If you are feeling stressed or anxious, alternate nostril breathing is an easy and powerful way to quickly calm your mind and body, as well as give you an instant energy boost.
Most of us, especially those prone to anxiety, tend to breathe very high up in the chest. Stop and notice how you are breathing right now. As I write this, I have just caught myself holding my shoulders up tensely and breathing very shallow.
But because breathing is done automatically we usually don't even notice it. But the more tense we feel, the more shallow our breathing becomes.
Alternate nostril breathing, a type of pranayama, is incredibly simple yet has fantastic benefits, both immediate and long term. Pranayama means "control of the breath" and there are several pranayama techniques. However I like this method because it's simple, very effective and you can do it anywhere.
I first learned alternate nostril breathing in meditation classes many years ago. Before we get into the actual technique,
let's have a look at the benefits:
With a list of wonderful benefits like this, I'm sure you're keen to get started.
Before you begin, make sure you are sitting comfortably in whatever position is best for you.
1. Holding your right hand in front of your face, begin by using your thumb to close off your right nostril.
2. Inhale slowly and deeply (but gently) through your left nostril.
3. Now close off the left nostril with your ring finger while removing your thumb from your right nostril.
4. Exhale slowly through your right nostril.
5. Inhale slowly through your right nostril.
6. Now close off the right nostril with your thumb again while removing your ring finger from your left nostril.
7. Exhale slowly and gently through your left nostril.
8. This completes one round of pranayama. Now begin at step 1 again by inhaling through your left nostril, and on you go.
When you first start using this breathing technique, begin with just one or two rounds and gradually build up to around ten rounds. Always sit quietly for a few moments when you have finished.
If you have blocked nostrils for any reason, do not force yourself to do this type of breathing exercise. If you have high blood pressure do not hold your breath. If you have any medical condition consult your medical professional before you begin.
Well, it's as easy as that! There are other more advanced pranayama techniques, but for the purposes of this website, this is a terrific little technique that almost anybody can use. Try it today and begin to see the benefits!