Nadi-shuddhi – energy channel cleanser

School of Yoga explains nadi-shuddhi-pranayama or anulom-vilom 

nadi shuddhi

Nadi shuddhi

School of Yoga explains –nadi-shuddhi technique: 

Nadi-shuddhi is a basic and most widely used form of praaNayama and means nadi = energy channel + shuddhi = cleanser. Often, this technique is referred to as anulom-vilom which means inhalation-exhalation.

School of Yoga explains – nadi-shuddhi process consists of 4 steps: 

  • Sthithi (starting) position: Sit comfortably, preferably in padmasana (lotus pose), siddhasana or vajrasana .
  • Place thumb over right nostril and ring-finger + little finger over left nostril. Turn the other 2 fingers turned into the palm.
  • Close right nostril with thumb and inhale through left nostril for 4 counts.
  • Then, close both nostril and hold breath for 4 counts .
  • Release ring finger from over left nostril & exhale through the left nostril for 6 counts. 
  • Close both nostrils & hold breath for 4 counts.
  • Repeat using the reverse method.
  • Inhale from right, hold, exhale through left, hold.
  • This is a round of nadi-shuddhi.
  • Repeat to complete 5 rounds. Rest between cycles if required.
  • Try to slowly increase to 20 rounds.
  • Slowly try increasing duration of inhalation (puraka), holding (kumbaka) and exhalation (rechaka) as you gain confidence.

Over time, you could also increase the ratio of inhalation, holding and exhalation to your comfort. Only, ensure that exhalation is close to twice of inhalation so that lung volumetric efficiency is increased. Also, ensure that the breathing is calm and steady, not erratic and agitated or jerky.

School of Yoga explains – nadi-shuddhi benefits 

  • Since the breathing process is measured and steady, forced volume capacity of the lung increases over time and with practice.
  • Consequently, evacuation of waste gases (CO2 and water vapour) is increased.
  • As a result, the transfer capacity of the lungs gets improved. Transfer capacity is the amount of oxygen that enters the body and amount of CO2 + water vapour that gets removed from the body.
  • This increases oxygen content in the blood stream while removing toxins. So, health and immunity is improved.
  • Also, left/ right brain activity equalisation is improved by this praaNayama.
  • The practice of steady breathing reduces stress and purges excess adrenalin and related toxins from the system.

School of Yoga explains – surya-bheda (splitting the sun) pranayama;

This is a variation of nadi-shuddhi-praaNayama. In nadi-shuddhi, the inhalation and exhalation is alternated between left and right nostrils. However, in surya-bheda-praaNayama, all inhalation is only performed using the right nostril while the exhalation is performed using the left nostril.

School of Yoga explains – surya-bheda technique:

  • Sthithi (starting) position: Sit comfortably, preferably in padmasana (lotus pose), siddhasana or vajrasana with back erect.
  • Close left nostril with thumb and inhale through right nostril for 4 counts.
  • Now, close both nostril for 4 counts & hold breath.
  • Release ring finger from over left nostril & exhale to 6 counts, increasing to 8 counts as you become confident.
  • Close both nostrils & hold breath for 4 counts.
  • This is a round of surya-bheda-praaNayama which activates pingala-nadi.
  • Repeat by starting again with inhalation through the right nostril, hold, exhalation through the left nostril, hold.
  • Practice 5 rounds. Rest in between if required.

School of Yoga explains – chandra-bheda (splitting the moon) praaNayama;

This is a variation of nadi-shuddhi-praaNayama. In nadi-shuddhi, the inhalation and exhalation is alternated between left and right nostrils. However, in chandra-bheda-praaNayama, all inhalation is only performed using the left nostril while the exhalation is performed using the right nostril. This process is the opposite of surya-bheda-praaNayama.

School of Yoga explains – chandra-bheda technique:

  • Sthithi (starting) position: Sit comfortably, preferably in padmasana (lotus pose), siddhasana or vajrasana with back erect.
  • Close right nostril with thumb and inhale through left nostril for 4 counts.
  • Now, close both nostril for 4 counts & hold breath.
  • Closing ring finger from over left nostril & exhale through the right nostril to 6 counts, increasing to 8 counts as you become confident.
  • Finally, close both nostrils & hold breath for 4 counts.
  • This is a round of chandra-bheda-praaNayamawhich activates the ida nadi.
  • Repeat, by starting again with inhalation through the left nostril, hold, exhalation through the right nostril, hold.
  • Practice 5 rounds.
  • Rest in between if required.

After a round of surya-bheda and chandra-bheda-praaNayama, perform nadi-shuddhi to re-balance the flow of prana in the body.

Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazingHatha Yoga Pradeepika

External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, NadiBreathing

The Hatha Yoga Pradeepika on nadi-shuddhi: Chapter 2, verses 7 to 10.

  • Sitting in padmasana, the yogi inhales through the Moon nostril (Ida or left nostril). Then, retaining it to one’s ability, he exhales through the Sun (pingala or right nostril).
  • Then, drawing in air through the Sun nostril (right nostril), the belly should be filled. After performing kumbhaka as before, the air should be exhaled through the iIda.
  • Inhaling thus, through the one through which air was expelled, and having retained it to the utmost, it should be exhaled through the other, slowly, not fast.
  • If the air be inhaled through the ida, it should be expelled through the pingala. If it is drawn in through the pingala and retained there, it should be expelled through the ida. Those that practice thus through the Sun and Moon should have clean nadis after 3 months or so.

Points to ponder on nadi-shuddhi

  • What are the variations of nadi-shuddhi-praaNayama?
  • Which techniques of praaNayama impact stress situations most?
  • What are the various techniques to enhance praaNayama capability?
  • Long term effects of nadi-shuddhi-praaNayama… discuss…
  • PraaNayama sitting postures… advantages and disadvantages?
  • What is the right time to do praaNayama
  • PraaNayama and its impact on Situational Awareness (pragnya).
Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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