NADI SODHANA PRANAYAMA – INSTRUCTIONS & BENEFITS
Switching or alternate or contra-lateral are the different synonyms represents the concept of duality. Physical movement on both sides demands the neural signaling from the cerebellum and basal ganglia through the frontal cortex. Many neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, cerebellar ataxia, etc., are often facing the problem of coordination and balance in activities of daily living. In general, the old age also suffers from such problems as per the natural aging process at cerebellum and basal ganglia. The same in coordination also happens to the youngsters at the intense situations like anxiety and depression where the demand and supply are imbalanced.
Hence it is required to bring a solution to balance the different parts of the brain naturally because in-coordination is not from external sources like infection and pollution. Here is a technique which is a simple alternate practice that balances both sides of the brain and results in the neutral function. It is “alternate nostril breathing” in English and is called as “Nadi-Sodhana Pranayama” in Sanskrit.
It is not enough to know the technique theoretically for an advanced practitioner and patients. Here we discuss the simple yet deep clues of performing the technique. We also focus on the sensations at each step to progress in the practice and to recover from problems.
Step-1: Sitting position with head, neck and thorax in line (Bhagawad Gita).
Step-2: Left hand in mudra like Chin mudra, Jnana mudra, Hrudaya Mudra, Adi mudra.
Step-3: Right hand in Nasika Mudra (bend index and middle fingers into palm and keep other fingers straight).
Step-4: Inhale from left nostril and exhale through right nostril followed by inhaling from right nostril and exhale through left. This is one round.
Grade-1: Inhale first to the abdomen followed by rib-cage and then to root of the neck and come back in reverse while exhalation. This is the technique of yogic breathing the combination of abdominal, costal and clavicular breathing.
Grade-2: Increasing the duration of inhalation or exhalation at each level with a specific duration can enhance the trachea-bronchial-tree muscles strength.
Grade-3: Introducing the Kumbaka, the breath retention at each level of yogic breathing can allow the muscles to work for long. By this, both inspiration and expiration improve the endurance of the tracheo-bronchial muscles (Involuntary).
How to do Retention of Breath?
These practices can be progressed with a duration of retention (Kumbaka) at three levels as 1:1:1 on inhalation and exhalation separately. So a total of 3 seconds of breathing and 3 seconds of retention during inhalation. Breath cycle will be completed in 12 seconds which gives 5-6 breaths per one minute. This long and deep breathing resulting in a low metabolic rate with much oxygenation. This, in turn, leads to energetic sensation than tiredness or gasping or breathlessness. This enhances the healing mechanisms and detoxification process by changing the solid formation process into liquid forming process and gas formation processes (Eg: Kreb’s cycle, Glucose cycle).
The ratio can be in the order of “Inhale : Retention : Exhale” as shown below to progress gradually and to attain control over the reflex activity.
Disease oriented Benefits:
- Improves Lung volumes like tidal volume (TV), inspiratory reserve volume (IRV), expiratory reserve volume (ERV), residual volume (RV).
- Improves the lung capacity like vital capacity (VC), total lung capacity (TLC).
- Improves trachea-bronchial muscles strength and endurance.
- Improves the coordination of diaphragm and the intercostal muscles.
- Improves sensation of respiratory center function and its fluctuations from brain stem.
- Balances the reflex action and allergy.
Benefits for daily life:
- Improves the sense of breath, width, and length of the breath.
- Improves the meditative sense.
- Its awareness leads to less anxiety and mood swings in general.
- Very easy to do at any time and any situation
- Safe practice for general wellbeing.
Benefits for Subtle level:
- Balances Pancha Pranas as mentioned in Ayurveda texts.
- Balances the Ida, Pingala, Sushumna nadis as mentioned in Indian texts.
- Balances the meridians (energy channels) as mentioned in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
- Reduces the Rajasic and Tamasic qualities and enhances the Sattvic qualities over a period of regular practice.
- Improves steadiness of mind and sense of being in the present.