Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Pose of the Month:  Nadi Shodhana Pranayama 

With Chrisandra Fox

Photography: Faern, Faernworks.com

When the dance of life has us falling off center, how we find it again? Yoga teaches us that while we may not always be able to change our external conditions – in the moment – we can manage our energy to directly influence our state of mind.

Prana, our intelligent life energy or “the original breath” facilitates all our physical life processes and influences our mental state. Yoga says that to understand your mind, get to know your prana, or life’s energy. In order to know your prana, get to know your breath.

Prana flows in channels, or nadis, throughout the body. According to the tradition, there are 72,000 of these channels. Of these, three are most important for the purposes of hatha yoga: the solar channel (pingala), the lunar channel (ida), and the central channel (sushumna nadi).

The sun channel . . . The moon channel . . .and the central channel, or the Supreme Highway . . .

Practicing nadi shodhana breath can help balance the ida and pingala, thus bringing both mind and body to the same place, where we might realize our true sense of center.

The Pranayama

Sit in siddhasana, or another pose in which you can be seated with an elegant spine. Draw your left foot in. . .

As you inhale, lengthen your spine. As you exhale, draw your chin in toward your chest. Lift your sternum toward your chin to create jalandhara bandha. This position will help to contain the energy while you breathe.

Bring your left arm out and rest your hand on your left knee. Press the thumb and index finger together lightly to create jnana mudra. This seal creates a . . .

Bend your right arm and draw the index and middle fingers to the base of your right thumb. You’ll use your right thumb and the ring and pinky finger of your right hand to alternately block the right nostril and the left nostril. As you block one side, keep the finger of the opposite side resting on the upper part of the nasal passageway, so that you can slow down the flow of breath. Your fingers stay on your nose throughout each side; you’ll uncover the lower part of the nasal canal to create a long thin stream of breath as you inhale and exhale.

Bring your right thumb to the right side of your nose and close off the right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril. Close off your left nostril with your third and fourth fingers, open your right nostril and exhale through the right nostril.

Inhale through your right nostril. Press your thumb against the nose, slide your third and fourth fingers lightly along the bridge of your nose and exhale through your left nostril.

Inhale through your left nostril. Close off your left nostril, open your right nostril and exhale through your right nostril.

Inhale through your right nostril. Close off your right nostril, exhale through your left.

Inhale through the left. Close off the left, exhale through the right.

Continue . . .

  • Chrisandra Fox is pursuing a yogic path of liberation and shares these practices in 5 weekly classes at Yoga Tree. She is a primary teacher in Yoga Tree’s 200-hour Teacher Training and leads The Heart of Renewal Retreats.
  • Faern is an Artist, yoga practitioner and Photographer in San Francisco. Besides making as much time for tea as possible, you can find Faern in a yoga class, at her current art show or wandering the city via public transportation. You can visit her in various places online: FaernWorks website, Twitter, Facebook, Faern in the Works Blog.
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