Alternate nostril breathing is also known as left/right nostril breathing or alternative nostril breath.
Whatever you wish to call it, this method of breathing boasts enormous benefit for anyone who practices it. I have used it myself and fully agree.
Alternate nostril breathing can be used in conjunction with deep breathing for even more benefit.
The basic idea is that the practitioner consciously controls his breathing and uniformly switches his breathing from one nostril to the other.
The procedure involves exact instructions which are easy to learn and practice.
The Concept of Alternate Nostril Breathing
This concept comes from the theory that the left side of the brain controls our logical, analytical, thinking side, and the right side of the brain controls our creative, feeling side.
Breathing through one or the other nostril nourishes and awakens or enlivens one or the other side of the brain.
Breathing through the right nostril benefits the left side of the brain and breathing though the left nostril benefits the right side.
Since we naturally breathe using mainly one nostril or the other, unconsciously alternating every couple hours or so, the practice of alternate nostril breathing enhances the currently dormant side of the brain and refreshes the currently active side, thereby bringing us to full awareness and aliveness.
Whether or not you believe, or even agree with, the left/right brain theory, there is not a valid argument against the idea that being able to breathe through both nostrils would be a good thing to do.
Breathing is what makes us alive. Breathing deeper and better would make us even more alive. That just makes sense.
In a healthy person, it has been noted that the breathing switches from one nostril to the other about every two hours. When we are stressed or less healthy, the natural alternation doesn’t occur as often and we become subject to sluggishness or illness.
It is believed that breathing too long out of one nostril or the other is what precipitates illness. When we consciously and actively breathe through one nostril and then the other, we prevent this situation and stay healthier or regain health.
Alternate nostril breathing alleviates any imbalances of the right and left sides of the brain, creating calm but alert thinking and enhancing the function of both sides of the brain.
Here is the basic alternate nostril breathing procedure:
- Close the right nostril with the right thumb
- Slowly inhale through left nostril
- Hold that for a moment
- Let go of the right nostril and close the left nostril with the ring finger
- Exhale through your right nostril
- Then inhale through right nostril
- Hold that for a moment
- Once again, close the right nostril with the right thumb
- Breathe out through left nostril
- These steps complete one round
Start with just one or two rounds and slowly increase to more rounds. Relax for a moment or two when you are done. Don’t ever force the breathing.
Personally, I do not know the importance or significance of specifically using the thumb and the ring finger to close the right and left nostril respectively. That may or may not be important.
I do know that these steps, done exactly as stated have produced a relaxed, yet energetic state for me personally and for others.
Since I have learned this procedure and have used it many times, regularly and intermittently, I am more alive, more energetic and calmer all at the same time. I’ll never give it up.