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Breathing Exercise (Pranayama) - Alternate Nostril (Anuloma Viloma)

Anuloma Viloma is also called the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique. In this Breathing Technique, you inhale through one nostril, retain the breath, and exhale through the other nostril in a ratio of 2:8:4. The left nostril is the path of the Nadi called Ida and the right nostril is the path of the Nadi called Pingala. If you are really healthy, you will breathe predominantly through the Ida nostril about one hour and fifty minutes, then through the Pingala nostril. But in many people, this natural rhythm is disturbed. Anuloma Viloma restores, equalizes and balances the flow of Prana in the body.

One round of Anuloma Viloma is made up of six steps, as shown below. Start by practicing three rounds and build up slowly to twenty rounds, extending the count within the given ratio.

The Vishnu Mudra

In Anuloma Viloma, you adopt the Vishnu Mudra with your right hand to close your nostrils. Tuck your index and middle finger into your nose. Place the thumb by your right nostril and your ring and little fingers by your left.

One Round of Anuloma Viloma (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

Anuloma Viloma 1
  • Inhale through the left nostril, closing the right with the thumb, to the count of four.
  • Anuloma Viloma 2
  • Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of sixteen.
  • Anuloma Viloma 3
  • Exhale through the right nostril, closing the left with the ring and little fingers, to the count of eight.
  • Anuloma Viloma 4
  • Inhale through the right nostril, keeping the left nostril closed with the ring and little fingers, to the count of four.
  • Anuloma Viloma 5
  • Hold the breath, closing both nostrils, to the count of sixteen.
  • Anuloma Viloma 6
  • Exhale through the left nostril, keeping the right closed with the thumb, to the count of eight.

  • Benefits of Anuloma Viloma

    The exercise of the Anuloma Viloma produces optimum function to both sides of the brain: that is optimum creativity and optimum logical verbal activity. This will make both sides of the brain, the left side which is responsible for logical thinking and the right side which is responsible for creative thinking to function properly. This will lead to a balance between a person's creative and logical thinking. The Yogis consider this to be the best technique to calm the mind and the Nervous System.

    Anuloma Viloma: The Scientific Confirmation

    Medical science has recently discovered the nasal cycle, something that was already discovered by the Yogis thousands of years ago. Modern scientists found out that we do not breathe equally on both nostrils, that is one nostril is much easier to breathe through than the other at any particular time. Each nostril alternates about every three hours. The Yogis claim that the natural period is every two hours, but we must remember these studies were done on people who do not have an optimum Health level.

    Scientists also discovered that the nasal cycle corresponds with brain function. The electrical activity of the brain was found to be greater on the side opposite the less congested nostril. The right side of the brain controls creative activity, while the left side controls logical verbal activity. The research showed that when the left nostril was less obstructed, the right side of the brain was predominant. 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 predominant. Test subjects did better on verbal skills.

    Medical science has not quite caught up with the ancient Yogis yet. The Ancient Yogis even went one step further. They observed that a lot of diseases were due to disturbances of the nasal cycle or if a person breathe for too long through one nostril. To prevent and correct this condition, they developed the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique. This clears any blockage the
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    airflow in the nostrils and reestablishes the natural nasal cycle. For example, the Yogis have known for a long time that prolonged breathing through the left nostril only (over a period of years) will cause Asthma. They also know that this so-called incurable disease can be easily treated by teaching the patient to breathe through the right nostril until the Asthma is cured and prevent it from recurring by doing the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique. The Yogis also believe that Diabetes is caused, to a large extent, by breathing mainly through the right nostril.

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    Article Comments
    Tuesday 18th December 2007 at 9:41:22 AM  

    I use to have cold and caugh most of the time when the weather changes but since I learned few asans and one of this is Anuloma Viloma pranayam, I have quite good relief in my caughing and cold symptoms.

    Saturday 15th August 2009 at 10:37:55 AM  

    this article gave me a new insight. I am suffering from Asthma since long. I heard about anulome vilome several time butconsider it a waste of time.First time now reading the logic behind this a real knowledge of it.
    thanks,this will help me too.

    Tuesday 18th August 2009 at 1:31:27 PM  

    let''s see how this works....i had heard a lot about this asana....

