Anulom Vilom Pranayama : Procedure and Benefits

Anulom Vilom Pranayama | HealthInsta

Anulom Vilom Pranayama or alternate nostril breathing exercise is one of the main practices of Pranayama. Anulom Vilom Pranayama is mentioned in the yogic texts Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Gheranda Samhita, Tirumandiram, Siva Samhita, Puranas and in the Upanishads.

The practice of pranayama involves inhalation (called Puraka), retention (called Kumbhaka) and exhalation (called Rechaka). Anulom Vilom pranayama can be practiced with or without Kumbhaka (holding of breath). Beginners should start the practice without Kumbhaka.

The duration of inhalation and expiration depends entirely on the capacity of the practitioner. Start with whatever you are comfortable with – say 4 seconds inhalation and 4 seconds exhalation. Later it can be increased up to 20 seconds or even more.

In Anulom Vilom pranayama, breathing is done only through one nostril which is alternated. During this process, the other nostril is closed using the fingers. The thumb is used to close the right nostril and the ring finger is used to close the left nostril.

Procedure

  1. Sit in a steady asana. Padmasana is most suited for the practice. Siddhasana and Vajrasana may also be used.
  2. Close the right nostril with your thumb and draw in air from the left nostril. Do this as slowly as you can, till your lungs are full.
  3. Now release the thumb and close the left nostril with your ring finger. Then breathe out slowly through the right nostril.
  4. Next take the air in from the right nostril and then release it through the left nostril (after closing the right nostril with the thumb).
  5. This is one round of Anulom Vilom Pranayama.
  6. Start with 5 rounds and increase it up to 20 rounds in one sitting.
  7. Also, the duration of inhalation can start from 2 seconds and go up to 20 seconds or even beyond.
  8. One can have one sitting in the morning and one in the evening. For advanced practitioners, the yogic texts recommends four sittings – one in the morning, one at noon, one in the evening and one at midnight. But for all practical purposes, two sittings (one in morning and one in evening) are enough.
  9. After one has reached a certain level of proficiency, one can add Kumbhaka or retention of breath to the practice.

Benefits

    • Anulom Vilom Pranayama cleans the pranic channels and makes the prana flow freely in the entire body. The nadis or the pranic energy channels are purified. Hence this pranayama is also called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.
    • Purification of the energy channels ensures proper supply of pranic energy to all the organs enhancing the overall health of the body.
    • Anulom Vilom Pranyama balances the two main energy channels Ida and Pingala. It balances the two hemispheres of the brain, bringing about peace and tranquility.
    • When the Ida and Pingala nadis are balanced, it awakens the central channel called Sushumna Nadi.
    • It removes toxins from the body.
    • Prolonged practice of Anulom Vilom Pranayama leads to next stage of yoga, which is Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses. This enables the practitioner to progress towards higher practices of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
    • It can reduce weight in some practitioners depending on their body constitution and is a good practice for obesity.

    Contra-Indications

    • Those suffering from heart ailments should not attempt retention of breath. 
    • Also, avoid retension of breath if you have high blood pressure.
      Anulom Vilom pranayama should be done on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning after evacuation. It can also be done in the evening with a gap of 4 hours after the last meal. Also, avoid doing Anulom Vilom pranayama with retention of breath when the temperature is too hot. Retention of breath can cause an increase in body temperature and should be done in a cool climate.

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