Reduce Anxiety Just by Breathing! Here’s How.

In this post: Did you know yogis use a breathing technique that reduces anxiety and calms your thoughts, mind, and body? Here’s how to practice Nadi Shodhana pranayama.

pin about how to practice nadi shodhana pranayama

Nadi Shodhana is also known as alternate nostril breathing. This specific breathing pattern is best known for its calming abilities, but it can benefit your body in several other ways. Here’s more about this quick and easy way to practice some self-therapy.

Why Try Nadi Shodhana?

Try Nadi Shodhana if you:

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

I have discovered it’s also a great technique to clear your 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.

Plus, you can:

  • clear your sinus passages.
  • get rid of sinus headaches.
  • lower your blood pressure.
  • improve your respiratory health.
  • eliminate toxins.
  • increase your body’s oxygen.
  • improve your body/mind connection.

That’s a ton of goodness from just one simple breathing exercise!

Getting Your Hand Ready

You use 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 mudra

Others 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.

How to Practice Nadi Shodhana

picture of woman practicing nadi shodhana pranayama

Nadi Shodhana pranayama 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.

  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.
  3. Take a deep inhale and exhale through your nose.
  4. Close your right nostril with your right thumb, and smoothly 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.

For the Visual Learners…

Here’s a video of how to practice Nadi Shodhana pranayama for the visual learners out there.

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

About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.


  1. Georgianna Noel on October 3, 2017 at 10:14 am

    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.

    • Sarah Stockett on October 3, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Thank you so much for letting us know.