Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadishudi Pranayama)


Nadi means ‘channels’, shudi means ‘cleanse’. Nadishudi meaning cleansing nadis (the energy channels). It comes under the passive pranayama category. This practice helps to balance energies on right and left side of the body and brain, unblocks nostrils and sinuses, cleanses and strengthens the lungs and respiratory system.  Retention of breath helps for the highest gas exchange rate in lungs. And exhalation helps the lungs to eliminate carbon dioxide and other waste products from the body.

In this practice, there are 3 steps – Pooraka (Inhalation), Kumbhaka (Holding or retention of breath) and Rechaka (Exhalation) with a ratio 1:1:2. Means if you inhale for 4 seconds, then hold for 4 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds.

Preparations for practice:

Sit in Sukhasana (Lotus pose) or Vajrasana or any other comfortable position with your spine and back straight, chin straight, shoulders and neck relaxed. You may sit on a cousin or pillow for your comfort. Only use your nose to breathe in and breathe out. Preferably closed eyes throughout the practice.

Mudras used in this practice:

  • Chin mudra: Left hand in chin mudra. Soft-touch of the tip of the index finger and thumb. Other finger straight and relaxed, palm facing upward and resting on the left knee.
  • Nasika mudra: Right hand in Nasika mudra. Bend your index and middle finger, tips of these fingers gently touch the palm. Other fingers straight and keep them relaxed. The thumb finger is used for closing and opening the right nostril and the last two fingers use for closing and opening the left nostril.


Step 1: Starts in the left nostril – By closing right nostril, take a slow and deep inhalation through your left nostril for 4 seconds or counts.

Step 2: Hold the breath – Now hold your breath by closing both nostrils for 4 counts.

Step 3: Exhale through right nostril – Now release your right nostril and exhale slowly and completely for 8 counts.

Step 4: Inhale through right nostril – After 8 counts continue the practice with a slow and deep inhalation through the right nostril for 4 counts.

Step 5: Hold the breath – Now hold your breath by closing both nostrils for 4 counts.

Step 6: Exhale through left nostril – Now release your left nostril and exhale slowly and completely for 8 counts. Here completed the first round of Nadishudi Pranayama. Repeat the same for another 4 rounds.

After complete 5 rounds of Nadishudi Pranayama’, release mudras of both hands and rest your palms cupping on knees, breathe normally and rest for 30 seconds. Relax, focus on breathing and notice the changes in your breathing rhythm. Here you completed ‘Nadishudi Pranayama’. 


  • Unblocks the nostrils and sinuses
  • Cleanses the lungs and respiratory tract
  • Clears and stimulates the energy channels of body
  • Restores body’s natural rhythm and balance
  • Calms the nervous system and reduces stress and anxiety
  • Increases lung capacity and strength
  • Enhances vitality and overall wellbeing
  • Helps in hypertension, diabetes, insomnia, headaches, migraines, asthma and other respiratory issues.