Blessed dear friends, welcome to “the calmest space online!” May your heart be filled with joy and love as you go through your day. Today’s post focuses on a popular yoga breathing exercise , Alternate Nostril Breathing and how you can use this practice to strengthen your body and calm and balance your mind.
Alternate Nostril Breathing, also known by its Sanskrit name Anuloma Viloma, is one of my favourite yoga breathing exercises and forms one of the pillars of my unfolding “Surrender to Love” philosophy.
Surrender to Love is the term I use to describe my journey of self love and inner peace as I consciously take time out of my daily schedule to focus on my need for a strong healthy body and calm and clear mind.
There are various types of yoga breathing exercises you can use as part of your daily practice or self-care routine to help you relax and reduce stress. One of my favourites is Alternate Nostril Breathing because it helps me to feel strong, peaceful and balanced.
What Is Alternate Nostril Breathing?
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) is a classic yogic breathing exercise and often practiced at the beginning of a Sivananda yoga lesson.
When Do You Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing?
Whenever you feel out of alignment and start getting ratty and tense or feel anxious then that’s a sign your energy needs to be re-aligned and rebalanced.
Alternate Nostril Breathing helps with this process because it alternates the flow of breath/prana through one nostril and then the other.
Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing
In the classic yoga book, Opening to Spirit by Caroline Shola Arewa, she describes seven main benefits of this practice which are:
• Balancing the autonomic nervous system.
• Balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
• Improving concentration on any practical object or subject.
• Stimulating Anja (third eye) chakra.
• Increasing awareness of the chakras.
• Purifying each of the 72,000 nadis
• Aligning the individual force-field with the universal force-field.
And if you are interested in finding out more about the relationship between yoga, breathing exercises and the chakras, I urge you to buy Shola’s book, Opening to Spirit. It’s an excellent guide in helping you along your spiritual path.
How Do You Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing?
Word of Warning
As with all yoga exercises, please listen and respect your body. Any sign of discomfort or pain in the body, please stop, rest and if needed see your Doctor. If you are pregnant or new to yoga, I’d suggest you familiarise yourself with more basic yoga breathing exercises before trying this more advanced practice. Thank you.
Simple Guidelines For The Practice Of Alternate Nostril Breathing
Traditionally Alternate Nostril Breathing is practiced in the ratio of 1:4:2 -for every second/count of breath you inhale, you retain your breath for four times as long and exhale for twice as long – for example, if you inhale for a count of 2, then you hold your breath for a count of 8 and exhale for account of 4. Depending on your level of experience, you can, for example inhale for account of 4, retain for 16 and breathe out for a count of 8.
There are six steps to complete one round of Alternate Nostril Breathing.
Here is a video, I sourced on youtube you can watch which describes how to do this wonderful breathing exercise. If like me, you also like to read about what you are doing, below the video I’ve written out simple instruction you can follow to practice Alternate Nostril Breathing.
Before you start, make sure you are sitting comfortably either on a chair or cross-legged on the floor. Sit upright with a straight spine. Rest your back of your left hand on your left knee, with your thumb and index finger touching; With your right hand, bend your index and middle fingers into your palm, which leaves your right thumb to close your right nostril and your ring and little fingers to close your left nostril.
Before you start, spend a few moments in quiet focusing on your every day breath as you allow your mind and body to settle into the practice.
1. Exhale fully, close your right nostril with your right thumb, slowly exhale through your left nostril for a count of 4.
2. Gently hold your breath, by “pinching” both nostrils between your thumb and ring and little finger, for a count of 16.
3. Release your thumb from your right nostril (keep your left nostril closed) and exhale through your right nostril for a count of 8.
4. Still keeping your left nostril closed, breathe in through your right nostril for a count of four.
5. Close both nostrils and hold your breath for a count of 16 (as in #2).
6. Release your left fingers from your left nostril, keep your right nostril closed with your right thumb and breathe out through the left nostril for a count of 8
This completes one round. Aim to do 3-10 rounds daily or set your timer and practice for 2-10 minutes.
To Sum Up
Today’s post, focused on one of my favourite yoga breathing exercises, Alternate Nostril Breathing and forms part 1of a mini series of blog posts, titled Surrender to Love, where I share my most popular yoga and relaxation techniques to support and encourage you to take time-out to relax and put your needs for health and wellness on the table.
Over the next few blog posts I’ll be covering the other core self-love techniques:
2. Rest and Relaxation techniques
3. Exercising, specifically restorative yoga poses
5. Taking Time-Out
6. Healthier Choices
7. Embrace Life
Everything I share with you is based on my professional and personal yoga practice and what I teach my yoga students. My prayer is you take what you like and find useful and helpful to support you maintain your inner balance and focus in your daily life.
Take Away Points
If you feel comfortable with Alumoa Viloma, over the next week or so, schedule 3 dates in your diary, when you will specifically use the time to sit down and practice this or any of the other relaxing yoga breathing exercises on offer. When you do, kindly share your thoughts, or send me an email because I’d love you know how you got on and how you felt afterwards.
As usual, remember to forward today’s post to your friends and family who you think will also benefit from more moments of calm in their day. Thank you.
And you can discover more yoga breathing exercises you can practice at work to reduce stress in my popular eBook A Woman’s Book of Yoga, A Guide to Relax and Nourish your Body and Soul
In peace and may you and everyone dear to your heart have a blissful day