Alternate Nostril Breathing

Your body only breathes out of one nostril at a time.  If you notice that when you have a cold, only one side of your nose is stuffed and then it will switch throughout the day.  This is because our breath goes in ninety minute cycles.   Place your forefinger and middle finger together under your nostrils.  Notice which side that your breath is coming through.  

The left side called ida (ee-da) is the relaxation side, the right side, called pingala, being our alert and stressed side.  The body needs an equal combination of these two states to maintain balance.  Most people have disturbances in this breath cycle.  This breathing exercise will help to balance out those disturbances and bring balance to the body and mind.  Many people with a deviated septum, who have allergies or asthma, or who suffer from high blood pressure or heart disease have seen great improvement and at times full reversal of these conditions with the use of alternate nostril breathing.

Benefits:

  • Improves our ability to focus the mind
  • Supports our lungs and respiratory functions
  • Restores balance in the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and clears the energetic channels
  • Rejuvenates the nervous system
  • Removes toxins
  • Settles stress

When to practice:

  • Anytime of the day
  • When you feel foggy and are having trouble concentrating
  • If you feel a cold coming on

When to avoid:

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How to perform:

1. Sit up straight in a chair or on a pillow or meditation cushion.

2.  Relax your right arm and hand down to your side.  Bend the forefinger and middle finger of the left hand, the pinky and ring fingers together (or stacking the pinky on top of the ring finger if you can), opening the hand and separating the thumb.  

3. Release all the air out of the lungs with a deep exhale. Then inhale to prepare the body.

4. On the exhale, close off the left nostril with the pinky and ring finger. Inhale.  

5. Now switch as you close off the right nostril with the thumb as you exhale, then inhale again.  

6. Switch nostrils again, closing off the left nostril with the pinky and ring finger, then close off the right again with the thumb.  

Repeat five to ten times, keeping the shoulders relaxed and the spine lifted.