Whys and Hows of Alternate Nostril Breathing!

Importance of Conscious Breathing!

Alternate Nostril breathing is a most profound way to obtain the maximum advantages from conscious breathing. It is easy to do and it has innumerable gains.
Without having enough lung power, it is impossible to think clearly or to think for enough long on a subject. To be able to read something which calls for more than average attention span, you need to have good lung power. Breathing techniques help you improve your attention span and indirectly help you improve your academic abilities and life in general.

Alternate nostril breathing is not easy to do until you have clear nostrils, free of any type of choking materials. If you practice it on a regular basis, choking materials, if any are removed. ANB (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is easiest way to get a balance by using both hemispheres of your brain. When you use your left nostril for inhalation/exhalation, you trigger the neurons of the right hemisphere of brain and vice versa. Optimum emotional health, optimum brain functioning becomes possible by way of ANB as it optimizes the synchronization between two hemispheres.

Even if you breathe very deeply while practicing some of the techniques, the quota of the oxygenation is not met because average amount of air taken in dips significantly even compared to the normal breathing. The advantage however is that you reinforce more and more of your lung power, therefore, as you start taking in more oxygen per breath, your breathing in general becomes more vital.

Flow Of Prana–Yogic Tradition!

In Yogic tradition, it has been suggested that there are some 72000 subtle pathways called ‘Naadis’. Out of these 72000 Nadis some 72 are considered to be of greater importance for well-being and meditation. Out of these 72 pathways there are 3 pathways called ‘Ida’, ‘Pingala’ and ‘Sushumna’, which are of highest importance.

These Naadis are not gross pathways but subtle pathways and subtle life force energy ( chi/qi/prana) flows through them. Yoga suggests that all illnesses are borne out of blockage of energy in some regions because of the accumulation of wastes in these subtle pathways. If these pathways are cleansed, not only will optimum health be attained but also will it lead towards the ultimate state of Samadhi.

Alternate Nostril Breathing aims at cleansing the entire Naadi system of the body and if it is practiced for enough long in a proper way, removes all the blockages in the naadi system.

The Yogi can hear divine melodies in his body if he closes his ears when his Naadis get cleansed.

The left nostril used for inhalation/exhalation uses Ida pathway.

The right nostril used for inhalation/exhalation uses Pingala pathway.

When both of these are equally used ( very rarely in average individuals and almost always in Yogis) the middle path Sushumna gets activated.

It is through the Sushumna that the subtle life force energy could rise up and reach to the crown chakra. Then Samadhi is attained.

The co-ordination between the two hemispheres of brain improves significantly with in very first week of the practice of this technique.


You could feel a sense of ‘balance’ coming up in your thinking because of this practice.

I have been practicing it quite regularly since last 6-7 months but in general I have been practicing all the breathing techniques for more than a decade now.

It will be especially useful for those who suffer from allergies. I had some problem with bronchitis earlier but I got complete rid of it. If you continue to practice ANB say for 15-30 minutes everyday, you will be able to get rid of all the allergies without any medications.

It is easy to practice and could be practiced at home. The alternate nostril breathing is easier compared to many breathing techniques because you need not practice it with empty stomach. As you already know, ideal time for practicing it could be immediately after getting up ( as it will make your mood cheered up for the day!) or just before going to bed ( as it will improve the quality of sleep as well as quality of dreams!). Any time is perfect to practice this techniques.

There are no pre-requisites as such but just because it is recommended that you breath as deep as possible; if you have practiced deep breathing earlier: it will be an advantage. Even if you haven’t you will gradually practice this technique and find that your breathing will become deeper.

I recommend that you practice it at least 30 minutes without a pause. It is so because: In my opinion if you could feel, a drastic change, in your feelings and thinking, after practicing it for a few first days; you are more likely to persist with it, until it becomes the part of your life.

If you practice it for half an hour, with fully deep breathing, you will find a very obvious change in your feelings.

Steps To Be Followed

1. Sit with a chair or on floor or on bed, wherever you could sit without much disturbances, with a straight spine.

2. Use either your left hand or your right hand to alternatively close your nostrils.

3. Use your fingers or thumb to close your right nostril and inhale using your left nostril as deeply as possible.

4. Now close your left nostril with the help of your thumb or fingers and exhale fully out using your right nostril.

5. Now inhale using your right nostril ( remember to inhale using the nostril from which you have exhaled ).

6. Now exhale using your left nostril and keep your right nostril closed as you did earlier.

7. Keep on repeating this cycle.

8. You may also hold your breath between inhalation/exhalation but it is not recommended for beginners.

image courtesy: 1 2


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