Nadi Sodhana Pranayama Yoga?

Nadi Sodhana, defined as alternating nostril breathing, may prove advantageous for singers and teachers. Iyengar defines the term nadi as a passageway similar to a vein or artery in the body. The term Sodhana refers to the purifying of the nadi. The two words can be defined as the cleansing of the nerves. Iyengar suggests that nerve blockage is similar to an obstructed water pipe. Blocked nerves result in a lack of vital blood flow and prana energy. The clotted nadi may eventually cause

discomfort to an organ or the breathing apparatus or throat of a singer. Desikachar suggests that this breathing technique should not be practiced if the individual has a cold or any type of nasal blockage. The author states that the focus of this breathing technique, as with all pranayama, is the exhalation. He emphasizes that when the student is unable to breathe silently and slowly, he is not ready for any exercise of pranayama. Iyengar suggests that there may be a mental or physical block. The student is instructed to address all physical and mental issues before continuing with any pranayama

  1. Close the right nostril with the right thumb and inhale through the left nostril.
  2. Release the thumb.
  3. Close the left nostril with the right ring and pinkie fingers and exhale through the right nostril.
  4. Inhale through the right nostril and repeat the sequence, exhaling and then inhaling through the left nostril

Unlike Ujjayi breath, which may be practiced for any duration of time, Nadi Sodhana takes time to complete. The breath is to be steady and unforced. The first cycle ends when the last of the exhaled breath leaves the right nostril. After one round of alternate breathing from both nostrils, the second cycle can begin. Iyengar suggests that this technique consist of eight to ten repetitions of the complete breath cycle described above.

Nadi Sodhana has multiple benefits for the singer. The breathing technique prepares the body to receive larger amounts of oxygen in the blood stream, which may calm the nadi. The technique might also benefit the mind of the singer by creating a sense of balance between the brain hemispheres. Lister explains:

The alignment of brain hemispheres can be very advantageous to singers who need to utilize the right brain to realize an intuitive, inspired, and risk-taking performance while the linear, logical left brain helps them to remember their lyrics and/or staging. Singers should use this technique for balancing both the brain and the breath

Nadi Sodhana may prove beneficial for calming the mind and respiration. Singers and teachers contend with hectic schedules that tire the mind. Performance psychologist Alma Thomas works with singers on overcoming a host of mental distractions. In the book, Power Performance for Singers, she collaborates with voice teacher Shirlee Emmons (1923-2010), as they explore body-mind awareness of the singer. Professional singers and college voice students frequently fail to see the body-mind connection which, when out of balance, may impede musical preparation. The authors suggest being aware of the demands of the mind and what it is saying. They recommend that singers learn how to identify physical tension. A rigid body makes it difficult for the mind to remain calm. Singers are considered singing athletes, and similar to sports athletes, must be sentient to any physical complications

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