I know everyone is telling you to breathe. And I know how annoying it can…
If you’ve been spending time with us here at pstprtm, you know we have a thing about breath. And for good reason. Breathing is the most direct way to communicate with our autonomic nervous system (ANS). This gives us some control over our state of mind and well-being within the chaos that is postpartum and parenting.
One breathing technique that works wonders? Alternate nostril breathing. As the name states, this is a Yogic breathing practice where you alternate nostrils on your exhale. Now, you might be thinking… “Really? This does something?”
Yes, yes it does!
Here’s a wild fact. Our nostrils naturally alternate dominance every few hours or so. At those transition times, they balance each other. They balance each other much like the sun balances the moon, the masculine balances the feminine energy, stimulating active and receptive energy, heating and cooling, yin and yang.
Practicing alternate nostril breathing can bring balance into your body and stillness to your mind. When you allow yourself to drop into this practice fully, you can feel the changes happening in your physical and energetic body.
Yogic scripts offer the option to choose which nostril you start inhaling with based on the results you want. Are you looking for calming or activating? Heating or cooling? Which nostril we focus our breath on impacts which energetic centers we are stimulating.
If you’re looking to heat things up and activate your physical energy, concentration, and digestion, the right nostril, aka Pingala Nadi, is for you.
This energy is associated with sun energy or Surya, which you may be familiar with from Surya Namaskar or sun salutations in Yoga class.
Here’s how to get started:
To harness the power of Pingala Nadi, sit with your spine straight in a comfortable sitting position. You are welcome to use a block or cushion to help keep your spine straight.
Close your left nostril with your left thumb.
Your right hand is relaxed on your leg or you can take Surya Mudra – where the tip of the ring finger is at the base of the thumb with the thumb gently covering it.
Make sure your chin is in line with your sternum so that you are not tilting your head to one side.
Take long, deep breaths both in and out through the right nostril for two to three minutes.
If you’re more interested in calming, cooling effects, the left nostril, or Ida Nadi, is associated with the moon’s energy. It’s cooling and associated with a more internal, feminine, nurturing energy. This practice will support refueling, replenishing, and connecting to the latent power of consciousness.
Left nostril breathing is really calming, known to minimize stress, and help quiet an anxious or racing mind. This is perfect before bed.
It helps to reset the parasympathetic nervous system allowing your brain to calm down, get grounded, and surrender to safety. It helps redirect your circulation, sending blood away from the extremities (no need to run right now) and toward the core in order to metabolize, digest, and prepare for sleep.
Repeat the above breathing practice on the other side to connect to Ida Nadi.
During this practice you are welcome to inhale and exhale out of the same nostril only, or inhale through one nostril and exhale through both.
This practice can be done any time of day and is often recommended 2-3x a day to bring harmony and recalibration.
To read more about how breathing is the magical solution to everything here. And we’d love to hear what you think! Have you tried this practice before? How does it feel for you? Click here to let us know.