This Pranayama, or Yoga breathing exercise is one of my favourites and is perfect for helping to release tension, fear, worries and concerns, relaxing the body and calming the mind.
It is said that when you are healthy that we breathe predominantly through the left nostril for about 1 hour and 50 minutes and then through the right nostril for the same amount of time. However, for many this natural rhythm and pattern of breathing is disturbed through our daily lives. Anuloma Viloma is said to restore that natural balance in our breathing.
Practised regularly it is said to help lower high blood pressure, relieve all types of headaches, cleanse the sinus system and calm the nervous system
How To Practise
To practise Anuloma Viloma we breathe in and out through alternate nostrils. Closing off one nostril to breath in through the other, then open the closed nostril, closing the previously open nostril to breathe out. (Don’t worry if that sounds confusing, I’ll explain it step by step.)
In order to open and close the nostrils we use Vishnu Mudra. A mudra is a hand position with our right hand.
To form Vishnu Mudra, come into a comfortable meditation pose. Bring your right hand up in front of your face, with your palm facing your face. Then place your right thumb gently onto your right check neck to your right nostril. Then fold the next two fingers down so the tips are resting onto the palm of your hand. Then place the two remaining extended little fingers gently onto your left cheek next to your left nostril. If Vishnu mudra is too uncomfortable for you then you can straighten the folded first two fingers and place their tips on the space between your eyebrows.
To practise Anuloma Viloma we open and close the right nostril with our right thumb and open and close the left nostril with our two little fingers. If you are left hand, you can practise in reverse, if you find it easier with your left hand (thumb on left cheek-opening and closing left nostril and two little fingers in right cheek – opening and closing the right nostril). Please note: the instructions below are given for right handed practice.
Anuloma Viloma – How to Practise
Sitting in a comfortable meditation position with your right hand in Vishnu Mudra. Close your right nostril, with your thumb and breathe in and out through your left nostril only. Breathe slowly, deeply and smoothly. Never forcing the breath. Repeat for five to ten breaths. Discontinuing practise if you feel light headed, dizzy or uncomfortable in any way. Then, release/open your right nostril and close the left nostril with your two little fingers. Breathe in and out of your right nostril only, using slow, smooth breaths. Practise for five to ten breaths. Then release your left nostril taking three deep breaths before finishing your practise or moving onto stage 2.
GOING ONTO STAGE 2 ONLY IF STAGE 1 FELT COMFORTABLE FOR YOU
Sitting in a comfortable meditation position with your right hand in Vishnu Mudra. Inhale through both nostrils then close your right nostril and breath out through your left nostril only. Then inhale through your left nostril only, close your left nostril and open your right nostril, and breathe out through the right nostril. Now, keeping your right nostril open and breathe in through it, then close the right nostril, open your left to breathe out. This completes one round. Practise for five to 10 rounds. As before Breathe slowly, deeply and smoothly. Never forcing the breath. Discontinuing practise if you feel light headed, dizzy or uncomfortable in any way.
To finish take a few deep breaths in and out through both nostrils before resuming normal breathing. Giving your right hand a gentle shake if necessary to release any stiffness from there.