Nadi Shodana

Nadi Shodana


Etymology and meaning

Nadi Shodana. Shodana शोधन (śodhana). The act of cleaning, the means of purification, removal (of dirt), purification, clearing up, correcting; refining, purifying, cleansing, purgative. Nadi Shodana is also known as 'Alternate Breathing"



Nadi shodana is a practice of nadi purification. It is often practiced in the beginning of sessions but it is especially a long-term used daily.

The practicing position is a comfortable sitting position with the back straight. Then, the right hand is traditionally used as follows:

The second and third fingers are used together and lightly put on the forehead.
The fourth and fifth fingers are flexed together and oppose the thumb. In this way, the thumb closes the right nostril and the fourth and fifth fingers close the left one.
The movement between these three fingers is alternate.

The technique involves the alternate closing of nostrils with the hand gesture. During the alternate movement, the fingers do not loose contact with the flap of the nose.

The eyelids are closed and the eyes are slightly above the horizontal line, as if the vision was directed towards the fingers on the forehead.


Nadi Shodana Left Nadi Shodana Left Top
Nadi Shodana Nadi Shodana Right Top


Basic technique:

  1. Exhalation through both nostrils
  2. Closing left nostril; inhalation right nostril
  3. Closing both nostrils; full retention
  4. Closing right nostril; exhaling left nostril
  5. Closing right nostril; inhalation left nostril
  6. Closing both nostrils; full retention
  7. Closing left nostril; exhalation right nostril
  8. Closing left nostril; inhalation right nostril
  9. Closing both nostrils; full retention
  10. Loop; come back to # 4.

Counting technique

See Visamavritti

  1. Inhalation: 3 units
  2. Full retention: 3*4 = 12 units
  3. Exhalation: 3*2 = 6 units
  4. Empty retention: 0

Once familiar and comfortable with this simple sequence, one can start expending the units, still respecting the proportions between them: 4/16/8/0, 5/20/10/0, and so forth.

The mental count must never be forced or hurried. If the length followed generates discomfort, drop units.

In the beginning, the pranayama last about 3 minutes. For a deep purification work, it can be easily expended to 10 and even 25 minutes (one Gatikha).

This practice harmonizes the energetic balance between left and right breathing. It purifies the circulation of the energy carried through the breathing in the main ida and pingala nadis (left and right nadis).

Note: it is important to practice this technique so that the breathing reaches what is called the “small pranayama” where the beat is 8/32/16/0 (about 1 min15’’ or 1 min30’’ per breathing) for about 6 to 10 breathings.


Higher Version


Gesture: the second and third fingers are bent. The small finger is as vertical as possible, detached from the other fingers. The thumb and fourth finger are facing one another and used to close alternatively the right and left nostrils. The eyelids are closed and the eyes are oriented towards the glabella point.

Visualization: The cycle of day and night, Sun and Moon, is visualized. The sun is represented here by the red circle in the stomach area, and the moon by the blue circle in the heart.

  1. Exhalation, deep through both nostrils. The prana goes to a focal point in the center of the abdomen
  2. Inhalation through the right nostril. 4 matra. Development of the Sun in the abdomen
  3. Full retention. 16 matra. Focus on the abdomen while slightly moving the center forward. Perception of the diurnal qualities such as warmth, activity and Sun.
  4. Exhalation through the left nostril. 8 matra. The sun is absorbed through the left in a point in the heart where it becomes cold
  5. Inhalation through the left nostril. 4 matra. Development of the Moon in the heart.
  6. Full retention. Focus on the heart center, while slightly moving it forward. 16 matra. Perception of the nocturnal qualities such as coolness, intimacy, full moon.
  7. Exhalation through the right nostril. 8 matra. The moon is absorbed through the right in a point at the level of the abdomen where it becomes warm.
  8. Loop; come back to # 2.

When comfortable, bring the duration to 5/20/10/0, 6/24/12/0, 7/28/14 and finally 8/32/16/0. This last duration is that of the small pranayama where true yoga begins (2 breathing every 3 minutes). At this level, when comfortable, there is true passage into the subtle effects of pranayama and powerful experience of the visualization of the interplay of the sun moon cycle.