Nadi Shodhana Benefits & How Alternate Nostril Breathing Works

Including How To To Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.

Plus, see the powerful brain waves generated, & benefits created.

Nadi Shodhana benefits are what you get from nadi shodhana breathing pranayama. In short, it’s breath meditation using alternate nostrils. It’s also called nadi shodhana pranayama. See also the nose clasp used in Iyengar yoga pranayama practice.

Each nostril has a separate and different “pathway”. So, it makes sense that directing your breath through those different pathways can have very different effects.

Nadi shodhana breathing purifies the channels of energy in the body, restores balance to the body, and creates a feeling of peace in the mind.

It’s a powerful breathing practice that also dissolves feelings of anxiousness, irritability and unease.

How to do Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is in a section towards the end of this post. Plus, you’ll see the nose clasp used in Iyengar yoga pranayama practice.

First, there is a quick outline of Nadi Shodhana benefits, in summary.

Summary: What are the benefits of Nadi Shodhana?

It leads to more meditative state (via affecting brain waves), leading to better energy, de-stressing, mood, memory, & sleep. It also helps heart issues, anxiety, weight loss (via mindful eating), inner peace, & mental balance.

Below, you’ll also see a diagram summarising the many benefits of Nadi Shodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breathing.

Plus, there are pictures of the brain waves that are expanded by Nadi Shodhana. In turn, these brain waves affect your parasympathetic nervous system (shown below), leading to the benefits you experience.

Alternate nostril breathing is easy and effective, as also outlined below.

Nose clasp used in Iyengar yoga pranayama practice.

nadi shodhana benefits

In alternate nostril breathing, gentle pressure by the thumb, ring finger, & little finger, is used to open & close your nostrils, so as to regulate air through separate & different nasal “pathways”. This clasp is used in Iyengar yoga pranayama practice. (It’s different from some other clasps you may see).

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What is nadi shodhana breathing?

In Sanskrit, nadi shodhana means ‘purification of the nerves’.

It’s a digital pranayama that’s done by applying a particular pressure on the nose with the thumb, index and ring fingers.

The picture above shows how to use your fingers to do this clasp. Notice it’s also a unique nose clasp used in Iyengar yoga pranayama practice.

The pressure of the thumb and fingers regulates the flow of inhalations and exhalations alternatively though both nostrils.

The early yogis discovered it as a way to shift the flow of energy in the body.

At the same time, nadi shodhana breathing rejuvenates the body and mind.

The many benefits of the various forms of pranayama have now been scientifically proven.

In Iyengar yoga, this practice is usually taught after you’re familiar with Ujjayi (done lying down), and Viloma pranayamas. These pranayamas are about inhaling and exhaling the breath in stages.

Alternate nostril breathing is another version of inhaling and exhaling in stages. But it is one where you are using the pressure of the fingers to regulate the flow of air in and out through the right and left nostril.

Iyengar yoga pranayama practice benefits to nervous system

Your parasympathetic nervous system, is activated more by Nadi Shodhana. In turn, it generates a wide range of benefits for you. See them in the next diagram. 

Overview of how alternate nostril breathing works

Yogi’s  discovered that the brain is divided into the right and left hemispheres.

Nadi Shodhana is an ingenious way to shift energy up the spinal column.

The practice also balances hot and cold energy channels. The right nostril is the heating channel, and the left is the cooling channel.

Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) ensures that neither channel is dominant. This helps restore balance to the left and right sides of the brain.

Nadi Shodhana benefits

This type of pranayama breathing often shifts students’ attitude to pranayama. The nadi shodhana benefits can come quickly, and are very apparent. Better sleep, plus calmness and focus, are some of the quick benefits that students mention.

You’ll find the physical process of breathing via alternate nostrils, and its impact, to be a mentally engaging practice that totally “consumes” your mind while you are doing it.

