With our country in the midst of change, many people find themselves facing extraordinarily high levels of anxiety. Perhaps unsurprisingly, yogis have long known the benefits of controlling the breath (known as the practice of Pranayama) to control the mind and emotional response. Yogis have been practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing for centuries.
Research has shown that Alternate Nostril Breathing helps reduce blood pressure by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, it improves our attention and focus, and may even increase your respiratory endurance. Sound like a sweet offer? There’s more, this technique is so easy it can be done discreetly almost anywhere, even in a bathroom stall at work if necessary.
How to perform Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
1. Using your right hand, fold your first and second fingers in on your palm. Place your thumb on your right nostril, your ring and pinkie fingers will be on the left side of your nose.
2. Close your eyes, press with your thumb on your right nostril so that you block the flow of air on that side. Begin to inhale through the left nostril only.
3. Release your right nostril and block your left nostril with your ring and pinkie fingers. Exhale smoothly through your right nostril. Keeping your left nostril blocked, inhale through your right nostril.
4. Release the left nostril and block the right with your thumb. Exhale through your left nostril.
You may wish to add a simple count to each breath in order to focus on slowing and extending the breath. For instance, inhale for a count of 8 and exhale for a count of 8.
Do as many rounds as necessary to bring your emotional state back into balance. When you are finished, make sure you end your session with an exhale through the left nostril.