Anulom Vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is one of the most effective pranayamas to purify your body and mind. It cures the tri-dosas or impurities i.e. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha and is very useful in releasing stress and anxiety. In developing yoga practice, learning breath control exercises play an important role. According to Patanjali Yoga Sutras, pranayama is one of the classical eight limbs of Yoga. It helps to cleanse, balance, purify your life force or prana and helps you to stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit. This breathing practice is also called Nadi Shodhan pranayama as this clears your blocked energy channels.
In this breathing practice, inhalation (Puraka), retention (Kumbhaka) and exhalation (Rechaka) are used. This can be practised with or without Kumbhaka. Beginners should practice without Kumbhaka and with regular practice, they should bring that into their practice.
In Anulom Vilom pranayama, breathing can be done only through one nostril which is alternated, the other nostril is closed using the fingers. The thumb finger is used to close the right nostril and the ring finger is used to close the left nostril.
Benefits of Anulom Vilom Pranayama
- It removes toxins from your body and improves blood circulation
- Helps to keep diabetes under control and improves function of lungs
- Relieves stress, depression and calms your mind
- Helps to cure a headache, migraine, neurological problems, heart blockage and gastric problems
- It balances the two main energy channels i.e. Ida and Pingala. Then it awakens the central channel called Sushumna Nadi
- This breathing practice helps to clean the pranic channels and makes sure prana flow freely in the entire body
- An effective breathing exercise for weight loss
This pranayama should be done on an empty stomach, preferably in the early morning after bath. You can also practice this in the evening with a gap of 4-5 hours after the meal. Do not overdo the practice and increase the duration of inhalation and exhalation beyond your limit. Those suffering from heart disease or blood pressure should avoid retention of breath during the process. Women should avoid this during pregnancy and periods. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
Steps to do perfect Anulom Vilom Pranayama
- First sit on the Padmasana or Sukhasana (simple sitting pose), close your eyes and keep your spine straight.
- Keep your left hand in Chin Mudra and rest on your right knee.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb in Vishnu mudra. Inhale slowly through your left nostril, inhale as much oxygen as you can so that your lungs get full of air.
- Remove your thumb from right nostril and exhale from the right while closing your left nostril.
- Now, inhale through your right nostril and close your right nostril and exhale from left nostril.
- Repeat this procedure as long as you feel comfortable. Remember it’s your body and you must not force it. Relax and repeat it for 3-4 times.
Inhalation, Retention, and Exhalation
Beginners can start this exercise with the ratio of 1:1 for inhalation and exhalation. That means, if you inhale for 4 seconds through one nostril, then the exhalation from the other nostril is also 4 seconds. With slow and steady progress, the ratio can be changed to 1:2, which means if inhalation is 4 seconds, then exhalation is 8 seconds.
After regular practice when you include Kumbhaka or retention of breath into your practice, the ratio will become 1:1:1. For example, 4 seconds of inhalation, 4 seconds of retention and 4 seconds of exhalation. With the same progress as above, the ratio can be increased to 1:2:2, 1:4:2. Please note that advanced practitioner should only practice 1:4:2.
Enjoy this beautiful breathing technique and purify your mind and body. If you feel this article is helpful to you then share your experience with us by commenting below. We would be happy to hear from you!