I first learned about pranayama while working with an ayurvedic practitioner. Pranayama is breath work. It is a Sanskrit word meaning “extension of the life force.” Alternate nostril breathing is a pranayama that I use often. I always feel more relaxed and balanced afterwards.
Did you know that we don’t breathe equally through both nostrils? We tend to favor either the left or right nostril. The left nostril is for calming and the right is for energy.
Your nose is directly linked to your brain and nervous system. Breathing in through your left nostril will access the right “feeling” hemisphere of your brain, and breathing in through your right nostril, will access the left “thinking” hemisphere of your brain. Consciously alternating your breath between nostrils will allow you to activate and access your whole brain.
Benefits of alternate nostril breathing:
- Calms the nervous system
- Improves sleep
- Helps to harmonize left and right brain hemispheres
- Cleanse the lungs
- Improves brain function
- Can improve digestion
How to do alternate nostril breathing pranayama:
- Use right thumb to close off right nostril.
- Inhale slowly through left nostril
- Pause for a second
- Now close left nostril with ring finger and release thumb off right nostril
- Exhale through your right nostril
- Now, inhale through right nostril
- Pause for a second
- Use thumb to close off right nostril
- Breathe out through left nostril
- This is one round. Start slowly with 1 or 2 rounds and gradually increase. Don’t force it or push yourself. Do what feels comfortable to you. Sit quietly for a few moments after you have finished.
Practicing on an empty stomach is preferred. Do not hold your breath if you have high blood pressure. Consult your doctor or medical practitioner before starting pranayama.
There are many different techniques of pranayama such as inhaling for four counts, holding for four counts and exhaling for four counts. If you would like to see how alternate nostril breathing pranayama is done, you can go to you tube and type in “alternate nostril breathing" and a bunch of videos will come up.
Now I want to hear from you. What do you do when you are feeling stressed or out of balance?
Love & Happiness,