Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana): What? Why? How?

Beyond Before & After 2.0: Alternate Nostril Breathing

Beyond Before & After 2.0: Alternate Nostril Breathing

BBA 2.0 Let's Get Woo, takes the last 18 months of life changes/new experiences/self-care and adds a layer of, well, WOO.

Sometimes, I forget to breathe. Naturally, my body keeps doing it because, you know, autonomic functions and all. But I forget to take my breath into my lungs, even down to my toes. I get caught up in my day, my flow, my thoughts, and stresses, and just forget to take those deep breaths. Breathing keeps us alive. It oxygenates our blood. It brings. Our lungs and hearts dance in perfect unity to keep our brains functioning and bodies moving. 

Breathing truly is life.

We can bring intention and technique to the way we breathe. How woo does that sound?  But intentional breath work can increase circulation, mental clarity, energy, and impact our ability to process stress. And we all know that stress is a thing we need to learn to manage because it just won’t go away on its own. I mean, unless you somehow live in a luxury hut in Bali with a self-sustaining staff of people who intuitively know all of your needs before you express them and have been born into the most low-key, supportive family of all time. And if that is your life, then please, give me your secrets. Also, include tips for how to have a career without any angst. Kthxbye.

Deep breaths do wonders. I’ve taken about seven deep breaths in the last 10 minutes. I feel the angst melting off my body; my mind is perking up, and damnit if I don’t want to have a little afternoon delight with my boo. Because guess what else is improved with breath work? Sex drive.

Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi breath in ayurvedic terms) is a specific technique that can be used to stoke your energy or cool you down. For Joni, our favorite EIC who is fiery fire with a side of fire, aka Pitta, I wanted her to use this technique to help cool down, manage stress, and CTFD. I sent her this YouTube video because coordinating simultaneous finger placement and breathing can be a little tricky. (Especially if you’re a moron.)

To cool down, take deep, steady breaths. Inhale and exhale in equal measure. You can count if that makes it easy. Breathe in and out for a count of 8-10, depending on your lung capacity. This is perfect for pitta, summer, calming anxiety, cooling down body temperature, bringing balance to unstable situations.

To warm up, breathe in deep and exhale forcefully while engaging your core and diaphragm. This will help you warm up from the inside out, and is my favorite winter breath, If you have high blood pressure, though, be cautious with this technique. This is perfect for vata, pitta, fall, and winter, decreasing mental fog, speeding up digestion, increasing body temperature, and temporarily lifting heavy feelings.


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So Carrie was all “I want you to try Nadi Shodhana.” And I was like “that sounds like a delicious Indian dish.”

Spoiler alert: Not food.

No, it’s breathing.

Like with your nose.

So she was like “I definitely want you to do this Indian Dish breathing.” And I was like, “FINE. I’d rather have a snack but also breathing sounds good.”

I hear you saying, but you’re already breathing.

It’s true, but alternate nostril breathing is not regular old breathing. This is like Breathing 2.0. Advanced Breathing. This is like the AP Calculus of respiration.

Carrie said it would help me manage stress and “cool me down.” That’s great because I am both very stressed out and also perimenopausal, so I’m in a constant state of hot flashing anxiety attack.

We had this conversation via text while I was at the beach for the day. I was sitting in the sand. It was warm. The waves were rolling in and out. There was a whale just off the pier, spewing snot into the air (myth buster: it’s not water). There was a seagull trying to steal my sandwich. It was all a very beautiful scene.

At the time, I was thinking, I don’t even need this; I’m never stressed.


Turns out, that was just the beach talking. Monday morning something ridiculous happened at work — a contract thing was missing. It wasn’t a huge deal, but maybe I was coming down off my beach high too hard or something because I LOST MY SHIT.

Out of nowhere, I was having a panic attack. ALSO because this happened as soon as I got up, I hadn’t had my ghee/water cocktail OR done yoga. I am telling you I was so sideways I didn’t realize until the next morning that I had missed the two things that started this whole thing off.

Monday morning was the perfect time to implement this new skill.

You should know something about me. I cannot walk and chew gum. My son gave me two drumsticks the other day and was like “do this with one and do this other thing with the other one,” and I was like “I’m sorry. I don’t speak music.”

So with the alternate nostril breathing, you have to use your finger to plug one side, and then a thumb, and inhale/exhale and so forth.

I am not even kidding when I say it took me a solid five minutes just figure it out.

The good news is, I was so focused on figuring it out that my panic attack went away.

The bad news is, I am a moron.

I’ve used the Nadi However-You-Spell-It, several times this week. And you know what? IT TOTALLY WORKS.

It either works because it’s like activating both sides of my SO left-sided brain or it’s just distracting. But whatever it is, I like it.

Next week in BBA 2.0: WHEAT. ELIMINATION. Plz help.

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Drink your water, boos.

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