“What is the benefit of alternate nostril breathing? It gives you control of behavior. It gives you control on the temperature of the body. If you breathe through the left nostril, you will be calm and regain your strength. Alternate breathing through left nostril and right nostril gives you the balance help, balance behavior and control of your temperament” ~ Yogi Bhajan (November 23, 1976)
This simple yet most powerful technique is a pranayam that is easy to do, and it creates a deep sense of well-being and harmony on the physical, mental, and emotional levels. It is integrating and grounding, and balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain
Relax and enjoy a feeling of well-being. The energy of the nervous system is directly proportional to one’s breathing. The Creator in His wisdom gave us two nostrils. Ancient yogic texts explain that the nostril on the right is our sun nostril and it controls our energy level; our left nostril is our lunar nostril and it controls our emotions.
Consequently, if we are tired, breathing long and deep through the right nostril will give us added energy. Breathing through the left nostril will bring us calmness even in the midst of emotions (anger, nervousness, joy, sadness).
When we breathe long and deeply through alternate nostrils, the whole nervous system is soothed, calmed and energized simultaneously. All that is required of a person is to do this alternate nostril breathing for 3–5 minutes and one’s whole nervous system will be revitalized.
This particular technique is very simple, yet very effective. It is extremely helpful when we feel off-center and we still must function in the everyday world. For instance, we may be scheduled for an important interview, or business endeavor and find ourselves extremely nervous or irritable. This technique can help us calm ourselves and be effective in our communication.
Posture: Sit with a straight spine. You may be in Easy Pose or on a chair, wherever you can keep your spine straight and be comfortable.
Mudra and Breath: Using the thumb and index fingers of the right hand, make a “U” of the two fingers, using the thumb to close off the right nostril and the index finger to close off the left nostril.
Close the left nostril, inhale deeply through the right nostril. At the end of the inhale, close the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril.
Now inhale through the left nostril fully and deeply, then close the left nostril and exhale through the right one.
Again, inhale through the right nostril and continue alternate nostril breathing. The breath must be complete and full on both the inhalation and exhalation cycles.
Time: Continue for 3 – 5 minutes.
To End: Inhale deeply, hold the breath a few seconds, lower the hand, and exhale.
The above quote came from a lecture given at UCLA by the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan on November 23, 1976. You can listen to that lecture here: