Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate nostril breathing brings awareness to the flow of air that moves through each of our nostrils at any given time. This may seem insignificant, but it actually is very important. Breathing through each nostril brings a different benefit. The left nostril encourages relaxation and calm, the right nostril energizes our overall system, and alternate nostril breathing is helpful in balancing the two hemispheres of the brain. It improves sleep, brings clarity, and returns balance to the body. Alternate nostril breathing is a beautiful preparation for meditation.
- Here are some other benefits of this potent breath:
- Calms the nervous system
- Regulates the cooling and warming systems of the body
- Quickly energizes the body, mind, heart, and spirit
- Helps counter insomnia
- Brings awareness to feelings and emotions in the present moment
To do the practice:
- Sit cross-legged or in a chair or stand in a comfortable position.
- Relax your left arm and rest your left hand in your lap with the palm facing up or in Gyan mudra, index finger to thumb.
- Lift your right hand to your nose and close your right nostril with your right thumb.
- Inhale through your left nostril and at the top of the breath close your left nostril with your index finger and exhale through your right nostril.
- Inhale through your right nostril and then close your right nostril.
- Open your left nostril and exhale through the left side.
- This is one cycle.
- Continue for 3–11 minutes.
- Always complete the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.
Close the practice by releasing both nostrils and taking a deep breath in. Hold the breath for a count of ten, then exhale slowly.
Alternate nostril breathing is a practical tool to apply to your life. Do it before your meditation practice to deepen your spiritual experience or take it into your day to support you in a stressful moment or when further clarity and balance are needed. Find the way that best suits you at any given time.
My work views all the elements of being a human—the physical, emotional, and mental—as deeply intertwined… It is from this whole-person perspective that we can best identify the underlying causes of our struggles and empower ourselves to heal.