The ULU Yoga Blog

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing


In the wake of the global pandemic, our once-familiar world has undergone a metamorphosis, leaving many grappling with the challenges of change. As the tumultuous tides of uncertainty continue to ripple through society, ancient wisdom offers a beacon of hope, illuminating the path toward resilience and adaptability. The ancient practice of yoga, with its focus on the union of mind, body, and spirit, offers a suite of tools and techniques designed to harmonize our being with the ever-changing environment. Among these, pranayama – the art and science of breath control – holds particular promise for those seeking to navigate the post-pandemic landscape with grace and equanimity.

Derived from the Sanskrit words “prana” (life force) and “ayama” (extension or control), pranayama has been a cornerstone of yoga practice for millennia, offering practitioners a means to regulate their vital energy and achieve balance amidst the ebb and flow of life’s challenges. As the philosopher Heraclitus once observed, “The only constant in life is change.” Indeed, it is through our ability to adapt to the vicissitudes of existence that we find strength and resilience. As the world emerges from the shadow of the pandemic, the teachings of pranayama offer a timely and practical means of embracing change, fostering emotional and mental well-being, and cultivating a sense of inner peace.

Post-Pandemic Self-Care as a Path to Renewal

As we collectively navigate the uncharted territory of a post-pandemic world, prioritizing self-care becomes an essential aspect of our journey towards healing and reintegration. By engaging in practices that nurture our body, mind, and spirit, we foster resilience and cultivate the inner resources necessary to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of life. Post-pandemic self-care transcends simple acts of physical pampering, encompassing a holistic approach to well-being that includes mindfulness, emotional self-awareness, and purposeful self-compassion. In doing so, we not only empower ourselves to overcome the challenges that lie ahead, but also contribute to the collective healing and growth of our global community.

The Science of Pranayama and its Impact on the Nervous System

The benefits of pranayama extend beyond the realm of the esoteric, with a growing body of scientific research attesting to its physiological and psychological effects. One key area of investigation is the impact of pranayama on the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which governs the body’s automatic functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. The ANS is divided into two branches: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), responsible for the “fight or flight” response, and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), responsible for the “rest and digest” response.

Research has shown that regular practice of pranayama can help to balance the ANS, reducing the overactivation of the SNS and enhancing the function of the PNS (Brown & Gerbarg, 2005). This is of particular relevance in the context of the post-pandemic world, as many individuals grapple with heightened stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. By modulating the activity of the ANS, pranayama offers a means of restoring balance and promoting relaxation, equipping practitioners with the mental clarity and emotional stability needed to adapt to changing circumstances.

Furthermore, studies have demonstrated the potential of pranayama to enhance cognitive function, improve mood, and alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety (Telles et al., 2016). These findings align with the teachings of ancient yoga texts such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, which emphasize the role of breath control in calming the mind and attaining a state of inner tranquility.

Pranayama Techniques for Adapting to a Post-Pandemic World

As we collectively strive to navigate the uncharted waters of the post-pandemic era, several pranayama techniques stand out for their potential to foster resilience, equanimity, and adaptability. These practices, grounded in ancient wisdom and validated by modern science, offer a means of harnessing the power of the breath to cultivate inner balance and navigate the currents of change.

Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is a pranayama technique that has been shown to balance the hemispheres of the brain, promoting mental clarity and focus. By harmonizing the flow of energy through the body’s subtle channels, Nadi Shodhana fosters a sense of equilibrium, which can be invaluable for those grappling with the challenges of a post-pandemic world.

To practice Nadi Shodhana:

  1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine and relaxed shoulders.
  2. Close your right nostril with your right thumb, inhale slowly and deeply through your left nostril.
  3. Close your left nostril with your right ring finger, release your thumb, and exhale through your right nostril.
  4. Inhale through your right nostril, then close it with your thumb, and exhale through your left nostril.
  5. This completes one round. Continue for 5-10 rounds, focusing on the flow of breath and the sensation of energy moving through your body.

Ujjayi Pranayama (Victorious Breath)

Ujjayi Pranayama, also known as the Victorious Breath or Ocean Breath, is a powerful technique for calming the mind and building resilience in the face of change. The distinctive sound created during Ujjayi breathing helps to anchor the mind, encouraging mindfulness and present-moment awareness.

