Breathing /Pranayama, Pranayama

Anulom Vilom || Alternate nostril breathing

November 12, 2015

Today I am going to discuss about another Pranayama or the breathing technique which is quite popular breathing exercise just like Kapalbhati.

This breathing technique is mentioned in many of the yogic texts like Puranas and the Upanishads. It is called Anulom Vilom Pranayama or the Alternate nostril Yoga breathing exercise.

Sanskrit meaning of Anulom Vilom Pranayama

“Anu roughly translates as with and Loma means hair implying “with the grain” or “natural”. It is the opposite of Viloma Prāṇāyāma (विलोम प्राणायाम) which means against the grain.” Source: Wikipedia.

The alternate name of this Pranayama is Nadi Shodhan, (Nadi means subtle energy channels, Shodhan means cleansing or purifying, pranayama means breathing techniques) as it helps in clearing the blocked energy channels in the body.

How to do Anulom Vilom Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing

  • Sit in Padmanasa or the Lotus Pose which is cross-legged yoga posture. In case you find it difficult to sit cross-legged, you can sit in normal position, with your spine erect.
  • You can also sit in Varjaasana.
  • Before starting the breathing exercise, you should concentrate on your normal breathing.
  • Once, you are relaxed, you are ready to practise this Pranayama.
  • Place your left hand your left knee.
  • Now lift your right hand and place the index finger and middle finger at the eyebrow centre. Put your ring and little finger in left nostril and thumb on the right nostril.
  • You will be using your ring and little finger to open and close left nostril. In the same way, you will be using thumb for opening and closing for right nostril.
  • Close your right nostril with your thumb and from the left nostril slowly draw the air. Try to do it slowly, till your lungs are full.
  • Now remove/release the thumb from your right nostril and close your left nostril with your ring finger. Now exhale slowly from your right nostril.
  • Now you have to use your right nostril to inhale the air, for doing so you have to release your thumb and slowly draw the air till your lungs are full.
  • While taking air from right nostril, you have to close your left nostril.
  • Once this is done, exhale the air from your left nostril. For your finger patterns, you have to follow the same as you were doing earlier. You have to release the ring finger from left nostril and close your right nostril with your thumb.
  • This exhaling and inhaling from both sides, is one round of Anulom Vilom Pranayama. After every exhalation you have to breathe from the same side from where you have exhaled.
  • You can start with 5-10 rounds and slowly increase it.

You will feel a sense of relaxation after doing this Pranayama. Some people before starting meditation, start with this Pranayama and then enter into the state of meditation.

You have to be careful while drawing the breath, do it slowly and don’t use your mouth.

Don’t force any action. Do as much as possible and respect your body.

Benefits of Anulom Vilom Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing

  • This Pranayama is known for its relaxation effect. It calms the body and mind.
  • It helps in improving the concentration of the mind.
  • It helps to remove the toxin/impurities of the body.
  • It helps in harmonizing the left and right hemisphere of the brain which are related to logical and emotion part.
  • It purifies the nadis or the subtle energy channel.
  • Helps in making the body stress free.

Precautions to be followed while Practicing Anulom Vilom Pranayama

  • If you want to increase the number of rounds ,then you have to practise it for a long time and after discussion with the Yoga teacher.
  • For people suffering from acute asthma, heart disease should not practise it.

PS: I will be posting the pictures of the breathing techniques in few days. With the festival season going on, I am not getting enough time to capture the pictures. Thanks for understanding.

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