    Friday 18th September 2009 at 3:20:51 AM  

    I was suffering from asthma/congested nose in my early twenties. Thanks to yoga and knowledge on nasal cycle i.e ida and pingala nadi, I have managed to cure these diseases. During the night I sleep on my left side thus inhaling through the right nostril and activating the pingala nadi which is the solar nadi and thus keeping my body warm. I think this technique is good for water signs i.e cancerians, pisces. Activating the solar nadi alos makes more extrovert since water signs normally have a shy disposition.
    Other techniques would be welcoming

    Friday 25th September 2009 at 3:44:47 AM  

    I have problem of Diabetes as well as Asthama - as per the notings in this article, Asthama is by breating through left nostril and Diabetes through right nostril. Since i have both, what conclusion can be drawn??

    krishna kumar
    Thursday 10th December 2009 at 9:02:53 PM  

    I believe in it never practised regularly,that"s why not benefited.REGULARITY IS VERY ESSENTIAL IN YOGA.

    naren deshmukh
    Sunday 20th December 2009 at 12:41:24 AM  

    very perfect information

    Wednesday 6th January 2010 at 10:43:41 PM  

    how many times must do this per session?

    Sunday 21st March 2010 at 9:55:17 AM  

    if this calms the mind and the nervous system then I would assume it would benefit blood pressure readings?

    Wednesday 21st April 2010 at 11:05:53 PM  

    Just today I heard from Ramdeo baba ( The famous Yoga Guru) that you can control your breathing by putting cotton ball in your opposite ear. Like for curing cold, you need to put it in left ear so that you can start breathing from right nostril. You can save yourself from sunstrokes by putting a cotton ball in your right ear. I am yet to experience this.

    Ravi Sarma
    Saturday 4th September 2010 at 12:06:50 AM  

    Under "Vishnu Mudra '' above, you suggested: "Tuck your index and middle finger into your nose" and have not mentioned when to take them out.

    I hope it is not dangerous as it could stop breathing altogether (through either nostril..)

    Monday 4th October 2010 at 12:36:33 PM  

    hi is it true by this anuloma viloma can i controle my high bp pls suggest

    thank you all

    Wednesday 24th November 2010 at 8:59:19 AM  

    Alternate nostril breathing should be done only after maintain vegetarian diet. It "IS" harmful with non-veg diet.
    Also, it should be gradually increasing. May start with 2 minutes, then add 1 minute every week.
    If you cannot give up non-veg, then avoid doing alternate breating on days and day after you had non-veg.

    Thursday 25th November 2010 at 2:41:25 AM  

    With due respects to left & right nostril breathing or lack of proper breathing with problems or disease associated with it, I would like to mention that for several thousands of years the OM mantra has been practised by great rishis in India. "OM" when said for a period of 10 secs or more, continuously without interruptions with the sound coming out loud and clear(it should go on till the time your belly goes inwards exahaling air from the chest as well as the bottom stomach). As soon as the breathing out cylce is over, this leads to an atomatic and effortless process of inhalation or breathing in simulataneously through both the nostrils. After you finish breathing in, hold the breath for a count of 10 and then breath at your normal pace. After couple of normal breathing, start the process "OM" cycle once again; you can repeat this for 10 cycles and go upto 100 times depending upon your capacity after you practice regularly. During this exercise try to be aware or make conscious efforts to feel or concentrate the sound of air when you exhale while expressing "OM" because this can become a big part of your ''meditation'' routine. This exercise is absolutely harmless, simple and uncomplicated breathing exercise. You can start doing this for 5 minutes and can gradually go upto 60 minutes depending upon individuals.

    John Kumar
    Friday 17th December 2010 at 3:08:33 AM  

    Thanks for the great tip...anuloma viloma. I am having BP iregularities and sinusitis. I hope after practising this tech I would be able to get benefits. Thank you again.

    shanker Singh Rawat
    Saturday 12th February 2011 at 10:28:19 AM  

    Please advice complete dos and don''ts and precaution after and before yoga. Is bathing is advisable before yoga

    Saturday 12th February 2011 at 9:20:24 PM  

    i am aged 50 suddenly i have black patches on my cheecks and side of my faces what yoga practice can i do to cure very earlier please advice me.

    Wednesday 23rd February 2011 at 1:58:34 AM  


    Friday 4th March 2011 at 12:27:17 AM  

    Suggest a pranayam which is beneficial for persons in shift duties. That means the pranayam which can be done anytime during the day.

