Breathing the Stress Away with Nadi Sodhana: Alternate Nostril Breathing

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Breathwork has become one of the most transformational tools that I have found to deal with tough times, bring in big ideas, and connect to my truth and inner guidance. To be honest, this work has been one of the most impactful experiences in my life.

We all live with stress… And as much as we dream about a life where we would never have to experience it, this ideal is not realistic in the world we live. Stress happens. However, what we can do is learn simple tools to calm the mind, settle the body, and reset ourselves to a peaceful, balanced state, anytime.

Breathwork, known as pranayama, has long been used in many forms to heal, restore, and support various physical, emotional, and mental imbalances. The best thing about it? t’s free and easily accessible at a moment’s notice!

One of my favorite techniques, which Ayurvedic wisdom suggests for this fall (Vata) season, is Alternate Nostril Breathing, “Nadi Shodhana”.

Nadi shodhana literally means clearing and purifying the subtle energy body in Sanskrit. It simply involves inhaling through one nostril and then exhaling through the other nostril. Then inhaling through the second nostril and exhaling through the first, continuing this pattern. 

Within only a few minutes, you can restore your balance and ease within the mind and body.


  • Calms the mind and reverses stress
  • Lowers anxiety
  • Improves focus
  • Rejuvenates the nervous system
  • Removes toxins
  • Balances both hemispheres of the brain, clearing energetic channels

You can easily use this breathwork technique before an important event or exam, an interview or an important meeting where you need greater focus. Or if you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, anxious, or your kids just won’t stop fussing, take a few moments and treat yourself to this simple practice. 

What is healing about nadi shodhana is that it helps balance the left and right side of the brain and also the left and right energetic pathways of the body. Under stress, these imbalances can show up in surprising ways; one minute, you may feel an angry outburst arising and the next, mental fog. These feelings can feel as erratic as stress itself.

There’s nothing like a quick and calming way to bring you back to center… you have this at your fingertips!


  • Find a comfortable seat…making sure your spine is straight and heart open
  • Rest your left palm comfortably in your lap
  • Curl your right pointer and middle finger into your hand, allowing your right thumb to rest over right nostril and your ring finger over your left nostril
  • Close your eyes, take a slow deep breath in and out through the nose
  • Then close your right nostril with your thumb, inhaling slow and steady
  • Hold at the top for a few moments
  • Then close your left nostril, slowly and gently exhaling out the right side
  • Then inhale through the right. Hold. And exhale through the left
  • Repeat 5-10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow your inhales and exhales
  • Pause for a moment, closing your eyes

Take a moment to feel and notice, what are you feeling? What sensations are coming up? What emotions are you feeling, if any? Do you notice a change since before you started?

As with many things, this practice becomes easier and more impactful with time and consistency.  But it can be done any time of the day!  You may feel the most benefit by practicing in the morning before starting your day or in the evening as you wind down before bed. Boost the benefits even further by applying YouVeda’s My Essential Oils: Mood to your inner wrists, enhancing the calming effects throughout your entire mind and body.

By finding balance with breathwork, grounding the nervous system, and allowing yourself some “breathing room”, you gift yourself a precious moment to pause and reflect. Simply put, you will be able to move throughout your day with grace; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Give it a try! Take a deep breath in. Let it all go. Resetting yourself to be calm, grounded, and at ease…from this moment forward. 


Author: Carolyn Crews (YouVeda Wellness Contributor)

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