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Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) Pranayama – Steps Benefits and Science

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Yoga has three main breathing exercises that you should practice before you begin any basic Yoga pose. This will help you to do any pose with ease. 

The three main breathing yoga exercises are Kapalabhati, Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) and Surya Namaskar.

Even though Surya Namaskar is a complete body workout, it should be practiced before starting any other asanas.

In this article, I will give you a detailed description on how to do Anuloma Viloma asana and what are its benefits.

Introduction to Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma)

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Anuloma Viloma Pranayama or also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing exercise is one of the main practices of Pranayama designed to calm the body and mind. It is a component of Hatha yoga practice.

The name comes from the Sanskrit word, ‘Anu’ meaning “with” and ‘vi’ meaning “against” and ‘loma’ meaning “hair”. Therefore, Anuloma means “with the hair” or “with the grain”, and Viloma means “against the natural course.”

Its purpose is to stimulate the nadis or energy channels that run throughout the body like electrical wires. Thus, the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa.

Anuloma Viloma asana attempts to cleanse the mind and stimulate the right and left nadis throughout the body. As a result, keeping a balance between the mind and body.

How to do Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma)

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Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) is performed with a breathing sequence of 1:4:2 ratio. In the same manner, practice your breathing to a count of 4. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold it for 16 and exhale for 8 counts.

For beginners, you can start with multiplications of 4. Always, remember the pose starts and ends on the left side.

Mentioned below are the steps on how to perform Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) to exercise controlled breathing.

Step 1

Sit in a cross-legged position with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed. Raise your right hand and mold your fingers into Vishnu Mudra by folding the index and middle finger under the base of the thumb. 

Step 2

Inhale completely through the left nostril for a count of 4, while keeping the right nostril closed by your thumb.

Step 3

Close the left nostril with the two ends of your ring and little fingers so that both the nostrils are closed. Hold this to the count of 16.

Step 4

Release the right nostril and exhale out to the count of 8.

Step 5

Inhale fully through the right nostril to the count of 4.

Step 6

Close both the nostrils and retain the breath to the count of 16.

Step 7

Release the left nostril and exhale out to the count of 8. This is one round of Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma).

You must do at least 10 rounds daily.

Once you feel comfortable practicing this asana, you can increase the rounds and the count to the ratio of 1:4:2. This means for every second you inhale; you retain the breath 4 times as long and exhale for twice as long. Therefore, you must never change the ratio of the count.

What is the best time to practice Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma)?

Ideally, this pranayama exercise should be practiced daily, in the morning before the sun comes up. It should be done before you start yoga practice. It can help whenever you need to find a balance.

In this busy and hectic lifestyle that we follow, you can easily practice Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) while seated at your desk, traveling, or any time you need to find balance.

Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma)

Physical Benefits:

  1. It helps to cure mental problems like depression, Anxiety, stress, tension.
  2. Most beneficial for breathing related problems like bronchitis, asthma.
  3. It strengthens, improves and cleanses the lungs and respiratory system.
  4. Boosts your memory and makes your brain sharper.
  5. Improves your immune system, therefore able to cure issues like a cough, cold and fever.
  6. Keeps blood pressure in control.
  7. Oxygenates the blood and keeps the heart pumping.
  8. Calms and balances the nervous system.
  9. It relieves headaches and migraines.
  10. Cures illnesses connected to the muscular system such as arthritis, flatulence varicose veins, acidity, and sinusitis.
  11. It controls obesity and streamlines metabolism.
  12. Provides aid in conditions such as constipation, acidity, allergic problems, asthma, diabetes, gastric problems and snoring.
  13. Eliminates drowsiness.
  14. It relieves eye and ear issues.

Mental Benefits:

  1. Thoughts become more positive and you learn to overcome stress, tension, anger, forgetfulness, anxiety, uneasiness, and lack of sleep.
  2. Increase in concentration levels, decision-making ability, and creativity and helps you to be more patient.
  3. It helps to calm the mind and make you feel relaxed and peaceful.
  4. It stores and controls Prana, the vital energy present in our body.
  5. The alternate nostril breathing exercise balances the psychic system.

Step by Step – Sun Salutation Pose and Benefits

Common Mistakes:

  • The use of fingers is wrong.
  • Back is not straight and the head is in a drooping position.
  • The chest drops while exhalation.
  • The breath is not smooth.

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Who should avoid doing Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma)?

  1. If you suffer from a blocked nose, do not do the retention. Instead, inhale to the count of 4 and exhale through the alternate nostril for 8 counts. Repeat the same for the alternate nostril.
  2. If you are suffering from heart ailments, you should not attempt retention of breath.
  3. If you also suffer from high blood pressure, avoid retention of breath.

Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) Science

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Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) pranayama is not just a form of exercise, there is an inherent science behind it.

Scientists also have discovered through numerous research that the nasal cycle correlates with your brain function. They found the electrical activity of the brain to be greater on the side that is opposite to the less congested nostril.

As a result, the right side of the brain controls your creative activities, while the left side controls your logical verbal activities.

Scientists used this experiment on their test objects with relevance to both sides of the nostrils and what effect it had on the brain. The results depicted that, when the left nostril was less clogged, the right side of the brain was more in control. The test subjects were indeed found to do better on creative tests.

Similarly, when the right nostril was less obstructed, the left side of the brain was dominant in nature. Thus, the test subjects did better on verbal skills.

Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) does not only work wonders on the brain but purifies the different channels of the body. It makes it healthy, strong and lustrous.

In this article, I have also answered questions that many of you will have, before you begin to practice Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma).

Can I do Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) and Pranayam after a meal?

You can practice this Yoga Pose at any time of the day, however, it is best to perform in the morning with an empty stomach.

If you are doing this pose in the evening, then, make sure you do not eat for at least 3-4 hours before that. You can perform this asana for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.

The benefit of this pose is best reaped when practiced on an empty stomach or with a gap of 5 to 6 hours after having a meal.

Pranayama helps in better oxygen intake, increasing the flow of oxygen in your blood stream. Thus, helping your body to relax and preparing it to sleep better.

However, remember not to go to bed directly after doing this pose or asana. Keep a gap before getting into bed.

Weak eyesight is symptoms of weak muscles and a lack of blood flow in your body.  Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) pose can be helpful in improving your eyesight.  How so?

Anuloma Viloma is primarily a balancing Pranayama and Nadi purifying. It works virtually on every organ and dislodges the toxins from the body.

COnclusion

Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) is more than a breathing exercise. It revitalizes your body internally and externally.

I am sure you must be wondering how can a simple breathing exercise have such an impact on your body?

Well, that is the magic of yoga!

It will generate an inner strength that will help you to overcome any uncomfortable experience or challenge.

Practice this pose regularly, and you will bask in the therapeutic and positive benefits and lead happier lives.

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