A Quick + Easy Breathing Practice to Calm the Nervous System, from the Founders of Love Yoga
Alternate nostril breathing, or nadi shodhana, is an incredible technique that instantly calms the nervous system and balances the right and left channels. Our right side is our masculine side, our paternal root, the hand that signs the check and steps into the world. Our left side is our feminine side, our maternal roots, the side of the heart and the dawning of feelings. This simple exercise will help you to restore balance between these 2 channels while relaxing the nervous system as a whole (something we could all use a whole lot more of...).
To begin ~
1) Create a comfortable seat. Sit up on bolster, block, pillow, sturdy shoe box, whatever you have that can elevate your seat above your knees. The seat can be cross-legged or some variation of kneeling. Make it comfortable so it's sustainable. A chair is fine, too!
2) Set your right hand up. Fold the index and middle fingers of your right hand into your palm. Bring your hand up to your face. Your thumb will control the right nostril and your ring finger will control the flow through left nostril.
3) With your seat comfortable and your right hand in place, start by taking a full and complete inhale and exhale out of both nostrils. Block the right and inhale slowly and steadily through the left nostril. Cover the left and exhale slowly and completely though the right. Inhale through the right and exhale through the left. This is one full round. Decide that you are you going to do 5 rounds to start and build up from there.
Advanced variation ~
4) Begin to add retentions on the inhale, holding the air in for 4 counts. When this is comfortable, add retention on the exhales as well.
5) After exhaling through the left nostril on your final round, release your hand and take both hands into your lap or on your thighs. Take several full inhales and exhales through both nostrils, keeping the eyes closed. Bring your hands together, bow your head, and express gratitude.