Technique 1: Preparatory practice
Sit in any comfortable meditation posture, preferably siddha/siddha yoni asana or padmasana.
Keep the head and spine upright.
Relax the whole body and close the eyes.
Practise yogic breathing for some time.
Adopt nasagra mudra with the right hand and place the left hand on the knee in chin or jnana mudra.
Close the right nostril with the thumb.
Inhale and exhale through the left nostril 5 times.
The rate of inhalation and exhalation should be normal. Be aware of each breath.
After completing 5 breaths, release the pressure of the thumb on the right nostril and press the left nostril with the ring finger, blocking the flow of air.
Inhale and exhale through the right nostril 5 times, keeping the respiration rate normal.
Lower the hand and breathe 5 times through both nostrils together.
This is one round. Practise 5 rounds or for 3 to 5 minutes, making sure that there is no sound as the air passes through the nostrils.
Practise until this stage is mastered before commencing the next stage.
Begin to control the duration of each breath.
Count the length of the inhalation and exhalation through the left, right and both nostrils. Breathe deeply without strain.
While inhaling, count mentally, “1, Om; 2, Om; 3, Om”, until the inhalation ends comfortably.
While exhaling, simultaneously count, “1, Om; 2, Om; 3, Om”. Inhalation and exhalation should be equal.
Practise 5 rounds or for 3 to 5 minutes, making sure that there is no sound as the air passes through the nostrils.
Notice that the length of the breath will spontaneously increase after some days of practice.
When the count reaches 10 without any strain, go on to technique 2.
Contra-indications: Nadi shodhana is not to be practised while suffering from colds, flu or fever.
Benefits: Technique 1 increases awareness of and sensitivity to the breath in the nostrils. Minor blockages are removed and the flow of breath in both nostrils becomes more balanced. Breathing through the left nostril tends to activate the right brain hemisphere; breathing through the right nostril activates the left hemisphere. The long, slow, balanced breathing of stage 2 has profound effects, calming and balancing the energies.
Practice note: Both nostrils must be clear and flowing freely. Mucous blockages may be removed through the practice of neti. If the flow of breath in the nostrils is unequal, it may be balanced by practising padadhirasana as a breath balancing technique (see Vajrasana Group of Asanas). Beginners should be familiar with abdominal breathing before taking up nadi shodhana.