Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is an amazing pranayama method to help you sense centered, with an understandable and dazzling mind for meditation.
Balancing the Ida and Pingala, the mental force and vital force is one of the main objectives of Pranayama. Left nostril (Ida) and right nostril (Pingala) if balanced can awaken Sushumna (the psychic nadi or channel carrying kundalini) nadi.
It is very helpful in balancing both mechanism of your Autonomous Nervous System namely Sympathetic and Para-Sympathetic Nervous system and thereby stabilizes your mind.
Nadi Shodan Pranayama- Detailed description
Technique: Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale very slowly from the left nostril. Upon completion of inhaling, hold the breath in (antara kumbhaka) and apply the chin lock (Jalandhar bandha) and the root lock (mula bandha). Release the chin lock and very slowly exhale from the right nostril. Upon completion of exhaling, inhale very slowly from the right nostril and hold the breath in (antar kumbhaka) with chin lock and root lock in place. When ready to release, exhale very slowly from the left nostril.
This completes one round. The second round begins with left nostril inhalation and so on. Note that inhalation and exhalation should be soft and inaudible to the person sitting by you.
You may also do mentally directed Nadi Shodhana in which fingers are not used to close and open the nostrils. Simply mentally direct your breath to and from one nostril at a time. Mental alternate nostril breathing is also initiated with left nostril inhalation.
Duration/repetitions: Minimum three times. Maximum: unlimited.
Ratio for breathing and breath holding: Beginners should maintain the ratio of 1:2:2 for inhalation-hold (after inhale) and exhalation. Example: Inhalation=10 seconds; hold after inhale (antar-kumbhaka)=20 seconds and exhalation=20 seconds. Advanced practitioners may keep the ratio of 1:4:2.
Benefits: The name nadi shodhana means the purification of the nerves. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is also referred to as ‘alternate nose breathing’.
Nadi Shodhana purifies the blood by providing sufficient oxygen to the blood. The deeper breathing enriches the blood with oxygen.
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama strengthens the respiratory system and balances the nervous system of the body.
It helps to relieve nervousness and headaches and also provides complete peace of mind
Same benefits as those for Anuloma-Viloma. Mentally directed nostril breathing is particularly beneficial for concentration, mental stabilization and calming.
Caution: 1:4:2 ratio is discouraged by some other yoga schools. After the mastery of this ratio, advanced practitioners may go on to include the suspension of the breath after exhalation (bahya Kumbhaka) in their practice.
Example for the ratio for the advanced practitioner: Inhalation=10 seconds; hold after inhale (antar-kumbhaka)=40 seconds, exhalation=20 seconds and suspension of breath after exhalation=20 seconds.
In Nadi Shodhana, SRDM stresses that the more the breath is slow, long, subtle, smooth and easy, the greater are the physical and mental benefits.
Do Nadi Shodhana according to your comfortable capacity. The duration of inhalation, exhalation and breath holding should be determined by your personal capacity. If you feel tired during or after the practice of Nadi Shodhana, you might be doing too much. End the practice with meditation/awareness of soft and slow inhalation and exhalation and the sound of "Om."
End the pranayama sequence with Nadi Shodhana or soft Ujjayi so the breath slows down and inhalation and exhalation is equalized. When you end your practice with soft, slow and equalized breathing, you minimize the chances of ending your practice with too much carbon dioxide (hypercapnia) or too little oxygen (hypoxia) in your system.