CULTIVATING PEACE ONE BREATH AT A TIME
CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO WHERE I TALK A BIT ABOUT AYURVEDA, ANXIETY AND DEMONSTRATE THIS BREATHING EXERCISE (THE VIDEO IS IN FRENCH BUT YOU CAN WATCH WITH SUBTITLES)
Today we are diving into a powerful ritual to enhance our energy naturally using the most powerful inner tool available in our bodies: our breath! In Ayurveda (and many ancient natural healing practices), the breath is literally referred to as the force of life or Prana…
Did you know that only 5 minutes of intentional breathing can change your life and your level of energy instantly? Intentional breathing (meaning that we consciously notice our breath) is so powerful that I wanted to end this ritual series with two incredible breathing exercises.
So let's dive together into the first one, the powerful yet simple breathing exercise called Nadi Shodhanana, and next week we will end with my personal favourite one (it’s a secret so you’ll have to come back next week to find out…)
So what is Nadi Shodhanana?
(also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Nadi in Sanskrit (an ancient Indian language) is translated to "channel” or “flow” and Shodhana means “purification.” Therefore, the breathing technique of Nadi Shodhana is primarily aimed at clearing and purifying the subtle channels of the mind-body organism (with the flow of breath) as well as balancing the yin and yang energies - or feminine and masculine energy or left and right hemispheres of the brain.
It is a powerful practice that is pacifying (aka that balances) for all three doshas and is a suitable practice for most people*. (If you don't know your dosha, please click here to take our free Ayurvedic dosha quiz).
* (If you suffer from a heart condition or high blood pressure of any serious illnesses please consult your physician if you have doubts)
Some of the benefits of Nadi Shodhana
• Infuses the body with oxygen
• Reduces stress and anxiety
• Calms and rejuvenates the nervous system
• Helps to balance hormones
• Supports clear and balanced respiratory channels
• Helps to alleviate respiratory allergies that may cause hay fever or sneezing
• Enhances mental clarity and an alert mind
• Improves the ability to concentrate
• Brings balance to the left and right hemispheres of the brain
How to practice Nadi Shodhana
Nadi shodhana (as with most pranayamas) is best practiced on an empty stomach. The early morning is an ideal time.
• Choose a comfortable sitting position—either cross-legged on the floor (with a cushion or blanket to support the spine), or in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Allow the spine to lengthen so that the back, neck, and head remain straight throughout the practice. Gently close the eyes.
• Begin by taking a full, deep inhalation followed by a slow, gentle exhalation. In this way, practice several rounds of Full Yogic Breath to help awaken the prana maya kosha (the energetic body).
• Fold the tips of the index and middle fingers inward until they touch the palm at the base of the right thumb (Vishnu mudra). You will alternately use the right thumb to close the right nostril and the right ring and pinky fingers (together) to close the left nostril.
• 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. As you inhale, allow the breath to travel upward along the left side of the body.
• Next, use the ring and pinky fingers of the right hand to gently close the left nostril and simultaneously release the right nostril. Exhale through the right nostril, surrendering the breath down the right side of the body. Pause gently at the bottom of the exhalation.
• Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale once again through the right nostril, allowing the breath to travel up the right side of the body.
• Then again, use the right thumb to close the right nostril as you release the left nostril. Exhale through the left nostril, surrendering the breath back down the left side of the body. Pause gently at the bottom of the exhalation.
• This completes one round of nadi shodhana. The same pattern continues for each additional round: inhale through the left nostril, exhale through the right nostril, inhale through the right nostril, exhale through the left nostril.
• Repeat this alternating pattern for several more rounds, focusing your awareness on the pathway of the breath—up one side of the body (from the pelvic floor to the crown of the head) and back down the other side of the body (from the crown of the head to the pelvic floor). Keep the breath slow, gentle, fluid, and relaxed throughout the practice.
Nadi shodhana can be immensely rewarding, even when practiced for as little as five minutes on a regular basis, but practicing daily for ten to fifteen minutes offers even deeper benefits.
I honestly hope that you will try this practice and witness for yourself the incredible benefits that intentional breathing will bring to you. Don't forget to stay connected through social media (@wildgrace.ca) and make sure to visit our online boutique to discover our plant-based skincare that will enhance your well-being and state of peace.
To your equanimity,
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