Alternate Nostril Breathing is also known as Anuloma Viloma or Nadi Shodhana.
This technique is perfect for clearing, calming and focussing a restless mind, it naturally reduces feelings of stress and anxiety and improves physical and emotional balance.
Alternate nostril breathing will also help relieve headaches, clear the sinuses and it is deeply rejuvenating. It is perfect any time of the day, however, it is also very beneficial at the end of the day, soothing both body and mind to enhance sleep.
Alternate Nostril Breathing will help to clear the energy channels known as nadis, it is through these channels that the prana or vital life force flows, by keeping these channels clear prana is able to flow freely around the body and improve vitality and general well-being.
How to perform Alternate Nostril Breathing
Sit in a comfortable position ensuring that the spine remains straight. Using the right hand place your thumb beside your right nostril, then place your index finger and middle finger to your forehead and your ring finger beside your left nostril.
Block your right nostril with your thumb and inhale fully through the left nostril, then remove your thumb from your right nostril and block the left nostril with your ring finger.
Exhale fully and then inhale fully through the right nostril.
Now remove your ring finger from your left nostril and block your right nostril with your thumb again. Exhale fully then inhale fully through the left nostril.
Remove your thumb from your right nostril and block the left nostril with your ring finger. Exhale fully and then inhale fully through the right nostril.
Continue the exercise five minutes or longer finishing with an exhalation through the left nostril.
Try to regulate the flow of your breath, so that it is a steady flow, aim for 4 seconds inhalation and 4 seconds exhalation. Over time this can be lengthened.
When you are comfortable with this technique you can perform Alternate Nostril Breathing to the following ratios: - 1:1 for both inhalation and exhalation. For example if you inhale for 4 seconds through one nostril, then the exhalation from the other nostril is also 4 seconds. When you feel ready to progress, the ratio can be changed to 1:2, which means if inhalation is 4 seconds then exhalation is 8 seconds.
To move on further it is possible to include a breath retention and practice the following ratios:- 1:1:1 which equals 4 seconds of inhalation, 4 seconds of retention and 4 seconds of exhalation. Then to progress further the ratios can be increased to 1:1:2, 1:2:2 and 1:4:2.
Take your time there is no need to rush the practice of pranayama, make sure that you are comfortable at all times.
Do not retain the breath during pregnancy or if you suffer from high or low blood pressure. Never force the practise, the breath should feel comfortable at all times. If you feel uncomfortable stop immediately, yoga practices should enhance your well-being. Not all practices will be suitable for everyone.
This technique is included in the Yoga 2 Hear Pranyamas and Mudras Vol 2 Class