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Alternate Nostril Breath

Nadi Shodhana, or 'alternate nostril breathing,' is a simple yet powerful technique that settles the mind, body, and emotions. You can use it to quiet your mind before beginning a meditation practice, and it is particularly helpful to ease racing thoughts if you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or having trouble falling asleep. There are several different styles of Nadi Shodhana, but they all serve the purpose of creating balance and regulating the flow of air through your nasal passages. In fact, the term Nadi Shodhana means 'clearing the channels of circulation.'

"To breathe properly is to live properly" ~ Robin Sharma

The Why

With just a few minutes of alternate nostril breathing, you can restore balance and ease in

the mind and body. Sometimes when we feel frazzled or find ourselves doing too many things at once, it’s because energetically, we are out of alignment. This breath is great for restoring that necessary balance. In addition to calming the mind and reversing stress, alternate nostril breathing also improves focus, supports respiratory functions and restores balance in the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and clears the energetic channels.

The When

Whether you’re nervous about a project or presentation, anxious about a conversation, feeling pressured by family or just generally stressed out, Nadi Shodhana (or Alternate Nostril Breathing) is a quick and calming way to bring you back to your centre. If you find it difficult to settle into your meditations, try moving through a few rounds first, then remain seated and shift directly into stillness; this should help to ground you before meditation and help to hit the reset button or your mental state.

The How

With your right hand, bring your pointer finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly. Close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are held closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale. Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; pause briefly. Inhale through the right side slowly. Hold both nostrils closed. Open your left nostril and release your breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom. Repeat.

Alternate Nostril Breathing: "Provides high-level evidence for positive outcomes for the autonomic nervous and cardiopulmonary systems. There is also a high level of evidence regarding improvement in cognitive functioning with regular practice of alternate nostril breathing." ~ International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences

Breathing Techniques

There are a range of deep breathing techniques available to you, all with profound power and positive benefits. Box Breathing is one of the easiest to learn and is a great entry point into breathing methods. Alternate Nostril Breathing is one of the most popular and widely used techniques. Other breathing methods commonly used to increase alertness, calm nerves, and achieve calmness include:

~ Pranayama breathing

~ Meditation breathing

~ Shaolin Dan Tian breathing

While many people use deep breathing techniques independently, there are many apps available that are helpful when learning how to do guided meditation and breathwork.

A woman is enjoying breathing in the fresh air of nature.

Breath and Memory

A study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology showed that mindfulness-based attention, which involves focusing on one’s breathing, increases the ability to maintain visuospatial information over short periods. This suggests that deep, controlled breathing can improve working memory capacity, the kind of memory we use to hold and manipulate information in our minds over short periods.

Fortunately, the relationship between breathing and memory remains an exciting and emerging field, adding to an already solid foundation of research into the benefits of controlled breathing for stress and anxiety. Findings from the research discussed above suggest exciting possibilities for more mainstream use of breathing practices, and potential therapeutic applications. Understanding the importance of breathing is incredibly useful for overall wellness and memory, but could also have implications for interventions related to cognitive decline, stress, anxiety and conditions such as ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease.

It seems that the simple act of breathing, often taken for granted, can play a significant role in our physical, emotional and cognitive functions, including memory recall. So next time you’re struggling to remember something, take a moment, take a deep breath, and see if it helps. It appears our breath holds more power over our brains than we might think.

"Deep breathing brings deep thinking and shallow breathing bring shallow thinking" ~ Elsie Lincoln Benedict

According to Yogi teachings, A positive ionic current flows through the right nostril and a negative current flows through the left nostril, therefore we simply balance ionisation through a controlled breathing technique. A healthy mind has an easy breath.

If you're interested in improving your overall health, consider booking a Kinesiology and Coaching session with Katherine Anderson.

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