Learn the Basics of Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing, known as Anuloma Viloma Pranayama in Sanskrit, is an extremely effective breathwork technique to bring the body into balance.

To practice the technique, bring your right hand into Pranayama Mudra, where the forefinger and middle finger are drawn to the center of the palm, and the thumb and outer two fingers are drawn closer to each other. This mudra, or hand position, allows you to plug your nostrils to breath out of one nostril, and not the other, at any given time. You use the thumb to plug the right nostril, and the ring and pinkie fingers to plug the left nostril. You will be plugging and unplugging one nostril at a time in succession as you breathe.

Draw the right hand up to the face in Pranayama Mudra, and begin by plugging the right nostril. We begin our Anuloma Viloma by inhaling through the left nostril. At the top of the inhale, plug the left nostril, and exhale through the right. At the bottom of the exhale, inhale through the right nostril, keeping the left nostril plugged. At the top of the inhale, plug the right nostril and exhale through the left. This completes one round. This is a little confusing if you have not practiced it before, so don't worry if you're having trouble.

It goes like this:

Inhale Left Nostril, Exhale Right Nostril, Inhale Right Nostril, Exhale Left Nostril

As you are inhaling or exhaling through one nostril, the other nostril stays lightly pressed shut by either the thumb or the outer fingers.

Once you have completed one round, you can continue for 3-5 rounds, or more depending on how you are feeling. Make sure you don't get lightheaded, and if you do, stop and resume normal breathing. Don't jam the nostrils shut, it is a very light press to close off the nostrils. This practice is effective to balance the energetic, physical, and mental bodies.

From an energetic perspective, you bring balance to the ida and pingala nadis.

From a physical perspective, you bring balance to the parasympathetic and sympathetic portions of the autonomic nervous system.

From a mental perspective, you bring balance to the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Have fun practicing alternate nostril breathing,

-Andrew Morris