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Nadi Sodhana – the Alternate Nostril Breath

June 2, 2011
The following is a yoga breathing exercise that balances the two hemispheres of the brain and leaves one with a feeling of exceptional well being and calm and serenity. A direct translation of Nadi Sodhana means purification of the nerves.
Sit in a comfortable position with your hands resting lightly in your lap. With your right hand feel for the end of the septum (the soft part of your nose). Fold the index and middle fingers of your right hand into the palm and place your right thumb lightly against the septum on the right side of your nose to close the right nostril. Inhale gently through the left nostril and then close the left nostril with the ring finger of the right hand. Lift the thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Keep the left nostril closed and inhale through the right nostril. Close the right nostril, open the left nostril and exhale through the left nostril. This comprises one round of alternate nostril breathing.It is not necessary to apply pressure to the nose; a light touch is all that is required. Always start this exercise by inhaling through the left nostril so that the rhythm is left, right, right, left. This is not a harsh or a forced breath; it is a very refined, slow, smooth, gentle, breathing exercise. You should not be able to hear the breath as it leaves and enters your body. Keep the right elbow lifted away from your ribcage and keep the shoulders soft and free of tension. Do twenty rounds of alternate nostril breathing with your eyes closed and feel the difference.

As soon as you begin this exercise you will notice that one nostril is more dominant than the other. This is quite normal. The dominance changes from one nostril to the other in 45 minute cycles.
Yogis have been doing this breathing exercise for over 4 000 years. In 1983 a scientific magazine called Human Neurobiology printed an article called Science ‘Discovers’ Alternate Nostril Breathing in which it stated that there is a direct relationship between brain activity and the nasal cycle and that controlled breathing through the more congested nostril awakens the less-dominant hemisphere of the brain. It went on to say that when airflow is freer in one nostril, the opposite hemisphere is currently dominant. It is nice to know that science agrees with us.
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Amber Land completed her yoga teacher’s training at Ananda Kutir Yoga Centre in Cape Town in 1992 and has been teaching yoga ever since. She is trained and teaches in the Sivananda Integral Yoga Style, incorporating what she considers the best aspects of other schools into her teaching. amberland@vodamail.co.za | www.hathayoga.co.za

Model: Syed from Jai Yoga | Photographs, Angus Maresch

 

 

 

 

 

 

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