This blog breaks down how to do the pranayama breathing technique Nadi Shodana. You don’t have to be a yogi to do breathing techniques, these are accessible to anyone and at any time. Having a few breathing techniques in your back pocket for those less than calm moments in life can help you manage a tricky situation with a clear and considered mind.

First of all, what is Nadi Shodana breathing? Nadi Shodana is a pranayama (breathing) technique which promotes calmness, tension release and can be used to slow down the mind and body.

With many types of pranayama techniques, there are contra-indications to take into consideration, however, with Nadi Shodana there are none! Meaning you can do this at any time, anywhere and regardless of how you are feeling.

Nadi Shodana breathing has some amazing calming qualities, and for those who get a bit of road rage, or have a short fuse- a perfect way to defuse and unwind that tension quickly!

#1 Make the Shaka Hand

For the surfers out there, this bit is easy.

Make a fist, and then extend your thumb and baby finger out (a shaka) but then also extend your ring ringer too (the one next to your baby finger).

Your index and middle finger can either rest on top of your nose, or can remain in a fist.

Breathing Techniques
#2 Opening and Closing

This step is just so you can get used to what your hands will be doing to your nose. (its not as strange as it sounds)

Place your thumb over one nostril and your ring/baby finger over the other.

Alternate closing one nostril whilst keeping the other open, and then swap over.

This is the physical action that you will be doing whilst breathing.

Breathing Techniques for calmness
#3 Inhale and Exhale

So you may have guessed, Nadi Shodana breathing is alternate nostril breathing. When your nostril is open, you either inhale or exhale, swap your fingers and repeat on the other side.

A general rule of thumb for this is when you exhale, you inhale using the same nostril.

Give it a try- Step 4 gives you something to visualise to help with this step.

Nadi Shodana Breathing
#4 Visualising the Triangle

Visualising that your nose is a triangle really helped me when learning this technique and still helps me to remember when to inhale and exhale.

As you inhale imagine that your breath is going to the top of your nose towards your eyes, and then as you exhale it goes down the other nostril. The reverse the process, so inhale up the same side you have just exhaled to the point towards your eyes and then exhale down the other side of the triangle.

The Nadi Shodana Technique
#5 Putting it all together…

Armed with steps 1-4, you’re ready to give Nadi Shodana a go.

Starting with the left side, inhale, swap nostrils and then exhale.

Try to go for 5 rounds to begin with, and then when you are feeling a little more confident try for 10 rounds. Always finishing by exhaling on the right side.

To help, try counting to 3 on every inhales, hold at the top of your nose for 3 and exhale for 3.

You can get more playful with holding the breath and exhaling for longer once you have this technique nailed.

You may like to shut your eyes and visualise the triangle or breath.

After your first go, just observe to see if your mind/breath/body feels any different?

Nadi Shodana Breathing