Nadi Sodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

This simple yoga breathing exercise can be done virtually anywhere, anyplace.  Yogis believe that this exercise will clean and rejuvenate your vital channels of energy, thus the name nadi sodhana (purification of nadis, or channels).

With this exercise, we breathe through only one nostril at a time. The logic behind this exercise is that normal breathing should alternate from one nostril to the other at various times during the day. In a healthy person the breath will alternate between nostrils about every two hours. Because most of us are not in optimum health, this time period varies considerably between people and further reduces our vitality. According to the yogis, when the breath continues to flow in one nostril for more than two hours, as it does with most of us, it will have an adverse effect on our health. If the right nostril is involved, the result can be mental and nervous disturbance. If the left nostril is involved, the result can be chronic fatigue and reduced brain function.


  1. The exercise helps to produce optimum function to both sides of the brain: that is optimum creativity and optimum logical verbal activity. This creates a more balanced person, since both halves of the brain are functioning properly.
  2. The yogis consider this to be the best technique to increase focus and to calm the mind and the nervous system.

How to do it:

In right hand, place the pointer finger and middle finger at base of thumb.  Keep ring finger and pinky together.  Your fingers in this position will almost form a “C”

  1. Place thumb over right nostril and press so that right nostril is closed.
  2. Breathe in easily through open left nostril for a count of four.  Then gently pinch both nostrils closed and hold breath for a count of 16.
  3. Remove pressure off of right nostril and breathe out easily for a count of eight, then breathe in for a count of four.
  4. Then gently pinch both nostrils closed and hold breath for a count of 16.
  5. Switch back to previous position with thumb over right nostril.  Breathe out of your left nostril for a count of eight.  You are now back where you started.
  6. Repeat whole process three more times.

This practice can be done one to two times a day, mornings upon rising and evenings before bed are best.