Nadi : Subtle energy channels
Shodhan: Purification, cleansing
Pranayama: Breathing technique for expansion of prana
In the Pranamayakosha or the energy body, there are 72,000 nadis. The 3 main nadis and their characteristics are:
Ida (left channel)
– Lunar nadi (moon)
– White, cool, nurturing, feminine
– Controls mental processes
Pingala (right channel)
– Solar nadi (sun)
– Red, hot, stimulating, masculine
– Controls vital somatic processes
Sushumna (central channel)
– Runs from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, passing through each of the seven chakras in its course.
– This is the channel through which kundalini shakti rises up from the muladhara chakra to the sahasrara
The interaction between Ida and Pingala corresponds to the internal dance between intuition and rationality, consciousness and vital power, and the right and left brain hemispheres. In everyday life, one of these nadis is always dominant. This dominance alternates throughout the day, but one nadi tends to be ascendant more often and for longer periods than the other. This results in personalities and behaviors that can be classified as ida-like or pingala-like.
Nadis are subtle energy channels in the human body that can be blocked due to various reasons. The Nadi Shodhana, literally means “nadi cleansing”, is a breathing technique that:
– helps clear these blocked energy channels,
– purifies the blood and respiratory systems,
– balances the nervous system which in turn helps to clam the mind, relieves anxiety and headaches
– balances the Ida and Pingala
This breathing technique is also known as Anuloma Viloma, or alternate nostril breathing.
This practice is effective because the ida nadi is directly connected to the left nostril, and the pingala nadi to the right. A few rounds of this basic Pranayama technique are an excellent way to help restore equilibrium between the two nadis.
Nadi Shodhana – How to practice
In a comfortable seated position (lengthen spine, sit upright), bring the right hand into Vishnu mudra by folding the tips of the index and middle fingers inward until they touch the palm at the base of the right thumb. During this practice, you will alternately use the right thumb to close the right nostril and the right ring finger close the left nostril.
First, use the right thumb to close the right nostril. Exhale gently, but fully, through the left nostril. Keeping the right nostril closed, inhale through the left nostril and deep into the belly for 4 counts.
Next, use the ring finger of the right hand to gently close the left nostril and simultaneously release the right nostril. Exhale through the right nostril for 4 counts. Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale once again through the right nostril for 4 counts. Then again, use the right thumb to close the right nostril as you release the left nostril. Exhale through the left nostril for 4 counts. This completes one round of nadi shodhana.
Continue to do this for 5-10 minutes to receive the full benefits of this technique.
When you are ready to close your practice, complete your final round of nadi shodhana with an exhalation through the left nostril. Release your right hand and place it gently on your right knee. Allow your breath to return to normal.
How are you feeling?
What sensations are present in your body?
Do you feel lighter in head? Perhaps less “clouded”?
Do you feel calmer and “free-er”?
Take a few moments to observe the effects of this practice. Personally, I find nadi shodhana very effective in clearing the mind and relieving headaches and migraines. A short 5 mins practice will allow you to feel lighter and clearer in the head (which can aid in better decision making!)
Some more advanced techniques include breath retention and specific duration ratios for the inhalation and exhalation. You can try increasing the duration of each inhalation and exhalation, and also double the duration of each exhalation compared to each inhalation.
With peace and love,