Alternate nostril breathing (without khumbaka or breath holding). To alternate breathing through the nostrils you use a special mudra — a mudra is a hand position that elicits energy movement in your body. The mudra for Nadi Shodhana breathing exercises is called Vishnu Mudra — it makes the closing and opening of nostrils smooth and efficient.(Vishnu is the Hindu god who preserves the universe. He does this through an interplay of opposites; creation and destruction, male and female, dark and light. Uniting these qualities through yogic practices helps us keep a balance in our lives and live with more understanding of others and how we relate to them.)
In this mudra the right hand is used as it is associated with giving while the left is associated with receiving. However if for whatever reason you need to use your left hand during practice that is fine. The thumb and fingers rest lightly so very little movement is needed to close each side during practice.
Alternate nostril breathing is about bringing balance in our body and mind — balance in being extroverted and introverted, balance between our feminine and masculine sides. The mudra used for this is appropriately named after the god responsible for helping us with this balance.
How to Perform
Nadi Shodhana – place your right hand in Vishnu Mudra position on either side of your nostrils. Take your breath deep and slow like we do in padmasana (lotus) in closing in our yoga practice:
Inhale Left (closing the right nostril with your thumb),
exhale Right (closing the the left nostril with your ring finger),
Think L R R L. This is one round. Start by performing 10 rounds and gradually increase to what is comfortable for you.
You can use your left hand for counting, at the start of each round use a finger to keep track of how many you have done.