 minutes.
Learn more techniques to help you reduce stress and find balance with AnamBliss at one of our upcoming health & wellness retreats. Our schedule can be found here.