Nadi = Channel, flow or river
Shodhana = Purification
Alternate nostril breathing is one of my favorite pranayamas since there are multiple ways to practice. You can mix and match different versions and ways to practice and see what you enjoy best.
Versions of Breath (Cooling, Heating & Balancing)
- Cooling = Chandra (Moon) Bhedana. The breath direction is inhaling via the left and exhaling via the right. The left side of your body is the more restful and Yin side. This breath tends to be more calming.
- Heating = Surya (Sun) Bhedana. The breath direction is inhaling via the right and exhaling via the left. The right side of your body is the more active and energetic Yang side. This breath tends to wake you up and increase focus.
- Balancing = Alternate the direction with each breath cycle. Meaning your first breath is inhaling via the left and exhaling via the right. The next breath is the reverse, inhaling via the right and exhaling via the left. Continuing on back and forth. This one is perfect to do if you are not sure if you need more cooling or heating energy.
Ways to practice
- Visual Alternate Nostril Breathing = No need for toggling the nostrils open and closed with your fingers. The visual element is tracing an imaginary upside down U-shape. Inhale via one nostril, follow the breath around the third eye center (space between the eyebrows) and then follow the breath out the other nostril.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing with hand mudra called Vishnu to open/close each nostril = Take either hand and curl in your first and middle fingers into your palm. Bring your thumb to rest on the outside of one of your nostrils. Your ring and pinkie combo to rest on the opposite nostril. You will use this mudra to toggle your nostrils open and close to control the flow of breath.