Alternate nostril breathing is a yogic breath control practice. In Sanskrit, it’s known as nadi shodhana pranayama. This translates as “subtle energy clearing breathing technique.” This type of breath work can be done as part of a yoga or meditation practice. Alternate nostril breathing can also be done as its own practice to help you quiet and still your mind.
1. Lowers stress and improves cardiovascular function 2. Improves lung function and respiratory endurance 3. Lowers heart rate 4. Promotes well-being
Practicing alternate nostril breath is safe for most people. Talk to your doctor before starting the practice if you have a medical condition such as asthma, COPD, or any other lung or heart concern. If you feel any adverse effects, such as shortness of breath, while doing the breathing technique, you should stop the practice immediately. This includes feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or nauseous.
You can practice alternate nostril breathing on your own, but you may want to ask a yoga teacher to show you the practice in person so you can make sure you’re doing it correctly. Focus on keeping your breath slow, smooth, and continuous. Focusing on your breath will help you to remember where you are in the cycle. You should be able to breathe easily throughout the practice.
To practice alternate nostril breathing:
- Sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed.
- Place your left hand on your left knee.
- Lift your right hand up toward your nose.
- Exhale completely and then use your right thumb to close your right nostril.
- Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your fingers.
- Open the right nostril and exhale through this side.
- Inhale through the right nostril and then close this nostril.
- Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.
This is one cycle. Continue for up to 5 minutes. Always complete the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.