    Stupid Question
    Sunday 6th March 2011 at 1:04:10 AM  

    I have a bad case of haemorrhoids,...will the alternate breathing help that?

    Thursday 5th May 2011 at 7:44:08 AM  

    hi i suffer from bad anxiety will alternate breathing help with this and am on some medicaton is that ok some of which are blood pressure meds

    Spirit of Oz
    Wednesday 8th June 2011 at 10:16:16 PM  

    Thanks for this. I had always though we breathed in evenly between both. A new toy to playwith :)

    Saturday 20th August 2011 at 7:39:06 AM  

    I am doing anuloma viloma with inhalation of 10 counts, kumhaka of 40 counts and rechaka of 20 counts. Is it OK? Requestf or kind confirmation.

    Tuesday 13th September 2011 at 1:35:46 PM  

    I was sufering from severe anxiety problem and and started with Anulom Vilom, Bhramari and OMkar chanting..I am feeling lots of relief now and my mind is quite calm now. Thanks to BABA Ramdev for his effort.

    Thursday 29th September 2011 at 12:26:43 PM  

    Kindly explain the significance of switching nostrils AFTER INHALATION in anuloma viloma. Is it advisable to switch nostrils after exhalation instead of inhalation??

    Sunday 2nd October 2011 at 7:26:06 AM  

    If I perform this exercise for 20mins, for how much time before and after this exercise can I have food?

    Also after how much time after this exercise can I jog? Can I jog 15mins after doing this breathing?

    Saturday 15th October 2011 at 2:02:01 PM  

    My husband who is now 45 had been suffering from asthma from his age of 20 but once he started doing this Anuloma Viloma at his age of 40 I am pretty sure he is 95% cured. Please believe me. Give it a try, u are not going to loose anything. It really works. Me being diabetic had started doing this breathing exercise only few weeks back can find some changes.

    Hari Thapa
    Sunday 16th October 2011 at 9:45:55 PM  

    Thanks a lot for the great information and to baba RAM DEV too who has devoted his whole life for preaching the benefits of yoga. I also suffered from ASTHMA at the age of 25. I was shocked when doctor told me that this is chronic and not curable because in Nepal, people hate those who have asthma, telling ''dhamki''. I will give it a try to live asthma-free life.

    hindu culture
    Tuesday 1st November 2011 at 7:19:11 AM  

    anuloma viloma is very useful pranayama, benefits- it absorbs great amount of prana shakti, the key point is empty retention- that is holding breath before inhalation

    hindu culture
    Tuesday 1st November 2011 at 7:21:30 AM  

    it is observed by clairvoyants that much greater energy absorbed when breathing after ''empty retention''

    Wednesday 16th November 2011 at 10:14:15 AM  

    right nostril breathing helps controls the body while left nostril breathing controls the mind. meditate when left nostril is dominant and do asanas when the right is activated.

    Wednesday 30th November 2011 at 2:02:49 AM  

    alternative breathing or anulom vilom is the miraculous pranayam (nadi shodhan). one can open clogged arteries of the heart and bring down the blood pressure with in three months if carried out in proper way for 45 minutes both the times i.e morning and evening. i myself underwent three times angioplasty and was not feeling well, when i started doing this specific pranayam i got relief like any thing . the heart ejection factor also improved to the tune of 70%, the total cholestrol level came down to the tune of 121, hdl went up to the tune of 54, ldl came down to the tune of 53 and tgl came down to 52. it is really miraculous pranayam. as devo mein dev is mahadev, i would like to name it as maha pranayam. with out performing this pranayam one can not treat any desease. so in my opinion every body should perform this sort of pranayam on regular basis to get rid from all the deseases and to maintain the proper health.

    Friday 2nd December 2011 at 3:27:24 AM  

    i am practicing these pranayam since 2007 and since then i felt blessed changes in my body,, i am suffering from Nazlaa related with the symptoms of cough and cold..due to this,today i am very active and have no sign of it.

    Monday 12th December 2011 at 12:31:58 PM  

    After washing the face with mild soap,apply the edible coconut oil and then wash it with simple water and see the glow of your face within few days.

    Mashhadi Husain
    Monday 16th January 2012 at 10:48:58 AM  

    I had been suffering breathing problem, once I saw video on Anuloma viloma I started Anuloma viloma Last year now I have no problem of breathin

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