Pranayama or ‘life force control’ is the ancient ritual of controlling the breath to access the mind and relax or stimulate the body. It also aids longevity to life itself since proper deep breath oxygenates the entire body, upon which every cell depends. This is just a tiny part of the many benefits of a yoga practice.
There are many different types of breath control but today we’re focusing in on one called Nadi Shodhana (prounounced naa-dee-shod-anna), translating from Sanskrit as ‘channel’ (nadi) ‘cleaning’ (shodhana).
What is especially interesting about Nadi Shodhana is its ability to lower the heart rate and completely remove stress and anxiety. It is said to be able to harmonise and levy out the two hemispheres of the brain, whilst stimulating the different energies running concurrently within the body.
If performed prior to a yoga practice, nadi shodhana enables prana (upward energy) to flow more freely through the body. If performed at the end of a practice, it is extremely calming and enables the practitioner to get more deeply into their relaxation, more quickly.
As demonstrated here by Mary Ann Weeks Aveda Wellbeing studio yoga teacher Cristina De Piano, here’s a step by step guide how to practice Nadi Shodhana pranayama:
Sit comfortably with your spine nice and tall (you can sit on a cushion or block if its more comfortable for your hips and back. Take a few smooth slow breaths to get settled in the pose and start the calming process
Relax your left hand on your left knee with the palm facing down
Bring your right hand gently up to your face and gently close your right nostril with your thumb. Breathe in smoothly through your left nostril. Option: to rest your index and middle finger lightly on the third eye (between the eyebrows)
At the top of the inhale, release the block of the right nostril and close the left nostril with your ring finger. Exhale slowly through your right nostril
Inhale through your right nostril at the same slow pace, then at the top of the inhale, switch the block of the nostrils again, back to the left, opening the left nostril and closing the right nostril once more with the thumb
Repeat the cycle for 3 minutes or as long as you’re comfortable with. This is a lovely breath to meditate to as well
Over time you might want to begin adding breath retention (holding the breath at the top and bottom of the inhale and exhale) to deepen your pranayama practice
To learn more and experience the benefits of Pranayama within a yoga and meditation practice, have a look at Mary Ann Weeks Aveda Guildford Wellbeing studio timetable. Many classes are suitable from beginners onwards especially gentle yoga and slow flow yoga classes. Our teachers are all experienced and would love to share their knowledge with you. You may also be interested in our beginners yoga workshops, with limited spaces we recommend booking early.
If you would like advise about where to start, please email our studio manager at [email protected]
We look forward to welcoming you into the studio soon!