Nadi Shodhana


Nadi Shodhana is the Pranayama practice of alternate nostril breathing, to cleanse and purify the subtle energy channels (Nadis) for Prana to flow freely through the subtle body.  Nadi Shodhana brings two of the main energy channels Ida and Pingala into balance, and the central Nadi, Shushumna, begins to flow, facilitating meditation.


Ida Nadi flows through the left nostril, and Pingala Nadi flows through the right nostril. Ida equates to the Lunar and introspective side of our nature, while Pingala equates to our Solar and extrovert side of our nature. Prana is induced to flow through the third main channel, Shushumna Nadi, only when the breath, or Prana is equal between left and right nostril and Nadis.

Nadi Shodhana
Pranayama & meditation Yoga Dharma


Yoga science tells us there are 72,000 Nadis, of which the three main Nadis are described above. The remainder are fed via the Chakras, which are located along the spinal column. Ida and Pingala Criss cross the Nadis starting at the pelvic floor and culminating at the eye brow centre. There are 6 Chakras, Mooladhara (pelvic floor) Swadhisthana (pelvic bowl) Manipura (navel) Anahata (heart centre) Vishuddhi (throat) and Ajna (eyebrow). The Chakras have their area of responsibility and effect the functions of the gross body. The Chakras all correspond to major nerve plexuses in the body, which in turn send signals throughout the body.


Nadi: Subtle energy channel

Shodhana: Purification

Sitting comfortably bring your awareness to the flow of your breath at the tip of the nose. Practice until you are comfortably able to bring your attention to your breath.

Stage 1

  1. Hold Nasagara Mudra (nose mudra) and breath evenly (Sama Vritti) through both nostrils.
  2. Close the right nostril and breath through the left nostril only
  3. Reflect on stage a
  4. Close the left nostril and breath trough the right nostril only
  5. Reflect on stage d

Stage 2

  1. Hold Nasagara Mudra and with the right nostril closed and inhale through the left nostril. Close the left nostril and open the right nostril and breath out. Inhale through the right nostril and open the left nostril. Close the right nostril and breath out through the left. This is one complete round

Stage 3

  1. Repeat stage 2 and include an even count to each nostril, while adding a second or two without straining.

Stage 4

  1. Repeat stage 2 and increase the exhale and no more than double the inhale.

Stage 4

Add Breath retention (Antar Kumbhaka)

Antar: inner

Kumbhaka: breath retention.

Begin with Nasagara Mudra and inhale through the left nostril with right closed, close both nostrils and retain the breath. Hold without straining, then open right nostril and exhale. Inhale through the right nostril and close both nostrils and retain breath. Open left nostril and exhale. One round.

Stage 5

Continue stage 4 and increase gradually without straining.

Stage 6

Continue stage 5 and begin to increase the exhale up to double the inhale without straining.

Stage 7 add Moola Bandha (pelvic floor lift) and Jalandhara Bandha (throat lock)


  • Kumbhaka, or breath retention, either antar (internal) or bahir (external) improves tolerance to starvation of oxygen and a build-up of carbon dioxide. Kumbhaka, when practiced for a duration of time, allows the body to retain carbon dioxide and become used to reduced oxygen levels to achieve hypo-metabolism, which is the slowing down of the metabolic rate. There is a reduction in Carbon dioxide causing a subtle effect on conscious control of breathing. The effect is there is a reduced need to breathe with the build-up of carbon dioxide.


  • This is a basic introduction to Nadi Shodhana, and the complexity and variations are added with practice and experience.
  • Nadi Shodhana forms part of a complete Hatha Yoga practice, that includes Shat Karmas, Asana, Bandhas and Mudras.
  • Contraindications: Pranayama, specifically Nadi Shodhana, can release suppressed emotions (see Kleshas) and practice should be under the guidance of an experienced teacher.
  • Always keep the breath below the bottom of the neck, as taking the breath into the head will cause intracranial pressure.
  • Its not unusual to experience a blockage in one or other nostrils, which can make the practice challenging. This is quite normal, and with a gradual and diligent practice the in balance will decrease. Alternately practice Anuloma Viloma.

Martin Thompson


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