Alternate Nostril breathing sounds and looks pretty strange, but it has great health benefits once you learn to do it. As the name suggests we breathe through alternate nostrils in a set pattern.
Nasagra Mudra is the hand position we use for Alternate Nostril breathing. Use the right hand and place the forefinger and middle fingers at the eyebrow centre; this leaves the thumb available to shut off the right hand nostril and the ring finger to shut off the left hand nostril. Once the practice is learnt, awareness is focused at the centre of the head at Agni Chakra. The eyebrow centre is the trigger point for this Chakra.
Alternate Nostril breathing begins by inhaling through the left nostril (closing the right with the thumb) and then exhaling through the right nostril (opening the right and closing the left with the ring finger). The next inhale comes in through the right nostril and then the exhale goes out the left nostril and this completes 1 round of the practice. It sounds more complicated than it actually is – imagine the flow of breath makes 2 inverted V shapes.
You can practice this at home if you have been taught the practice in one of my classes, it’s best to be supervised in the beginning so you don’t get off to the wrong start.
It is important with all Pranayama practices to sit upright with the spine in a straight line, this will help you to breathe correctly using the correct muscles. Use a chair if you find that you are sagging or your attention is being drawn to joints or muscles that cannot support you at the moment.
There are many benefits of practising Nadi Shodana – from the fist practice you will notice that both nostrils work effectively even if one was a little restricted at first (this is usual). Improving the breath flow means a greater supply of oxygen around the body and brain. The practice helps to induce tranquillity and clarity in the mind and is great for concentration.