Try Nadi Shodhana to Reduce Anxiety

Nadi Shodhana, which is also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing, is a wonderful anxiety-reducing technique. This specific breathing pattern can help calm your thoughts, mind, and body.

Try Nadi Shodhana if you:

  • are meditating,
  • have difficulty sleeping, or
  • feel anxious or stressed.

Personally, I have also used this technique to clear my sinuses and help relieve sinus headaches. I would also imagine that this breathing technique might be very helpful for those who suffer from stress headaches.

Benefits of Nadi Shodhana

According to “Nadi Shodhana:  How to Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing,”

“With just a few minutes of alternate nostril breathing, you can restore balance and ease in the mind and body. Sometimes when we feel frazzled or find ourselves doing too many things at once, it’s because energetically, we are out of alignment. This breath is great for restoring that necessary balance.”

Some additional benefits of Nadi Shodhana are:

  • improved focus.
  • exercise for the lungs and respiratory system.
  • cleared energetic channels.
  • a balance of the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
  • removal of toxins.
  • reduced stress.
  • rest for the nervous system.

As I mentioned, I have also used this technique to clear my sinus passages and get rid of sinus headaches.

Nadi Shodhana

You will need your ring finger and thumb of your right hand to practice this breathing technique. Some people like to place their pointer and middle fingers together in the center of the forehead. This allows for the ring finger and thumb to come to opposite sides of the bridge of the nose.

vishnu mudraOthers like to use the Vishnu mudra. In this hand position, the pointer and middle fingers of the right hand are folded to the palm. After securing these fingers, place your thumb and ring finger on opposite sides of the bridge of your nose.

Regardless of your hand choice, the idea is that your ring finger and thumb stay near to your nose to help close and open your nostrils with minimal effort.

Nadi Shodhana also involves breath retention. At the top of your inhale and the bottom of your exhale, you will briefly hold your breath. It is best if you hold your breath for approximately the same length as your inhale and exhale. For example, try to inhale for a count of 5, hold for a count of 5, exhale for a count of 5, and hold for a count of 5.

Breathing Practice

  1. Begin in a comfortable seated position. Feel your SITs bones ground down beneath you and reach through the top of your head.
  2. Position your right hand so that your thumb is on one nostril and your ring finger is on the other nostril. Choose one of the two hand positions listed above.

    nadi shodhana
    Thanks to Sarvyoga for this image.
  3. Take a deep inhale and exhale through your nose.
  4. Close your right nostril with your right thumb, and steadily inhale through the left nostril.
  5. Use your ring finger to close your left nostril. Both nostrils are closed now. Take a moment to hold your inhale.
  6. Open the right nostril only and slowly exhale. Pause at the end of your exhale.
  7. Inhale smoothly through the right nostril.
  8. Use your thumb to close your right nostril. Both nostrils are closed now. Take a moment to hold your inhale.
  9. Open your left nostril and exhale smoothly. Pause at the end of your exhale.
  10. Completing steps 4-9 is one breath cycle. Try to complete 5-10 cycles.

The more advanced you become with this alternate nostril breathing practice, the longer you will be able to go. A good goal is to be able to practice this breathing style for 10 continuous minutes.

Why do you practice Nadi Shodhana? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

2 comments

  1. My doctor taught me to use alternate nostril breathing to reduce anxiety. It can really help to get your breathing back to normal if you have anxiety that results in tight chest and difficulty breathing like I do.

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