Alternate Nostril Breathing aka Nadi Shodhana

Brief Breath Exercise to Relax Instantly

Opening: Sit tight and perform this breath to calm your nerves quickly.  Do this before an interview, a big presentation, an important exam, or before any high pressure situation to prep your nerves.  The left nostril is key here as it contains the Ida nerve ending which is essentially a direct pipeline to the parasympathetic nervous system, calming you very quickly.  I’ve done this exercise in as little as 10 seconds, but time permitting as long as 5 minutes.


Preliminary: Sit with an upright posture, either seated in a chair, on the floor, or lying on the floor

  1. Hold up the thumb of your dominant hand up against your right nostril
  2. Pressing your thumb against the right nostril, take a breath in through the left nostril for a count of four
  3. Remove your thumb off of the nostril and at the same time, place your ring finger on the left nostril, hold for one count
  4. Breath out of the right nostril for a count of 8, or double whatever the in breath count was (3/6, 4/8, 5/10, etc.)
  5. Keep your ring finger on the left nostril and breath in the right nostril for four counts.  Repeat steps 2-4 four times or longer depending on how much time you have.

Special Notes: Be sure to sit up straight and breath using your belly rather than your chest. It’s helpful to focus on having a calm/soft belly.  Becoming a belly breather may take some practice over time, but keep at it daily.  Also, don’t force the breath in or out, but rather breathe naturally.

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