BE CALM & BE STRONG
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.
BENEFITS – the quick list
Alternate nostril breathing may help to:
- Balance the body energetically
- Relax your body and mind
- Reduce anxiety
- Heal from stress
- Promote overall well-being
BENEFITS – the SUPER cool stuff
- It improves attention and fine-motor coordination/performance.
- It activates the parasympathetic nervous system and reduces blood pressure.
- Lowers stress and improves cardiovascular functionOne of the main benefits of alternate nostril breathing is that it may lower stress. A 2013 study found that people who practiced alternate nostril breathing lowered their perceived stress levels.
- Improves lung function and respiratory enduranceYogic breathing practices may improve lung function and respiratory endurance. A small 2017 study examined the effects of pranayama practice on the lung functions of competitive swimmers and found that it had a positive effect on respiratory endurance. Improved respiratory endurance may also improve athletic performance. The swimmers in the study did alternate nostril breathing in addition to two other breathing practices for 30 minutes, five days a week for one month. Larger, more in-depth studies are needed to expand upon these findings.
- Lowers heart rateLowering your heart rate can help to promote cardiovascular health. According to a 2006 study, engaging in a slow yogic breath such as alternative nostril breathing may significantly decrease heart rate and average breathing rhythm.
Alternate nostril breathing may be a useful method to help you lower your heart rate in the moment, too.
- Promotes well-beingAlternate nostril breathing may enhance overall health and well-being. It has also been shown to have a positive effect on mental health by reducing stress and anxiety.
How To Do It
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.
Useful and Research Links