Nadi means the subtle energy channels of our body and shodhana means purification. Nadi shodhana, more popularly known as anulom vilom, is a very basic, simple yet a very important yogic technique.
During 2019-2020, when I first started meditating on chakras, this 5-10 minutes practice was something I did regularly. There was a time I did this 3-4 times a day – morning, afternoon and evening. It has a very good impact on health. Further, it also helps in proper channelization and handling of the energy that is awakened by mantra japa or any other Sadhana.
The practice –
Sit straight in a comfortable posture, you can keep your eyes closed to avoid distractions. Fold the index and middle fingers of your right hand and let the remaining be stretched. Keep the thumb on right side of nose and the ring and little finger on the left side. After a deep exhalation, press one side of nose, let’s say right, and breathe gently but deeply, without tensing your face muscles, from left nostril. The breath should go deep to belly button. Inhale for count 1-2. Now press left side too. Mentally, continue the count from 3-10. Then removing the thumb, exhale gently from the right nostril, mentally, counting 1-4. This is because the ratio of inhalation-hold-exhalation should be 1:4:2. If you are sitting in a silent room and have a wall clock, then you can tune your breathing to the tick-tick sound of the clock, this was what I used to do (Later the tick sound of clock became a problem in meditation, so I wished it to be removed and one day it broke, be careful what you wish for!). Then inhale gently from right nostril and repeat the process in reverse direction. This is exactly the way I used to do, even the same timings. One round on one side takes 2+8+4=14 seconds. So, if you repeat for 10 rounds on both sides, i.e. 20 rounds in total, it will take 14×20=280 seconds=4 minutes, 40 seconds < 5minutes. I basically used to do around 20 rounds.
Variation 1 –
This requires your eyeballs to be still. When I do this pranayama with open and still eyes, slowly, I feel a energy flow in my eyes and with every round tears flow from my eyes. These tears clear dullness and are very refreshing.
Variation 2 –
This I found last year when I was doing Gayatri mantra. I tried it and found that it’s timing almost matches the ratio of pranayama. You can do it along with mentally recalling the Gayatri mantra in following way –
Inhalation – ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः
Hold – तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि
Exhalation –धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्
This practice with or without any variation may sound very simple and easy but it requires great mindfulness. Slight lapse in mindfulness and you will lose track of count/mantra. So it’s better to start in silence.
Now, when I do this, I literally feel a cool current of energy flowing. One day, I realized that actually the right nostril called Surya Nadi increases heart beat and the left called Chandra Nadi slows down heart beat, which is what the texts of yoga say.
You can also do this, it just requires practice. It will give you a sense of control and understanding about your own body.