Anuloma viloma pranayama (Nadi Shodhan) is one of the simplest and most powerful of all breathing techniques for yoga. Using alternate nostril breathing quickly establishes equilibrium of mind and body.
In any given moment one of your nostrils is dominant over the other. You can check this right now – put your palm under your nose and breath normally. You will feel the breath coming stronger from one nostril. Don’t worry, this is normal!
Prana is coming in through the nostrils and being directed to two subtle energy channels, the ida and pingala, which maintain balance in our physical and mental state.
The right nostril is said to channel hot energy, is represented by the sun and flows to the pingala channel. When the right nostril is too active we feel unsettled and anxious.
The left nostril is said to channel cool energy, is represented by the moon and flows to the ida channel. When the left nostril is too active we become lethargic and mentally dull.
The flow ideally should be balanced, moving effortlessly from one nostril to the other throughout the day, changing every couple of hours or so. But if you get caught up in your thoughts and emotions, or are too active, the balance can be unsettled.
Taking a few minutes three or four times a day to practice anuloma viloma pranayama can have a dramatic effect on bringing you back to a state of mental and physical balance.
How To Practice Anuloma Viloma Pranayama (Nadi Shodhan)
1. Sit comfortably with a relaxed and straight spine.
2. Gently exhale through the nostrils, until you feel there is no more air to leave.
3. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and slowly inhale through your left nostril for a count of 4.
4. Upon completing the inhalation cover your left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand and release the right nostril.
5. Exhale with ease through the right nostril to a count of 8.
7. Close the right nostril and release the left nostril and exhale through the left nostril to a count of 8.
This represents one round of anuloma viloma. In the beginning practice 6 rounds, gradually increasing to 12.
Anuloma Viloma Pranayama – Other Variations
As you become more comfortable with you can increase the amount of time, but always maintain the ration of 1:2 (e.g. 4:8, 6:12 etc.)
You can also retain the breath at the mid-point. If you inhale for 4 seconds, close both nostrils for 4 seconds, then release and exhale for 8 seconds as above.