This is one of the very first breathing exercises taught in a yoga class. Nadi, as we discussed in chapter 3, are like nerve channels for the passage of prana, and sodhana means ”to cleanse. This is a natural extension of the Single-Nostril Breathing Exercise and a good way to begin or end the day. It purifies the nadis, and calms and helps focus the mind.
1. Sit comfortably in the Easy Pose.
2. Make the Vishnu mudra position with your right hand.
3. Inhale through the left nostril to the count of four.
4. Close the nostrils and hold the breath to a count between twelve and sixteen. You may need to work up to this count.
5. Pinching off the left nostril, exhale through your right nostril to the count of eight.
6. Inhale through your right nostril to the count of four.
7. Close the nostrils and hold the breath to the count of sixteen.
8. Still pinching off the right nostril, exhale through the left nostril to the count of eight.
9. Repeat four to eight times.
10. Breathe normally.
Bill DeMello was a manager for an international corporation when he took his first yoga class in San Diego in the 1970s. “The asana were difficult for me. I’m big and hulky with nil flexibility in my body. It was the pranayama that really felt good. I attended classes at the Self Realization Fellowship, which focused a great deal on breathing and meditation. Pranayama has helped me cope with numerous changes throughout my life relocation, children leaving home, deaths in the family, and midlife job loss. I happily left the corporate world years ago for nonprofit; less money, more peace of mind. The simple lessons of pranayama have helped me rein in the stress and offered me a greater appreciation for nature and for what’s in front of me.”