Alternative Nostril Breathing

Submitted by Thiruvelan on Fri, 06/06/2014
Anuloma Viloma Pranayama - Alternative Nostril Breathing

Simply, without spending a penny and with zero side effects, practicing alternate nostril breathing for a few minutes every day can restore normal health. You may not trust this, start doing it to experiencing the amazing benefits and you would share it to your loved once. 

What is Anuloma viloma pranayama?

In Sanskrit, Anuloma means successive (continuous), Viloma means produced in reverse order, and pranayama means extension of the breath or life. When you combine, it means alternative nostril breathing.

Other names of anulama viloma pranayama are nadi suddhi pranayama, nadi shodhana pranayama and alternative nostril breathing.

Regular practitioners of anulom-vilom pranayama are leading a healthy, happy, optimistic life.

Who can practice Anulom-Vilom pranayama?

Everybody can practice this pranayam including small children, old age people and patients. Pregnant women can practice it regularly will give birth a healthy baby.

How do you prepare for Nadi suddhi pranayama?

Practitioner should do pranayama in a peaceful, clean, and well-ventilated place. If possibly, prefer doing in a natural place with fresh air circulation.  

The best time for pranayama is early morning and on an empty stomach. Patients with chronic disease are advisable to do pranayama twice a day, in the morning and evening.

The left-nostril represents Ida nadi (moon - calming), which symbolizes peace and has cooling effect. The right nostril represents Pingala nadi (sun – energy), which symbolizes power and has heating effect. To purify all nadis of the body, practitioners should begin and finish in the left nostril.

How do you do Nadi shodhana pranayama?

Mudras in yoga mean hand-gesture; in this breathing technique, we are going to use two mudras. They are gyan mudra in left hand and pran mudra in right hand.

  1. Gyan Mudra – in Sanskrit gyan means knowledge, this mudra improves our knowledge, memory, concentration, intelligence and creativity. It eliminated negative thoughts and mental tension. This mudra is beneficial for headache, migraine, depression, anxiety and insomnia. Holding gyan mudra in your left hand can maximize the benefit of this pranayama. How do you do gyan mudra? Join the tip of thumb and index finger, keeping all other fingers straight, and palm facing upward. In this pranayama, hold gyan mudra in your left hand, and rest it over your left knee.
  2. Pran Mudra - in Sanskrit pran means breath (energy, vigor), this mudra is energizing; increases the energy, vitality and Eyesight. It is beneficial for fatigue, exhaustion, low immunity, poor circulation, and eye diseases. How do you do this pran mudra? Join the tip of thumb with ring & pinky finger and keeping the index and middle fingers straight. In this pranayama, we have to place the right hand thumb on the right nostril, ring & pinky fingers on the left nostril and index & middle fingers on the center of eyebrows (third eye).

Now, let us see how you do alternate nostril breathing:

  • Pranayams can practice in any comfortable yoga postures such as Padmasana, Siddhasana, Vajrasana or Sukhasana by sitting over a mat. Practitioners unable to sit on the floor due to any health condition can sit on the chair with straight spine. Pranayama should never practice on the bare floor or in standing position.
  • The spine should be straight, and shoulders relaxed. Head centered between the shoulders, chin-tipped slightly downward, eyes gently closed. Put up a gentle smile on your face (this will increase your charisma).
  • Relax the body muscles and become aware of your breath and not to control or force it.
  • You have to use your right hand thumb over right-nostril, and ring & pinky fingers over left-nostril for closing and opening of nostrils. Rest the middle and index fingers gently on the eyebrow center (Ajna chakra).
  • Always start and finish in the left-nostril. Use your thumb to close the right-nostril, inhale through left-nostril. Initially, you can inhale to the count of five. If you experience dizziness or other discomfort, reduce the count.
  • During inhalation, once the lungs reaches its full capacity, close the left nostril with your ring & pinky fingers. Simultaneously, remove your thumb from the right-nostril, and begin a slow, rhythmic, effortless exhalation through the right-nostril for five counts.
  • Continue by inhaling through the right nostril for five counts. Close the right-nostril with your right-thumb, open the ring & pinky fingers on the left-nostril and exhale through it to the count of five.
  • Ideally, you can practice alternative nostril breathing for about 18 to 30 rounds for maximize benefits. The process of inhale by left-nostril and exhale by right is one cycle. Then inhale by right-nostril and exhale by left is the second cycle and so on.

In the beginning do it for 3 minutes twice daily. If you are, feeling tired or any discomforts stop at that cycle. Regular practice will enable you to do it for 15 to 20 minutes once or twice per day (maximum) after few days. 

Anulom Vilom pranayama for Kundalini awakening, you should perform 250 to 300 cycles or maximum 30 minutes twice daily.