As you may know, mindfulness is also an apt description of this process. The great thing about nadi shodhana is that when you do the process, then the benefits of this breathing, including a type of mindfulness, will follow.

Because nadi shodhana pranayama starts with a physical process, and one that requires focus, your “monkey mind” is much less likely to interrupt the outcomes you are working to achieve.

What you get is a rewiring of the brain. If you are feeling scattered and frenzied, then in just a few cycles of this pranayama the mind becomes settled, calm and reflective.

nadi shodhana benefits

What are the benefits of Nadi Shodhana? It leads to more meditative state (via affecting brain waves), leading to better energy, de-stressing, mood, memory, & sleep. It also helps heart issues, anxiety, weight loss (via mindful eating), inner peace, & mental balance. 

Sit straight via a chair or cross legged

The spine needs to be straight, and your chest needs to be able to expand easily.

You can achieve this either by sitting upright in a chair, or sitting cross legged. When a chair is used, or even when sitting cross legged, don’t lean back against anything that will constrain the easy expansion of your chest.

If you are sitting cross legged, then your spine obviously needs to be strong. That’s why such sitting pranayamas are sometimes only done after doing considerable amount of time doing yoga.

Using a chair is a sufficient alternative, and will get you the benefits of nadi shodhana much earlier than otherwise.

Start with a few cycles of nadi shodhana breathing and build up overtime.

Iyengar yoga pranayama practice

Alternate nostril breathing demonstrated by Christine Lalor, Senior Iyengar Yoga Teacher, and Yoga Therapist. She’s using the nose clasp used in Iyengar yoga pranayama practice, as shown in the picture above.

How to do nadi shodhana pranayama

  1. Sit in a comfortable upright position with the spine erect. Apply the chin lock (jalandhara bandha). Sit on a chair with a straight back, or sit cross legged. If you are cross legged, sit on some height, like a folded blanket.
  2. Bring the right hand up, and place the tip of the right thumb in the hollow below the septum bone of the right nostril. Then place your ring and little finger in hollow below septum of the left nostril. Above, see the picture of the finger clasp I’m describing.
  3. Partially block both nostrils.
  4. Breath in and out through both partially blocked nostrils for a few rounds.
  5. Block the left nostril completely.
  6. Narrow the right nostril and breath out through the right.
  7. Then, inhale slowly and steadily, through the partially blocked right nostril.
  8. When the lungs are full, block the right nostril.
  9. Hold the breath for a very small pause (whatever is comfortable for you).
  10. Partially open the left nostril and breath out through a now partially opened left nostril.
  11. Breathe in through the left, and out through the right.

Then, repeat the same alternate nostril breathing routine.

Finer points about getting Nadi Shodhana benefits

Notice that the left hand is not used. It can sit in your lap, or lie to the side.

Plus, the tip of the index finger, or middle fingers, are folded inwards, and not used. (See the hand position picture at the top of this page).

There can be a little breath retention at key points, but its not critical.

Experiment to get a routine that’s comfortable and do-able for you. You’ll get better at alternating very quickly.

When you’re learning, you may also want to lower the hand and take breaks between each round.

Once you’re proficient at it, you can use the routine for several minutes, then pause, and then do another few rounds of it, or more.

Overtime, with practise, you will be able to refine the pressure of the fingers on the nostril, and the narrowing of the nasal passages.

Be sure to keep your fingernails trimmed.

After the practice, lie down in Savasana or relaxation pose.

Nadi Shodhana benefits flow from brain wave changes

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alternate nostril breathing

Additional Alpha (green), and Theta (orange) brain waves are generated by Alternate Nostril breathing. That’s why it delivers the many of the nadi shodhana benefits outlined above, and also summarised in this picture.

Classes on how to do nadi shodhana pranayama

Flametree yoga teaches two pranayama classes each week. These classes regularly teach and do nadi shodhana breathing.

But, in addition, you’ll also learn several other powerful pranayama techniques.

All classes are LIVE online, and in-the-studio in Darwin, Australia.

