Breathwork: Nadi Shodhana

Nadi Shodhana Breath can have a profound impact on your body, mind, and nervous system. Both a simple and powerful tool, Nadi Shodhana Breath can be used by most people as an effective practice to clear the mind and calm the physical body.

Nadi Shodhana Breath is the Sanskrit name for Alternate Nostril Breathing and comes from the Sanskrit nadi, meaning “channel,” and shodhana, meaning “cleaning” or “purifying.” Loosely translated, we can think of Nadi Shodhana Breath as a tool to encourage “subtle energy clearing” physically, emotionally, and mentally. 

What is Nadi Shodhana Breath?

Nadi Shodhana Breath is a powerful pranayama practice that helps calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and bring a feeling of relaxation to the entire body. It can also help prepare the mind for meditation, making Nadi Shodhana Breath a wonderful practice to incorporate prior to seated meditation. Alternate Nostril Breathing is also beneficial before high-stress situations as a way to lower stress and enhance focus and concentration.

Benefits of Nadi Shodhana Breath

With regular practice, Nadi Shodhana Breath can bring harmony and balance to your nervous system, resulting in less stress. Some of the many benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing include the following:

  • Calms and centers the mind
  • Helps anchor the mind to the present moment
  • Therapeutic for the circulatory and respiratory systems
  • Stress relieving and relaxing for the body and mind
  • Helps harmonize the left and right hemispheres of the brain
  • Helps purify and balance the nadis, subtle energy channels within the body
  • Maintains body temperature
  • Reduces heart rate and lowers blood pressure

How To perform Nadi Shodhana Breath

  • Find a comfortable seat, with your spine long and hips relaxed. Release any tension from your jaw. Close your eyes.
  • Place the tip of the index finger and middle finger of the right hand on your forehead in between the eyebrows. Place the ring finger on the left nostril and the thumb on the right nostril.
  • On an exhalation, close the right nostril with your thumb and breathe out through the left nostril.
  • Breathe in through the left nostril and then close it with the ring finger. Release the thumb on the right nostril and breathe out through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, close with the thumb, release the ring finger from the left side and exhale through the left nostril. These four steps constitute one round of Nadi Shodhana Breath. 
  • Keep your breath even, slow and gentle.
  • For maximum benefit, the full cycle should be repeated 5 to 10 times.

Try Nadi Shodhana Breath before your next meditation practice or whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed. This ancient breathing practice is almost guaranteed to bring a sense of calm to any hectic moment and help you greet challenges with greater ease.

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Erin Entlich is a certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, holistic health coach, and writer. She believes doing good starts with feeling good, which is why she loves helping people weave movement, mindfulness, and healthy eating into their daily lives. Find out more at