Alternate Nostril Breathing
This exercise is especially energizing if done at the start of your day. It encourages the balanced functioning of both hemispheres of the brain.
Alternate nostril breathing ("nadi-shodhana" in Sanskrit) is a pranayama known as a channel cleanser. Sit comfortably during this practice. Use a cushion or lean against the wall, if you need to. Do not practice retention of your breath if you have high blood pressure or are in the last trimester of pregnancy.
Find a quiet place to sit where you will not be disturbed for a few minutes. (Even your office) You may sit one of two ways, either on the floor cross-legged sitting with the edge of your buttocks on a pillow, or in a chair. No matter where you are sitting, make sure that you are sitting right up on your sit bones, the bony protrusions at the base of your buttocks. Sit with your spine erect without pushing your chest forward. Allow your chest to relax while the crown of your head reaches up.
Close the right nostril with the thumb. Inhale through the left nostril to a comfortable count of four, five or six. Close the left nostril with your ring and pinky fingers. Pause. Lift the thumb to open the right nostril. Exhale through the right nostril for a four, five or six count (while keeping left nostril closed). Pause. Reverse this sequence (i.e. inhale through the right nostril with left nostril closed). Begin with six rounds of breath. Gradually increase the number of rounds and gradually increase the time spent on retention after inhale and exhale.
Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing
- Clears sinuses.
- Improves focus and mental clarity.
- Balances left and right brain hemispheres.
- Produces relaxation if pause is maintained after exhale.
- Produces energy if pause is maintained after inhale.
Practicing the above exercises daily leads to deep relaxation. The benefits of this relaxation become apparent in your daily life, and you find yourself calmer and more peaceful. You may also have a great deal more energy than before.