Anxiety is Painful, Nadi Shodhana Can Help

Written by: Ruthie Hanan

I know I don’t even need to say it, but boy is it a crazy time.  None of us have ever experienced anything like what our world is currently going through with the coronavirus. Those who have never experienced anxiety are likely to now experience it, and those who have suffered before are prone to extra suffering.  Now is a time where we need to use all the tools we know of to calm the body and, therefore, the mind.  As crazy as this all is, this too shall pass, and I am confident this will make us stronger.  Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is always in my toolbet when it comes to anxiety.  It’s a pranayama used to balance the sides of the body, our nadis. Our left side (ida) is home to our yin, cool, feminine, and receiving energy; our right side (pingala) is yang, fire, masculine, and giving energy.  When we experience anxiety, quite often there is an imbalance in the energies in our body.  The calming and balancing effects of this can be felt immediately after practicing, along with benefits of a consistent practice including improving focus, supporting lungs and respiratory functions, removing toxins, and rejuvenating nervous system. This pranayama can be practiced by sitting comfortably with a straight spine and taking the following steps:

  1. Bring your pointer finger and middle finger on your right hand to rest between your eyebrows. 
  2. Close your eyes and take a deep cleansing breath in and out through your nose.
  3. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily.
  4. At the top of your inhale, close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are held closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale for a brief pause.
  5. Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale.
  6. With left nostril still closed, inhale back through the right side slowly.
  7. Hold both nostrils closed briefly (with ring finger and thumb).
  8. Open your left nostril and release breath slowly through the left side, pausing for a moment at the bottom of your exhale.
  9. Repeat these steps for 5-10 cycles, keeping attention on the air entering and exiting each nostril.

I hope this can be of service to you and give you moment of calm within this storm.  Keep breathing and namaste!