Alternate Nostril Breathing

Anulom Vilom Pranayama – Breathe in the balance

What is Anulom Vilom

Anulom Vilom or Alternate nostril breathing is not just a rhythm of breathing but it is an exercise in itself. It is also known as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, meaning it is a process of purification of energy channels in our body known as “Nadi”.

When the left nostril is used for inhalation and right nostril is used for exhalation, it activates Ida (Chandra) Nadi which has a calming effect. Similarly inhaling from the right nostril and exhaling from the left nostril, Pingla (Surya) Nadi gets activated. The Ida and Pingala Nadis are assumed to refer to the two hemispheres of the brain. Pingala or Surya Nadi is extroverted and corresponds to the left hemisphere. Ida or Chandra Nadi is introverted and refers to the right hemisphere of the brain. Ida Nadi is responsible for mental processes while Pingala controls the vital processes. Hence balance between both is very important. Anulom Vilom strives to get that balance.

How to do Anulom Vilom Breathing

  1. Sit in any meditative posture either Sukhasana or Ardha / Purn Padmasana etc. Make sure the position chosen by you should be comfortable to sit for a long time.
  2. Keep spine upright and straight, chest slightly lifted, and keep shoulders away from ears.  If it is difficult to sit in a cross legs position, it is fine to sit in a chair as long as you have proper back support.
  3. Take a few deep breaths inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Make sure that breathing is comfortable and you can maintain the posture for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Using the right thumb, gently block the right nostril as you inhale through the left nostril. Release the right nostril and block the left nostril. Exhale completely through the right nostril. Now inhale through the right nostril keeping the left nostril blocked.  Release the left nostril and block the right nostril.  Exhale completely from the left nostril.  This completes one round of Anulom Vilom.
  5. Repeat the round for 9 to 10 rounds.
  6. Take a few normal breaths as a break and then again repeat a set of 10 rounds. You can do up to 3 rounds.

Watch this video to know how to do Anulom Vilom

Benefits Of Anulom Vilom Breathing

  1. Removes Toxins. Balances out doshas of the body – Vata, Kapha, and Pitta.
  2. Improves breathing and helps in the case of respiratory disorders.
  3. Research shows this breathing practice can help reduce migraine pain.
  4. Reduces negative thoughts helps in depression & anxiety.
  5. Improves focus, cognitive ability, and decision-making ability.
  6. Improves lung capacity and oxygenation hence improves metabolism.
  7. Excellent workout for a naturally glowing skin.


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Shilpa is an entrepreneur, blogger, certified yoga instructor, and certified nutritionist.

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