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Nadi Suddhi - Meditation Breathing Technique
Nadi Suddhi is also called alternate nostril breathing. It can be used as part of a pranayama session, along with other breathing practices, or as part of a meditation. I first learned the technique at an Integral Yoga meditation and yoga retreat in 1976.
I find it very soothing and centering, hence its usefulness in meditation.
Preparation and finger positions:
If sitting on a cushion on the floor, have legs crossed and folded in and back straight. If sitting in a chair also sit with a straight back and place the soles of feet on the floor.
Close your eyes or let them relax so they are slightly open. Either way, do not strain.
Using either hand, (I use my right hand being right-handed), first stretch out your fingers and then bend in your middle and pointer finger (the finger next to your thumb).
What you are going to do is block off one side of your nose airway at a time.
Keeping your hand facing and over your nose like a floating hat, use your thumb to close one side of your nose, and your ring finger to close the other side of your nose.
Alternate left and right closure throughout the nadi suddhi session.
For the purposes of this lesson I'll explain using the right hand:
1. Put you hand in position over and near your nose, blocking off the left nostril, while breathing out through the right nostril.
2. Still keeping the left nostril closed, breathe in through the right nostril.
3. Now open the left nostril and close off the right nostril and breathe out.
4. Keeping the left nostril open, breathe in through the left side, close it off and breathe out through the right side.
5. The sequence keeps repeating: breathe out then in on one side; then out and in on the other side. The new side always begins with breathing out.
Note: I find it helpful to keep the upper arm of the hand I'm using leaning against my body for support.
Continue for a minute to begin and work up to a few minutes or what feels comfortable to you.
Nadi Suddhi takes some concentration so it is a good method to distract your mind from stressful problems.
If you are using this breathing technique for a few minutes at the beginning of your meditation session, move on to the even, regular breathing for the rest of your session and close your meditation with a deep breath in and slowly release it. Enjoy renewed feelings of harmony and balance.
Nadi Suddhi pronunciation: Nadi = short a, i as long e; Suddhi = long u, silent h, i as long e. Accent is on first syllable of both words.
Article and photo of Nadi Suddhi hand position by Susan Helene Kramer
I recommend this book by Sri Swami Satchidananda, which includes breathing practices. Read my review here:
Integral Yoga Hatha by Sri Swami Satchidananda
Sharpen your practices by subscribing to Integral Yoga Magazine, an ecumenical quarterly journal on yoga and meditation applied to daily life, inspired by its founder, Swami Satchidananda. Each issue contains knowledgeable in-depth articles by professionals in their field.
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