If you are interested, you can do breathing exercise along with mentally chanting "OM." It is a healing and mesmerizing word establishes a connection with the nature and maximizes the overall benefits. Mentally chant, “OM” during exhalation in a longest way possible (to your capacity “Ooooooooommmm”); until, exhale all air out of the lungs. Alternatively, you can play OM chanting in an Mp3 or other players setting its length to 3 to 20 minutes and do breathing until the chant stops. This frees you from counting or seeing the clock often, thus you can do without any disturbance.

Anuloma Viloma Benefits

Alternate nostril breathing practitioners are experiencing the positive effects right from the day one. Immediately, after start practicing this breathing technique, the body gets relaxed and energized; the mind turns calm and thoughtless. 

  1. Rejuvenate and restore the physical and mental health. This relaxes the mind & body and makes it stronger, healthier and resistance to diseases. It restores from tiredness and revitalizes with the needed extra dose of energy.
  2. Revamp brain function by calming down the mind, sharpen the memory, bring clarity of thought, keep the mind study, strengthen willpower, improved endurance to meet challenges, and increases the concentration power. Five minutes of breathing practice, before an exam or interview greatly improves the performance and increases the chance of success.
  3. Purify & enhance lung capacity and thus improve overall well-being and energy level. It is useful for people with frequent or chronic cold, sinus and asthma. You know your lungs is removing 70% of our body’s waste products.
  4. It calms an agitated mind and makes it cool.
  5. Optimize both brain hemispheres; left nostril breathing will access to the right-brain hemisphere in-charge of feeling and right nostril breathing will access to the left-brain hemisphere responsible for thinking. Thus, alternate nostril breathing optimizes both brain hemisphere functions.
  6. It provides well-balanced emotional state and relieves anxiety, depression, anger, panic, and stops mood swings.
  7. Give restful sleep by calming down nervous system, useful for people with insomnia.
  8. It helps prepare yourself for the meditation, just by practicing breathing calming down your mind and prepare it for deep meditation. It is a simple easy trick helps to achieve perfection in meditation.  
  9. It calms down the nervous system and makes it efficient and alert. Very useful for people with diabetes and high blood pressure; they are most commonly experiencing nerve problems.
  10. Maintain body temperature from head to toe; keeping it warm in winter & cool in summers.
  11. Revive and revitalize your nadis (energy channels) by purifying the blood and cleansing all the nadis in the body, thus restores natural health.
  12. It balances dosha by harmonizes the vata, pitta and kapha doshas (as per Ayurveda). If it is in harmony, then there is no disease; regular practice cures almost all health conditions.
  13. Circadian rhythm is a biological rhythm (body clock), which is endogenous (built-in, self-sustained). Disturbance to this rhythm leads to change in balance between glucose and lipid utilization, susceptible to development of metabolic syndrome. Thus, breathing practice helps prevent and even heal metabolic syndrome.  
  14. It heals vata dosha diseases such as rheumatism, gout, digestive problems, urinary diseases and reproductive organ conditions.
  15. It improves cardiac health by reducing heart strain by boosting lung's capacity, lower heart rate, reducing blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic), and by improved blood circulation.
  16. It normalizes the blood lipid level - by boosting metabolic rate, and helps optimize the blood cholesterol level.
  17. It normalizes the blood-glucose level by improving both fasting and postprandial blood-sugar levels.
  18. It is highly recommended for angina, and it even heals with some extra exercise or yoga poses.

Regular practice can completely heal most of the chronic diseases. Practicing regularly for 15 to 20 minutes twice-daily boosts inner body strength and enhances the mind power.


Do not force doing pranayama that too in an improper body posture; it may lead to nervous breakdowns. This breathing technique should practice on an empty stomach, preferably in the early morning to energies the entire day.

Amazing thing about alternate nostril breathing

We do not breathe equally on both nostrils, i.e. in any particular time; one nostril is much easier to breathe through than other one. Some thousands of years ago, Yogis discovered this. Each nostril alternates naturally for a period of 150 minutes for an optimum health individual. 

Additionally, left nostril can influence the right side brain responsible for creative activity. The right nostril can influence the left-side brain accountable for logical verbal activity. When left nostril is blocked, the right brain predominates and found to do well on creative activities. Similarly, when the right nostril is blocked, the left-brain predominates and found to do better on verbal skills.

The ancients Yogis observed many diseases were developed due to the nasal cycle disturbances or if one breathe too long through one nostril. To remove blockage and bring-back natural breath cycle; they developed the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique. Yogis believed that breathing for years dominated by one-sided breathing leads to health conditions; for example, left-side leads to asthma and right side lead to diabetes. Practicing the opposite breathing believed to cure it; that is, breathing by right cure's asthma and left cures diabetes. Then they should practice alternate nostril breathing to prevent its recurrence.

Even, there is a belief that during sexual intercourse, when you close your & your partner’s right nose (sun, male or Pingala nadi), with cotton, you will most probably give birth a girl child and closing left nose (moon, female or Ida nadi), more chances for a boy child. I am not sure, just heard so; try experiencing it and share your thought.