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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

As we flow into May, we celebrate a month centered around Mental Health Awareness. Life can be #teamtoomuch sometimes, and your mental health can take hit after hit, so developing tools for mental resilience, clarity, and calm are paramount to not just surviving, but THRIVING. Breath work, or Pranayama, as you might hear it called in class, involves ancient techniques that have stood the test of time, for good reason. One of those forms of breath work is Nadi Shodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breath. 

This breath is all about finding equanimity of the mind, by balancing and grounding the nervous system. It is believed the right nostril represents the heat of the body, the Sun side, and masculine energy, while the left nostril is tied to cooling aspects, the Moon, and femininity. Practicing Nadi Shodhana can induce a state of calm by balancing these two energies that are always flowing through your body. The term “Nadi” refers to those energy channels and the term “Shodhana” means purification. 

You might notice throughout the day that one nostril is more open than the other, due to a phenomenon known as the nasal cycle. This is completely normal and the dominant nostril will actually switch every few hours several times throughout the day. Keep this in mind as you practice alternate breathing and may notice that it’s harder to get air in through one nostril than the other. Allow this as an opportunity to slow the breath down and be patient with the process. And maybe keep a tissue on hand to clear out the nasal passage before you practice or even during, if build up makes it difficult to continue.

To Practice Nadi Shodhana:

1. Sit comfortably in an Easy Seat with a straight spine

2. Use your thumb to cover your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril to the count of 4 or 5

3. Before removing your thumb, cover your left nostril with your ring finger and then release your thumb from the right nostril to breath out slowly

4. Inhale through the right nostril and cover it with the thumb before releasing the ring finger and exhaling through the left nostril

5. Repeat this alternate breathing for 5-10 cycles using steady, mindful breaths 

This Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s embrace the power of breath work as a gateway to mental clarity and emotional balance. By nurturing our breath daily, we nurture our minds and create space for clarity and peace to emerge. So take a deep breath, and let the journey begin.

Visit our Instagram for a guided tutorial on this breath- @peaceloveandyogawellness

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