In this beautiful pranayama practice the autonomic nervous system is being carefully balanced via guiding i.e. manipulating, prana in a specific manner. This practice,is not as well known as alternate nostril breathing and can be found in the Prana and Pranayama text, by Swami Niranjanananda. It is well worth having this book in your collection of personal growth books because working with prana and pranayama consciously is an efficient, steady and uplifting means to personal/spiritual development.
It's a strange, but wonderful thing the way technical practices can so brilliantly effect spiritual growth.
Those of you who have been practicing alternate nostril breathing and using advanced ratios and big counts may have forgotten, over-looked, the therapeutic effects of this first-stage nadi shodana pranayama and the benefits it offers in steadying the mind. It offers beginners or advanced students alike, a practical and clear path into pratyahara, or alpha.
Please note : the duration of each breath is not counted in this stage of nadi shodana pranayama.
Instructions for nadi shodana stage 1
Sit quietly, preferably seated in a way which helps your body-mind to feel earthed (i.e. if possible sit on a folded blanket, on the floor. If not possible sit on a comfortable chair feet flat on the floor).
Place the left hand gently on the left knee, with the palm of that hand earthed onto the knee, the index finger and thumb connecting softly, subtly. Keep the left hand there throughout the practice.
Raise the the right hand up in front of the face, palm facing the face. Place the pads of the index and middle fingers onto the space between the eyes, just above the bridge of the nose. No pressure there, just a soft reassuring connection. The pad of the right thumb will be used for pressing the opening of the right nostril closed at the edge of the nostril, and, the pad of the right ring finger presses the opening of the left nostril closed.
ONE complete round - it has 3 parts
1 - Close the opening of the right nostril with the tip/pad of the right thumb - and feel the breath flowing in and out of the left nostril five times - feel the natural flow of each inhalation and exhalation.
Feel the sensation of the breath brushing the lining of the left nostril as you inhale. Count each of the five unhurried, peaceful breaths. And then . . .
2 - Close the opening of the left nostril with the tip/pad of the right ring finger - and inhale and exhale in the right nostril. Completely natural breathing. Do not not deliberately extend or slow it.
Total awareness of the sensation of the breath in the right nostril. Count each of the five unhurried, peaceful breaths . . . then
3 - Lower the right hand to the knee, relaxing both arms . . . and now with both nostrils open continue inhaling and exhaling in both nostrils simultaneously.
Follow each inhalation and exhalation flowing in and out, soft breath on the lining of both nostrils, simultaneously. Count each one of these five easy, peaceful breaths in both nostrils.
You have now completed ONE round of nadi shodana stage 1.
Ideally do not rest between rounds, simply go straight on into the second round. Then the third. Flow smoothly from one round ending, into the next one.
If it does feel necessary to rest between rounds - then do so - keeping the eyes closed. When ready raise the right hand to the eyebrow centre and begin a new round.
Continue on to complete between 1 and 4 more rounds - as it feels right for you.
With practice continues, and familiarity, the breath will naturally become slower, deeper and more rhythmic, allow this to happen naturally - don't make it happen.
As the breath relaxes and slows, each complete round will take a little longer to complete.
Five rounds of nadi shodana stage 1, will probably take approx. 2-3 minutes for a beginner to complete. For someone who has become very familiar with the practice, it will take more like 3-5 minutes.
Use completely natural breathing, allow it to relax and express itself. Do not deliberately extend, deepen, slow or control the breath in any way in nadi shodana stage 1.
Practice nadi shodana stage 1 regularly for 3 months and then go to Nadi Shodana stage 2.