To practice Ujjayi Pranayama:

  1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine and relaxed shoulders.
  2. Inhale deeply through both nostrils, slightly constricting the back of your throat to create a gentle hissing sound.
  3. Exhale through both nostrils, maintaining the constriction in your throat and continuing the hissing sound.
  4. Repeat for 5-10 breaths, focusing on the sound of your breath and the sensation of energy moving through your body.

Bhramari Pranayama (Humming Bee Breath)

Bhramari Pranayama, or Humming Bee Breath, is a soothing technique that helps to quiet the mind and cultivate inner peace. The resonant vibrations created during Bhramari can help to alleviate stress and anxiety, promoting a sense of calm and equanimity.

To practice Bhramari Pranayama:

  1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine and relaxed shoulders.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself.
  3. Place your index fingers on the cartilage between your cheeks and ears.
  4. Inhale deeply through your nostrils, then exhale while making a low-pitched humming sound, like the buzzing of a bee.
  5. Repeat for 5-10 breaths, focusing on the sound of your breath and the sensation of vibrations in your head.

Pranayama for Stress Relief

In a world characterized by constant stimulation and mounting stress, pranayama serves as a gentle yet effective antidote to the overwhelming pressures of daily life. By consciously manipulating our breath, we can directly influence our physiological and emotional responses to stress, encouraging a sense of calm and equilibrium. As we develop a consistent pranayama practice, we enhance our ability to remain centered and grounded in the face of adversity. By harnessing the transformative potential of breathwork, we can release accumulated tension, foster emotional resilience, and pave the way for a more balanced and harmonious existence.

Mindfulness Breathing Techniques for a Balanced Life

Our world is filled with distractions and constant demands on our attention. Mindfulness breathing techniques offer an accessible and transformative tool for cultivating inner peace and clarity. By guiding our awareness to the ebb and flow of our breath, we anchor ourselves in the present moment, allowing thoughts and emotions to arise and dissipate without judgment or attachment. This practice not only reduces stress and anxiety but also enhances our ability to navigate life’s challenges with a sense of calm and equanimity, fostering overall well-being and mental balance.

Unshakable Spirit: Yoga for Emotional Resilience

Yoga, with its rich tapestry of physical postures, breathwork, and meditation, provides a comprehensive approach to cultivating emotional resilience in an increasingly complex world. By uniting the body and mind, yoga allows us to access deeper layers of self-awareness, empowering us to better understand and process our emotions. As we move through various asanas and cultivate a regular meditation practice, we build inner strength and flexibility, allowing us to face life’s challenges with grace, courage, and adaptability. Through the practice of yoga, we develop the emotional resilience necessary to thrive in a world marked by uncertainty and change.

Embracing Wholeness: Holistic Coping Strategies

As we traverse the myriad facets of our existence, holistic coping strategies offer an integrative approach to managing stress, adversity, and the complexities of modern life. These strategies encompass various modalities, including mindfulness practices, physical movement, balanced nutrition, and self-reflection, providing a well-rounded framework for nurturing our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. By incorporating holistic coping strategies into our daily routines, we foster a sense of inner balance and harmony that enables us to face life’s challenges with confidence and resilience, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and authentic existence.


As we venture forth into a post-pandemic world marked by change and uncertainty, the ancient practice of pranayama offers a practical and effective means of fostering resilience, adaptability, and inner balance. By harnessing the power of the breath and integrating these techniques into our daily routines, we can cultivate the mental clarity, emotional stability, and spiritual fortitude needed to navigate the challenges ahead with grace and equanimity.


Brown, R. P., & Gerbarg, P. L. (2005). Sudarshan Kriya Yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression: Part I-neurophysiologic model. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11(1), 189-201.

Telles, S., Sharma, S. K., & Balkrishna, A. (2016). Blood pressure and heart rate variability during yoga-based alternate nostril breathing practice and breath awareness. Medical Science Monitor Basic Research, 22, 161-171

Ulu Contributor

Ulu Contributor

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