Alternate Nostril Breathing

Definition - What does Alternate Nostril Breathing mean?

Alternate nostril breathing is a breathing technique of Hatha yoga.

To begin, one assumes lotus pose or any comfortable pose with the spine erect. Bring the tips of one's thumb and index fingers of the left hand together to form chin mudra. The remaining fingers should be stretched, but relaxed. Fold the index and middle fingers of one's right hand and place them on the inside of the palm. Use the ring finger to close the left nostril and thumb to close the right nostril while performing this technique. One may alternatively place the tips of one's index and middle fingers of the right hand on the space between the eyebrows. Press the right nostril with one's righthand thumb and breathe in through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with one's ring finger and little finger, and exhale slowly through the right nostril by releasing it. Inhale slowly through the right nostril, closing it with the thumb, and exhale through the left nostril. This completes one round.

Alternate nostril breathing is also called nadi shodhana in Sanskrit.

Yogapedia explains Alternate Nostril Breathing

Beginners may start with only three to five rounds and gradually increase repetitions to a total of 10 suggested complete rounds. Advanced yogis may perform alternate nostril breathing by following the ratio of 4:16:8:4. Inhale for four counts, hold breath for 16 counts, exhale through the alternate nostril for eight counts and hold the breath for four counts.

Regular practice of this technique promotes physical and mental health. The benefits include:

  • Strengthened respiratory system
  • Strengthened nervous system
  • Boost in brain function
  • Promotion of energy flow
  • Blood purification
  • Stress relief
  • Improved focus
  • Calm mind

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