“If one wants to lead a spiritual life, this very pranayama is sufficient. It will steady the way to mediation and samadhi.” ~ Swami Satyananda
Mudra: Nasagra Mudra - right hand, index and middle finger rests on the eyebrow center; thumb is near the right nostril, ring and pinkie fold next to the left nostril (this is the suggested mudra by the Bihar Yoga folks but I typically use Vishnu mudra, which is folding the index and middle finger to the palm and extending the ring and pinkie - having the palm so close to my face makes me claustrophobic); left hand in jnana mudra at left knee (index finger folded to root of thumb - creates a small circle)
- Several rounds of yoga breath
- create the intention of clearing the ida and pingala nadi
- close the right nostril with the thumb, take 5 breaths through left nostril. Be aware of each breath. Keep the breath silent.
- close the left nostril with the ring finger, same instruction as right.
- This is one round. Practice up to 5 rounds, depending on time constraints.
Alternate Nostril Breathing:
- create the intention of balancing the ida and pingala nadi
- continue with Nasagra Mudra (or Vishnu mudra)
- close the right nostril with the thumb, inhale through the left, count mentally but breathe without strain.
- Close left nostril with ring finger and release the thumb from the right nostril, exhaling through the right nostril, counting on the exhale. Match the inhale and the exhale.
- Inhale through the right nostril, keeping the same count. At the end of the inhalation, close the right nostril and open the left nostril.
- Exhale through the left nostril. This is one round.
- Practice 5 -10 rounds.
A good rule to remember is to always close the nostril following the inhale.
This is the basic practice. If you want to go deeper, please see Prana and Pranayama; Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, Yoga Publications Trust, Ch. 19, Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.
DISCLAIMER: The following is a pranayama meditation that I made up, so consider this with a certain “grain of salt”. That being said, I have found it to be very beneficial.
For the following, please see the figure above.
For this meditation, an understanding of the 7 primary chakras and the 3 primary nadis, the ida, the pingala and the sushumna is necessary.
- The muladhara chakra is both the body’s energy generator and the abode for Shakti, the personification of energy.
- The jivatman, or individual consciousness, is contained within the anahata chakra.
- The sahasrara chakra is the abode of Shiva, the personification of consciousness.
- The goal of this meditation is to visualize the unification of Shakti and jivatman with Shiva.
- This is the dawning of self realization.
- Immediately following Nadi Shodhana, visualize the ida and pingala as being perfectly clear, flowing equally. Visualize the ida as taking in the moon energy, see it as calming and cooling. Visualize the pingala as taking in the sun energy, see it as warming and vitalizing.
- Visualize the mahaprana traveling down the ida and pingala, filling the muladhara chakra. Visualize kundalini shakti as a sleeping serpent. As mahaprana fills muladhara, see shakti begin to stir.
- Full inhale and retain. Visualize shakti moving and beginning to rise up sushumna, moving into svadishthana chakra. Exhale.
- Full inhale and retain. Visualize shakti rising up sushumna, moving into manipura chakra. Exhale.
- Full inhale and retain. Visualize shakti rising up sushumna, moving into anahata chakra. Visualize shakti merging with jivatman (visualize jivatman as a tiny you). Exhale.
- Full inhale and retain. Visualize shakti and jivatman rising up sushumna, moving into vishuddi chakra. Exhale.
- Full inhale and retain. Visualize shakti and jivatman rising up sushumna, moving into ajna chakra. Exhale.
- Full inhale and retain. Visualize shakti and jivatman rising up sushumna, moving into sahasrara chakra. See shakti and jivatman merging with Shiva. Exhale.
- Stay with the visualization of all that you are merging with cosmic consciousness. Repeat the visualization 5 times while retaining your breath.
I’m sure this seems super complicated but if you’ll stick with it, you’ll get proficient enough at it to do it in 5 to 7 minutes.