If you only have 5 minutes for meditation/pranayama – I beg you… please do Alternate Nostril Breathing; also known as Nadi Shodhanam or Anuloma Viloma! This technique will cleanse and balance the energy channels that support your body and mind. The ancient yogis believed that much of our disease was caused by breath imbalances through our nostrils… In a healthy person breath through left or right will alternate every 2 hours. Unfortunately, because most of us are not in optimal health this is not the case and the imbalances can create anxiety, chronic fatigue and reduced brain function.
Science is catching up to what the Ancient Yogis have known for thousands of years and studies are finding the following:
“Scientists also discovered that the nasal cycle corresponds with brain function. The electrical activity of the brain was found to be greater on the side opposite the less congested nostril. The right side of the brain controls creative activity, while the left side controls logical verbal activity. The research showed that when the left nostril was less obstructed, the right side of the brain was predominant. Test subjects were indeed found to do better on creative tests. Similarly when the right nostril was less obstructed the left side of the brain was predominant. Test subjects did better on verbal skills.
Medical science has not quite caught up with the ancient yogis yet. The yogis went one step further. They observed that a lot of disease was due to the nasal cycle being disturbed; that is, if a person breathed for too long through one nostril. To prevent and correct this condition, they developed the alternate nostril breathing technique. This clears any blockage to air flow in the nostrils and reestablishes the natural nasal cycle. For example, the yogis have known for a long time that prolonged breathing through the left nostril only (over a period of years) will produce asthma. They also know that this so-called incurable disease can be easily eliminated by teaching the patient to breathe through the right nostril until the asthma is cured, and then to prevent it recurring by doing the alternate nostril breathing technique. The yogis also believe that diabetes is caused to a large extent by breathing mainly through the right nostril.”*
Alternate Nostril Breathing is not at all difficult – however, it does require some concentration which also creates a wonderful meditative state. The steps are easy:
- Find a comfortable seated position. Ensure that your spine is nice and straight so that the energy can flow easily. I like to practice a simple grounding meditation for 1 or 2 minutes before I begin. Simply inhaling and exhaling through both nostrils;
- Use your diagram to breathe deeply. Try your best to make sure your breath is flowing easily – not choppy or jerky.
- Bring the right hand up to the nose and fold the index and middle fingers to the palm, so that you can use the thumb to close the right nostril, and the ring finger to close the left nostril. Try to avoid bending over to bring the head down to your hand. It is very important to be gentle and simply rest the thumb or finger against the side of the nostril; this does not require more than a light touch.
- Close the right nostril, inhale through the left, close the left nostril, exhale through the right, inhale through the right, close the right and exhale through the left. This is one round. I encourage you to complete at least 5 rounds to notice any benefit.
- You can enhance this experience by focusing on the Prana as it enters your body, imagine this life force flowing in and down your spine to achieve a deeper sense of calming energy.
*source credit: holisticonline.com