Initially, the Nadi Shodhana Pranayama and the Anulom Vilom Pranayama may seem identical. It’s because they are two variations of alternate nostril breathing. While both pranayamas involve conscious inhalation through one nostril and exhalation through another, in Nadi Shodhana you have to hold your breath after inhalation for a brief period of time. The translation of Nadi Shodhana is fairly straightforward. Nadi means "channel," and Shodhana means "purification." Hence the purpose of this pranayama is to purify or cleanse the channels of the subtle and physical bodies.
The steps are very similar to Anulom Vilom. First! Find a quiet place and sit comfortably with your spine straight, then follow the steps as below:
- Fold your right hand’s index and middle fingers inwards in order to form Vishnu mudra. Then close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale from the left nostril, holding for a few seconds.
- Now close your left nostril with your ring finger (or any finger you feel comfortable with) and exhale the air from your right nostril, holding for a few seconds.
- With your left nostril closed, inhale through your right nostril and hold.
- Again, close your right nostril and exhale from your left nostril, holding it for a few seconds.
The regular practice of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama helps to:
- Enhance mental, respiratory, and cardiovascular health.
- Relieve mental and physical stress and keep mental disorders at bay.
- Improve concentration, spiritual power, and memory strength.
- Boost jatharagni (digestive fire) and improve digestion.
- Maintain a stable body temperature.
- Synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain.
- Purify the subtle energy channels (nadis) of the body, thereby ensuring a smooth flow of prana (life force) through the body.
This pranayama is also very beneficial to patients with asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis, etc.