Nadi Shodhana-Alternate Nostril Breathing

Posted by in Pranayama

I got the rad pic above from Kaitlyn Roland’s site, YogaDopa.

Alternate nostril breathing, or nadi shodhana is the true pranayama ish. I like to do it at the end of a yoga practice, especially if I’m teaching. It takes about 5 minutes to get a little session in and it completely balances the brain and focuses the mind in a way that will leave you with that sweet chilled out feeling like you’ve just smoked the yoga joint.

I learned it initially in my 200 hour training with Tribe Yoga in Goa, India. I did my 200 hour in Ashtanga, so it was taught to me as a balancing breath and they used the following hand technique as a way to teach it (I have one more photo ripped form YogaDopa below).

  • Sit comfortably with your spine erect and shoulders relaxed. Keep a gentle smile on your face.
  • Place your left hand on the left knee, palms open to the sky to receive.
  • Place the thumb of your right hand on your right nostril and close or bend your index and middle finger, leaving your ring finger and pinky open and pointing upwards and breathe in through your left nostril.


  • Removing the right thumb from the right nostril, breathe out from the right, while you squeeze your left nostril with your ring finger and pinky.
  • Breathe in from the right, then release the left and exhale from there. You have now completed one round of Nadi Shodhan pranayama. Continue inhaling and exhaling from alternate nostrils.
  • Complete 9 such rounds by alternately breathing through both the nostrils. After every exhalation, remember to breathe in from the same nostril from which you exhaled. Keep your eyes closed throughout and continue taking long, deep, smooth breaths without any force or effort.

In Sivanada yoga they call this Anuloma Viloma and it includes a breath retention in-between in the inhale and exhale.

They teach that it harmonizes the central nervous system and teaches focus and is a prerequisite for  healthy body and mind.

When I do it in my own practice, I mix the two. I hold my hand like the Nadi Shodhana way, but I do a breath retention. When I teach it, I start with inhaling and exhaling and retaining for a count of five each and work up to a count of ten.

My two cents: If you do 10 rounds of this, you will breathe better after and when you are finished and remove your hand, if you inhale deeply and hold your breath, you can do it for what feels like forever. Breath control does something to my brain that no amount of drugs or meditation ever has (yes, this is better than DABs). I recommend this to the really stressed out set to help focus in times of severe or daily anxiety.

Happy breathing!