Stress can happen at any moment and more times than not it happens when were unable to completely disengage from the scenario, take a walk or do a twenty minute meditation. Stress happens at the least opportune times like right before you have to give a speech, at work with a co-worker or driving.
This powerful breathing exercise is perfect to counteract the effects of acute stress on the spot. When the wallstreeter needs a quick reset, when a parent needs a break, when finals are around the corner or when you simply don’t want to get in a fight with your partner here’s the best remedy I recommend.
Nadi Shodhana also most commonly known in the west as Alternate Nostril Breathing, which is a form of Pranayama. This breathing exercise flips the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic system, relaxing excitations while promoting clarity and peace.
Although it’s ideal to find a serene space and sit in a comfortable position this isn’t what this meditation is about. Alternate nostril breathing can be done anywhere at anytime in any position to help you counteract stress. However, unlike other meditations you can do this one wrong.
Follow the basic intro steps below closely to access clarity, recenter and acquire skill sets to prevent chronic stress.
Alternate Nostril Breathing, Step-By-Step
- Find a place you will be able to fully focus on your breath. Whether in a cubicle, a bathroom stall or at home on a meditation pillow the most important thing is your concentration and connection with your breath.
- Using the right thumb, softly close the right nostril, and inhale as slowly as you can through the left nostril, then close it with your ring finger. Pause. Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril. There are many different finger positions you can use, pick which one feels best to you.
- With the right nostril open, inhale slowly, then close it with the thumb. Pause. Exhale through the left nostril. Once your exhalation is complete, inhale through the left. Pause before moving to the right.
- Repeat this pattern five to ten times, and then release the right hand back down to your side and move back to normal breathing.
It’s been demonstrated that the nervous system already begins to switch to the parasympathetic nervous system within three breaths*. Talk about a quick fix! Alternate Nostril Breathing is a great tool to keep in your arsenal to help you destress from high impact moments, prepare for a deeper meditation, brush off the jitters and even combat chronic stress.
*Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research