Balance the Mind and Body with Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate nostril breathing balances the mind and body. Use it when you feel disconnected from the present moment. It can reduce blood pressure and improve concentration!
We breathe without thinking, much like many of our daily routines left on auto pilot. While this keeps us alive, we can also lose ourselves in a zombie-like state while participating in life. You prepare food, drive, clean the house, do all the things and don't need to remind yourself to breathe! Nature has provided us with an incredible vessel in which we can function effortlessly!
Have you ever found yourself doing the dishes and thinking about a situation completely unrelated? Or you're driving your car and having a conversation over again that you already had!? Living outside of the present moment happens naturally, too. It's what the mind does. The mind creates thoughts. That's it's job. It maintains pathways by repeating the "motions" of where your thoughts go. It wants to be active. It wants to create thoughts! So, it will constantly think about things, experiences, worries, and what have you. It can also turn it's focus to the present moment, to the experience happening in your body.
The thing is, there are benefits and pitfalls to these facets of being human. Instincts like breathing help the body maintain function and animation! Thoughts give a basis to build and communicate our reality. Our thoughts are reality. The nervous system connects to what the mind experiences, along with the body. It can pay attention to both at the same time and live 2 different realities simultaneously.
You are washing the dishes. Nervous system senses this physical action.
Simultaneously.. you are thinking about a stressful situation at work. Nervous system senses this mental experience. You are experiencing the situation even though it isn't happening. Your brain responds to all the stimuli that goes with the situation regardless of when and where it actually happened. Since it's happening in your mind, your nervous system responds. Your stress signals still go off. Your reality is right there, in that situation. You are experiencing it all again.
Our reality reflects our thoughts. If we focus our thoughts onto something, that becomes our reality.
Focus on the breath and that is all that exists.
Yoga teaches many types of breath practices, or pranayama. The one I share today is called alternate nostril breath, or nadi shodhana pranayama.
The brain has two halves that house the sympathetic and parasympathetic sections of the nervous system. Nadi Shodhana breath reconnects the communication between the two halves. It restores balance to the body and mind. It grounds us in the present moment.
As we practice brea
thwork, our mind focuses on the inhale and exhale. We direct our thoughts to our present experience. We regain control of where our thoughts are, where our reality is!
This pranayama has many benefits.
calms mental chatter
reduces blood pressure
prepares the mind and body for meditation
brings grounding and balance to the body
How do you do it?
Sit upright with a tall spine
Left hand is in Gaian mudra, thumb and pointer finger touching in a circle
Right hand is in Vishnu mudra, thumb up, pointer and middle finger fold into the palm, and ring and pinky fingers up.
You can begin on either side. The left side is calming, the right side is energizing. Exhale completely and close one nostril. Inhale on that side.
Switch to close the opposite nostril and exhale on the opposite side.
Inhale on the same side, close and exhale the opposite side. Repeat the pattern.
Use your thumb and ring finger to close the nostrils.
Do this for about 5 minutes to feel the effects. Increase the time as you get more practice.
We can gain much from practicing alternate nostril breath when we feel out of sorts. We can also gain much more from practicing routinely as a way to nurture consistent balance in our nervous system. Give yourself a 5 minute break to breathe at least 4 - 5 times a day. Keep a journal log of how this makes you feel. Notice any changes in your mental chatter! In your blood pressure. In your sleep quality!
I employ this pranayama in many of the reiki sessions that I hold with clients. It soothes their minds and prepares the body to receive loving reiki vibes.
I would love to hear if you try this or if it's already in your practice.
Telles, S., Verma, S., Sharma, S. K., Gupta, R. K., & Balkrishna, A. (2017, December 29). Alternate-nostril yoga breathing reduced blood pressure while increasing performance in a vigilance test. Medical science monitor basic research. Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5755948/
Loewe, E. (2020, July 31). A 5-minute breath technique for a calm mind & balanced body. mindbodygreen. Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/alternate-nostril-breathing
Toner, J. (2020, May 10). Focus your mind, change your reality. Ekhart Yoga. Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/meditation/focus-your-mind-change-your-reality