In our yoga practice, the breath is what links our body and mind together as one. It is a vital energy source, and is responsible for bridging the gap between our nervous system and our outwardly actions.
I remind my students about using their breath almost entirely throughout my yoga classes. I begin by introducing the breath within our meditation, and invite my students to use the breath throughout our time together as a way to create a moving meditation once we delve into the asanas (physical postures). The breath is an excellent tool to fire up our personal power, and to quiet the chatter of the mind. Just as our breath patterns change as our mood shifts, we are also capable of utilizing the breath as a way to shift our perspective and choose how we want to feel (both on and off our mats).
Nodi Shodhan Pranayama, or Alternate Nostril Breathing, is a fab way to tap into your nervous system and center your mind. It is exceptionally beneficial in easing anxiety, stress, or emotional disarray. It helps to regulate and purify the circulatory and respiratory systems, and provides balance throughout the entire body. By alternating our breath through different nostrils, we tap into both the left and right hemisphere of the brain, connecting our logistical side to our creativity. Practice this any time you may be feeling 'off.' I promise you, your thoughts and emotions will be a lot more clear afterwords.
1. Come to a nice, comfortable cross-legged position (sukhasana). Sit up tall through your spine, and ground down through your sit bones. Rest your left palm on your left knee, facing upwards or connecting the thumb and index finger together (jnana mudra).
2. Take your right hand and place your index and middle finger on your third eye space (between your eyebrows). Place the ring and pinky finger on the left nostril, the thumb on the right nostril. You'll be using the ring/pinky fingers to open and close the left nostril, while your thumb will open and close the right.
3. Place your thumb on your right nostril, and breathe out through your left nostril. Then, breathe in through your left nostril, close the left, and breathe out through the right.
4. Breathe in through the right, close the right with your thumb, and breathe out through the left.
5. Keep repeating this pattern for at least a minute or two. Just be mindful that each time you're breathing out, you want to breathe in again from that same nostril.
Afterwords, just take a moment to stay seated. Notice the subtle shifts within the body and the mind. Let the clarity begin!