How to perform Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breath)
Also known as Nadi Shodhana or ‘alternate nostril breath’, anuloma viloma is considered one of the most important of all the yogic breathing techniques. It is said to activate and harmonise the ida and pingala nadis, which surround the central energy channel, the shushumna nadi, whose counterpart in the physical body is the spinal cord. This then clears the path for cosmic energy to travel from its seat at the base of the shushumna nadi, to the crown chakra, enabling the yogi to attain Samadhi or super-consciousness!
“Rhythmic, deep and slow respiration stimulates and is stimulated by calm, content states of mind. Irregular breathing disrupts the rhythms of the brain and leads to physical, emotional and mental blocks. These, in turn, lead to inner conflict, imbalanced personality, disordered lifestyle and disease.”
– Swami Satyananda Saraswati
- Sit in a comfortable, upright, seated position and begin by breathing slowly and steadily
- Make a fist with your right hand (you can put your left hand in chin mudra and rest it on your left knee), then release the thumb, ring finger and little finger to create a ‘peg’
- Gently close the right nostril with your thumb and take your next inhale through the left nostril
- At the top of the inhale, cover your left nostril with the ring finger and little finger, and breathe out through the right nostril
- Now breath back in through the right nostril, close it when you reach the end of the inhale, and breathe out through the left
- Repeat this pattern of breathing, aiming to make each inhale and exhale equal in length (a count of 4 is good to begin with)
- When you’re comfortable with the above, introduce a pause at the top of each inhale – close both nostrils and then release the breath. The recommended inhale-retention-exhale ratio is 1-4-2, so you could inhale for a count of 3, retain for 12 and exhale for 6, for example
Want to know how to use anuloma viloma within your yoga practice, to align yourself with the Spring equinox and create balance in your mind, body and spirit? Find out here.