The Holidays can be a stressful time, and though we’re busy and we might be tempted to drop our meditation practice, we need it in hectic times more than ever!
Although this practice is in fact a “pranayama” (breathing exercise), I see it as a meditative practice as well, since a very basic practice involves observing our breath.
Nadi Shodhana, or “alternate nostril breathing”, is a great practice to build upon. You can start with simply breathing in one nostril and out the other for a few seconds, aiming to have the same length of the in and out breaths. I feel like 4 seconds is a great “balanced” start. You can lengthen as you build confidence and expand your lung capacity (i.e. as you learn to breathe with all your muscles, intercostals and
diaphragm). If you do not have a medical condition contraindicating breath retention (e.g. pregnancy, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, heart conditions, chronic anxiety, etc.), you can certainly grow this practice by adding short or equal length breath retentions between sides (e.g. inhale, hold, exhale on the other side, inhale on this new side, hold, exhale on the other side).
Nadi Shodhana purifies the blood and respiratory system by increasing the oxygen intake and circulation. This pranayama is also great to relieve headaches, improve concentration and help balance the nervous system.
So when you need to “take a breather”, this is a great one to sneak off and practice, even if it’s just 1 minute, hiding out in the bathroom during an eventful family dinner… 😉