Anulom Vilom Pranayama - The Alternate Nostril Breathing
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.
Anulom Vilom pranayama or the Alternate Nostril Breathing exercise is one of the main practices of pranayama.
Anu = With
Loma = Hair implying with the grain or natural
Viloma = Against the grain or against the natural course
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.
This is also known as Nadi Shuddhi or Nadi Shodhana pranayama since this is the pranayama for purifying the nadis.
How to Do Anulom Vilom Pranayama
- Sit in a steady asana. Padmasana is most suited for the practice. Siddhasana and Vajrasana may also be used.
- 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.
- Now release the thumb and close the left nostril with your ring finger. Then breathe out slowly through the right nostril.
- 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).
- This is one round of Anulom Vilom pranayama.
- Start with 5 rounds and increase it up to 20 rounds in one sitting.
Beginners should start the practice without Kumbhaka.
After one has reached a certain level of proficiency, one can add Kumbhaka or retention of breath to the practice.
Ratio of Inhalation, Retention and Exhalation
Pranayama practitioners start with the ratio of 1:1 for inhalation and exhalation. For example if you inhale for 4 seconds through one nostril, then the exhalation from the other nostril is also 4 seconds. As you progress, the ratio can be changed to 1:2, which means if inhalation is 4 seconds, then exhalation is 8 seconds.
Once you add Kumbhaka (retention of breath), the ratio can start with 1:1:1. For example, 4 seconds of inhalation, 4 seconds of retention and 4 seconds of exhalation. With further progress, the ratio can be increased to 1:1:2, 1:2:2, 1:4:2, etc.
- Alleviates bronchitis, asthma and other breathing-related ailments.
- Reduces snoring.
- Optimizes the functioning of the lungs.
- Improves the quality of sleep and helps with insomnia.
- Relieves stress, anxiety and depression.
- Sharpens the senses.
- Removes toxins from the body.
- Improves the powers of concentration and focus
- Helps in the treatment of diabetes, arthritis and migraines.
- Assists in weight management.
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.
Note : 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.