Nadi = Channel Shodhana = Purification
Nadi Shoodhana brings prana to the Sushumna Nadi or central meridian creating balance. It is best done before mediation but is also a good pranayama technique to use at the end of a yoga class as it restores balance and/or compensates for any imbalances that may have been caused during the practise.
Nadi Shoodhana is widley known as alternate nostril breathing and there are many ways to practise it.
What is the Sushumna Nadi?
Sushumna = very gracious Nadi = channel
There are 72,000 or more channels/nadis within the body. The Sushumna Nadi is the central channel of both the physical and spiritual body and the one in which Kundalini energy travels. It is associated with balance and is known as the body’s great river and the path to enlightenment. Spiralling around the sushumna nadi are two nerve channels/nadis known as Ida and Pingala.
- Ida = Comfort
The Ida Nadi is activated by left nostril breathing.
Originating at the Muladhara Chakra, it courses through the chakras and ends in the left nostril. Ida is aligned with feminine and moon energy and has a calming and cooling effect.
- Pingala = Tawny
The Pingala Nadi is activated by right nostril breathing.
Originating at the Muladhara Chakra, it courses through the chakras and ends in the right nostril. Pingala is aligned with masculine and sun energy and has a heating effect.
During the course of the day, the left and right nostril alternate in which one dominates. One of the nostrils will dominate based on your mental, emotional, and physical state. They alternate throughout the day. As they change over, the Sushumna is activated, but only for a couple minutes. The key is to activate Sushumna for a longer period of time. This is accomplished when both the Ida and Pingala are flowing evenly.
Nadi Shodhana restores balance between the Ida and Pingala Nadis and the feminine and masculine internal forces.
How to practise Nadi Shodhana:
- Place the index finger and middle fingers of the right hand on the third eye centre;
- Place the thumb beside the right nostril and the ring and little fingers on the left nostril;
- Breathe in through the left nostril for five counts, closing the right nostril with your thumb;
- Close the left nostril with your ring and little fingers;
- Breathe out through the right nostril for five counts;
- Breathe in through the right nostril for five counts, keeping the left nostril closed;
- Breathe out through the left nostril for five counts, keeping the right nostril closed.
- Repeat the sequence for at least three rounds, building up to twenty rounds.
For the experienced student Kumbhaka can be used in Nadi Shodhana. Kumbhaka used during the inhale is called Anatara Kumbhaka and Maha Bandha can be used here to seal of the three energy locks. Kumbhaka used on the exhale is called Bahya Kumbhaka and should only be used by advanced students under the guidance of a teacher.