You want me to do what? That was my first reaction to alternate nostril breathing. It just seemed...odd. Sitting tall, resting one hand on my leg with the other hovering next to my nose so I can plug it- really? Now I'm never one to pass up trying something new so I settled in, closed my eyes, raised my hand and plugged one nostril. The noise that broke the silence of the room was coming from me! More orecisely, my nose. I was both surprised and mortified at the same time. I slyly opened an eye and gazed around the room. Certainly, everyone was staring at me wondering why my nostrils were so loud.
No one was looking at me. In fact, no one cared what I was doing. It was beautiful! I could breathe as loudly as I wanted. I was fully inhaling and exhaling in a room full of strangers. It dawned on me- I had been holding my breath for years.
The practice that brought me back was alternate nostril breathing. As the name implies, you alternately plug each nostril as you inhale and exhale. In Sanskrit, this breath is called Nadi Sodhana Pranayama. Nadi is a tubular organ similar to a vein. The Nadi allows energy or prana to pass. Sodhana means to cleanse or purify. Nadi Sodhana Pranayama is the purification of the nerves.
1. Sit tall and comfortable on the ground in easy pose or a chair with both feet firmly planted on the ground, your back straight and not touching the chair. Place the back of your left hand on your leg.
2. Bend the right arm at the elbow, bringing it toward your nose. Bend your index and middle finger toward the palm. Bring your ring and pinkie finger toward your thumb.
3. Press the ring and pinkie finger into the left nostril. Your thumb is resting on the right nostril (not pressing).
4. Breath in through the right nostril.
5. Plug the right nostril with the thumb and release the left nostril.
6. Exhale through the left nostril.
7. Inhale through the left nostril.
8. Plug the left nostril and release the right nostril.
9. Exhale through the right nostril.
10. Repeat steps 4-9 8-10 times.
Try to make your inhalation and exhalation of equal length. At first this may be difficult. That's normal. Give yourself a chance to get it. After a while, you can retain your breath for an equal length of time after each inhaltion and exhaltion. Again, give yourself a chance to improve.
Benefits of alternate nostril breathing may include improved sleep, increased energy and a calmer mind. This pranayama practice is a great prelude to meditation. Remember, breath retention should not be practiced by people with high blood pressure or heart trouble. People with low blood pressure should only practice breath retention after inhalation only.
If you have any questions come on out to Runner's Yoga every Monday from 5:30-6:30pm at the House of Yin. We will be practicing Nadi Sodhana Pranayama each week!
Upcoming Classes & Events
Tuesdays- Meditation- Converging Paths Meditation Center, 7-8:15p
Fridays- Morning Yoga- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 9am A gentle yoga practice perfect for starting your weekend! $10/class or HOY pass
Wednesdays- April 17- June 12: 5:30-6:30pm. Enchanted Yoga- The Enchanted Cottage, East Sandusky Bay MetroPark, 4011 Cleveland Road. Bring a mat or blanket- no experience necessary! We will be outside on the deck when the weather is warm or perhaps take a winding, walking meditation through the meadows! $10/class
Mondays, May 6- June 10: Runner's Yoga- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 5:30-6:30pm. Join Jess for a class designed specifically for runners! We will cover yoga basics, breathing and the deep stretching essential to the practice of running.
Sunday, May 12: Mother's Day Meditation- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 10am-12pm. Come celebrate our mothers at this free meditation class and stick around for tea, baked goods and fellowship afterwards!
Sundays, May 12- June 2: Meditation- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 10-11am. Various meditation practices, gentle stretching and perhaps some chanting!
Tuesdays, May 21-June 11: 9-10am. Garden Yoga- Mulberry Creek Herb Farm, 3312 Bogart Rd, Huron, OH 44839. A gentle class in a beautiful outdoor garden setting! Bring your own mat and be prepared for the weather! $35/4 classes or $10 drop-in.
Saturday: May 25, 7 pm picnic, 9 pm hike. Dining Out In Erie MetroParks- Osborn MetroPark, 3910 Perkins Ave, Huron, OH 44839. Join us on this full moon for a Memorial Day hot dog roast at our new fire pit located behind the Frost Center. Meet up with old friends, make some new ones and bring a side dish to share! Family, friends & kids welcome. Main dish and drinks provided. Registration required by May 23, $5 fee due with registration.
Mondays, July 22- Aug 19: Yoga for Cycling- House of Yin Yoga Studio. Get ready for a class just for bikers! We will focus on the core, lower back and breath in this series. $10/class or HOY pass.