Alternate nostril breathing is an ancient yogic practice. In Sanskrit, this breathing technique is known as Shodhana Nadi Pranayam. It is also known as Anulom Vilom Pranayam, which means practicing cleaning the breathing channels. As we have learned in yoga teachings, there are many energy channels in our bodies called nadis. If we feel blockages in these channels, there might be health issues.

There are three main nadis called Pingla, Ida, and Sushumna which are believed to spiral around the spinal cord in a double helix shape.

They represent the two sides of a person’s personality - hot and cold, sun and moon, as well as active and passive.

Introduction to Alternate Nostril Breathing

Guidence For Nostril  Breathing Exercise

In the Sanskrit language, what is the translation of Shodhana Nadi Pranayam/Anulom Vilom Pranayam? It means that you are about to use a subtle breathing technique to clear your energy. A few minutes of alternating nostril breathing can significantly lessen stress and fatigue.

It has been shown to have advantages for controlling the heart's autonomic function, which may reduce the risk of anxiety and cardiovascular disease.

A different emotional and sensuous power is exerted by each nostril over the mind and body. The left nostril, commonly referred to as Ida, is regarded as a more feminine channel. It is considered to have a cooling quality that is more nourishing on the inside and symbolic of the moon. You are more in tune with the five basic senses if you only breathe through your left nostril. The reason for this theory is that each sense, including taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing, has an exceptional ability to focus on each other. This will make all of these senses more sensitive to each other. The person may experience a passive feeling and start to exhibit depressive symptoms when the left nostril becomes overly dominant.

The Pingala, located in the right nostril, connects to the masculine presence. It is said to have a connection to the sun. Yet the Pingala can become overly forceful, agitated, and unfocused if it exerts too much control. These feelings are typically linked to movement and manipulation. Together, they may have a detrimental effect on a person's mood.

This breathing technique will increase breath retention with each inhalation and exhalation. This is the most widely practiced breathing technique because it has such a strong impact after only a short period of practice. The four-sided layout of the exercise is named Box Breathing. You can do it wherever and whenever you need to be more engaged in really demanding work. It can be practiced as part of your daily routine before working out, in traffic, while waiting in lines, and wherever else you can. It slows down breathing and deepens attention abilities in addition to developing stronger breathing muscles. Even after five minutes of Box Breathing, your body is profoundly relaxed and your mind is alert and concentrated.

Ida and Pingala swing like a pendulum. The other deteriorates as one gains strength. Our everyday activities and interactions impact how our emotions fluctuate. The pendulum's position in the center of Ida and Pingala allows focus and emotional balance.

How to Perform the Alternate Nostril Breathing Exercise?

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine long and your hips relaxed. Your jaw should be relaxed.
  2. Close your eyes and place your left hand on your knee facing upwards. By placing your left hand on your knee, you can also perform the Chin Mudra.
  3. Put the tips of your right index and middle fingers between your eyebrows. Located on the left nostril are the ring finger and little finger of the right hand and the thumb on the right nostril.
  4. For the left nostril, you will use your ring finger and little finger to open and close it while for the right nostril you will use your thumb.
  5. As you exhale, press your thumb against your right nostril and exhale through the left nostril as you do so. With your ring finger, close the left nostril so that you can breathe in.
  6. Exhale through the right nostril after releasing your thumb from it.
  7. Exhale through the left nostril after inhaling through the right nostril and close this nostril with your thumb. 8.A round of Alternate Nostril Breathing consists of two full breaths. You should perform 5–9 rounds of Alternate Breathing between your nostrils. Whenever you inhale, use the same nostril you just exhaled from.

Alternative nostril breathing is an excellent method to practice before meditating as it calms the mind and prepares it for meditation. As per research, it is preferred to practice this technique for 10 minutes every day.

Perks of Alternate-Nostril Breathing

Perks of Alternate-Nostril Breathing

  1. It calms and centers the mind.
  2. It helps you release fears, regrets, and worry or it brings you to the present moment by letting go of the past.
  3. It is very therapeutic for the circulatory and respiratory systems.
  4. It helps in relieving stress from your body.
  5. Balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which are linked to our logical and emotional sides, to make better decisions.
  6. The effect of this technique is to cleanse and balance the nadis, which are subtle energy channels within the body, to ensure the smooth flow of prana (life force) through the body.
  7. It helps maintain your body's temperature.

Things to Remember When Practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing

  1. The breathing pattern is exhale, inhale, and switch sides.
  2. Keep your breathing easy and natural; don't force it. Allow the breath to be even and smooth without applying any pressure or force. Avoid mouth breathing and making noises.
  3. Put your fingertips gently on your forehead and your nose. You don't need to exert any pressure.


Most people can safely practice alternate nostril breathing. If you have a lung ailment like asthma or COPD, it may be difficult for you to take deep breaths. However, simple exercises like these can improve breathing. Practice in a leisurely manner. Keep your inhalers close by if you use them.

Stop practicing deep breathing and visit a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Breathing difficulty
  3. Chest pain/discomfort
  4. Fainting
  5. Vomiting
  6. Dizziness

Alternate-nostril breathing may usually be practiced comfortably at home. Consult your physician or a respiratory therapist before doing this exercise if you have a medical issue. It may also be beneficial to learn the proper breathing method from a certified yoga instructor. You can likewise download our app Better Breathe available on the Play Store and App Store and follow the instructions for the exercise. Furthermore, this app will help you find various other breathing techniques to help you in your day-to-day life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Do you feel better after practicing alternate nostril breathing?

Taking a break from your busy schedule allows your mind to refocus by removing it from stress. It is said that this technique is connected with the relaxation of the mind and soul, resulting in mindfulness.

Q2: How effective is alternate nostril breathing for anxiety?

Attention is directed towards the breath and away from outside stressors, which is how it operates. The mind is given something it can control by focusing on the breath, which also causes stress to be transferred to the exhaled breath. It causes a switch from the dominant sympathetic system to the parasympathetic system, lowering cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and allowing the body to calm itself.

Q3: Can you use your left hand to block the left or right nostril?

Yes, you can use the hand that corresponds to the nostril you want to start with. Consider what is causing your tension and how you are feeling emotionally while deciding which side to start with. In terms of your breath and thoughts, Pingala and Ida have different relationships. It may be more effective to begin the procedure on one side rather than the other to increase the first's impact.

Q4: What is the recommended duration for practicing alternate nostril breathing daily?

It is preferred to practice alternate nostril breathing for 10 minutes every day according to research.

Q5: How is alternate nostril breathing beneficial for mental health?

Alternate nostril breathing helps to lessen stress and fatigue significantly. It also has advantages for controlling the heart's autonomic function, reducing the risk of anxiety and cardiovascular disease.