Nadi Shuddhi

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Nadi Shuddhi Mean?

Nadi Shuddhi refers to the cleansing of subtle channels through which vital life-force energy (prana) travels in the body. The term is derived from two Sanskrit roots, nadi meaning "flow," or "channel" and shuddhi meaning "cleansing" or "purifying." The cleansing can be performed via a pranayama breathing technique known as nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing.

Whilst nadi shuddhi refers to cleansing in itself, nadi shodhana is the name of the practice through which the cleansing occurs. The two terms are often used interchangeably to refer to the pranayama practice, in which alternate nostrils are closed off on both the inhale and exhale, allowing the breath to travel through one side of the nose at a time.


Yogapedia Explains Nadi Shuddhi

According to yoga and Ayurveda, vital life force energy known as prana travels along energy pathways called nadis. Whilst there are said to be 72,000 of these channels within the subtle body (pranamaya kosha), there are only three primary nadis; ida, pingala and sushumna, corresponding with the left, right and central line of the body respectively.

Nadis converge at various energetic vortices known as chakras, and practices such as breath control (pranayama), energetic locks (bandhas) and seals (mudras) can be used as a means of moving, locking and sealing prana to restore balance in body and mind. Nadi shuddhi helps to keep these pathways clear, in order to allow prana to flow freely.

Besides cleansing the nadis, nadi shuddhi is believed to have the following benefits:

  • Balances the right and left sides of the brain.

  • Strengthens the lungs.

  • Improves blood circulation, thereby improving the function of the rest of the body's organs.

  • Increases energy.

  • Calms the nervous system, reducing stress and anxiety.

  • Helps to remove excess body heat.

  • Boosts the immune system.

  • Stills the mind.

To perform nadi shuddhi via alternate nostril breathing, it is important to sit in a stable posture such as padmasana (Lotus Pose) or sukhasana (Easy Pose) in which the spine can remain upright, thereby allowing prana to flow through the ida, pingala and sushumna nadis. The left hand can rest in chin mudra, whilst the right hand performs vishnu mudra in front of the face.

Beginning with an inhale through the left nostril, the thumb is used to gently close the right nostril. The thumb is then released and the ring finger used to close the left nostril, allowing the exhale to release through the right side.

This semi-circular motion of breath is then repeated from right to left, completing one round of nadi shodhana. For maximum cleansing benefit, this pranayama should be practiced for at least three to five minutes.

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