Students find online pranayama is very effective and convenient.

The two pranayama classes are at 6.30am on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Here is the Flametree timetable with these times in your time.

You can check it out with a FREE first class.

The classes are taught by Chris Lalor, a certified Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher. She has 12,000 hours of teacher training, and 25 years of experience with her own pranayama practice.

Chris has spent decades studying and practising pranayama. It’s one of her great passions, due to the huge benefits it has personally delivered for her.

Access subtle energy channels

Nadi Shodhana is another of the pranayama practices that has wonderful effects on the human body heart rate, and so much more.

When yoga practice, and meditation practice, are combined, with Nadi Shodhan Pranayama included, it a great way to get the maximum positive effect of this alternative breathing technique.

By the way, it’s best to practise on an empty stomach.

As you may know, deep breathing is always good, but alternate-nostril breathing is a new dimension for the entire body.

Give this ancient practice a try, and get all the many benefits of alternate nostril breathing.

If you’re still considering “what are the benefits of Nadi Shodhana?”, then let’s summarise, or re-state, or draw out some of the main benefits again. They include:

  • improved energy levels
  • help with heart disease issues
  • your mind feels refreshed
  • all respiratory function is improved
  • bringing you into the present moment more
  • improved cognitive function
  • mind calm and moderating a quick temper
  • decrease in nasal congestion
  • improved stress response and reduction of stress levels
  • reducing high blood pressure
  • ​overall health.

So, try this simple yet powerful technique, ideally by daily practice, together with yoga asana practices, and see what this yogic breathing technique can do for you.

It’s hard to believe that it all flows from the nose clasp used in Iyengar yoga pranayama practice, or any other clasp you’re used to using.

alternate nostril breathing

Theta and Alpha brain waves are expanded, and Beta waves are relatively reduced. Among many other benefits, you therefore have less anxiety.

B.K.S. Iyengar advocated regular practice of pranayama

Along with asana practice, Mr BKS Iyengar, formulated the style of breathing exercises in the Iyengar tradition.

He considered that daily pranayama practice should start in a supine position, and then progress to a seated position, and of course finish with corpse pose.

As the founder of Iyengar yoga, he wrote a whole book on the subject of pranayama, and the art of breath control. (Light On Pranayama).

He wrote another on the Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali.

​He considered that for most people, normal breathing was too shallow.

So he used yoga postures to extend the chest, prior to a student of yoga even starting Ujjayi Pranayama.

​His daughter, Geeta Iyengar followed in the footsteps of Mr Iyengar, and taught Iyengar yoga teachers, and others, for decades.

Flametree packages that include alternate nostril breathing

Pranayama is available to non-beginners at yoga, or beginners with 3 months of yoga experience.

Use one of the packages below to start or re-start yoga.

The 4 types of HALF price 10 packs, for new or lapsed non-beginners, are the most affordable classes of all. These deals include super cheap concession and online only options.

If you’re an existing student, you can also use any of your regular class package to come to any of these classes.

Some students even upgrade their packages so they can do pranayama as well as their regular yoga classes. All Flametree packages are listed are on our yoga pass list.

Doing both breath meditation and yoga will definitely increase the benefits you get.

But, if needed, motivate yourself some more by looking again at what are the benefits of Nadi Shodhana, above.

Including Nadi Shodhana breathing in your practise is another case of that old adage that two and two make five.

Breath Meditation 4 Class VIDEO Introduction. Learn more.

HALF price non-beginner 10 pass options. For new or lapsed,  (10 X $9.75 a class)

All Flametree price & packages, including ten passes


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One Reply to “Nadi Shodhana Benefits & How Alternate Nostril Breathing Works”

  1. It is efficient in improving memory power, focus, and concentration. Nadi Shodana have to be practiced between two nostrils by holding one and releasing air through the other. It may be a bit difficult during inital days but it is a very effective breathing exercise.

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