Alternate nostril breathing is done by alternating between the two nostrils when breathing. To do this, you breathe through only one nostril at a time. The logic behind this is that normal breathing alternates from one nostril to the other at various times during the day. In a healthy person the breath will alternate between nostrils about every two hours but because most people are not in optimum health, this time period varies considerably between people and reduces their vitality. If the right nostril is used, the result will be a mental and nervous disturbance. If the left nostril is used, the result will be chronic fatigue and reduced brain function. The longer the flow of breath in one nostril, the more serious the illness will be.
There are a couple benefits of doing alternate nostril breathing. First, the exercise produces optimum function to both sides of the brain (optimum creativity and optimum logical verbal activity) and also creates a more balanced person, with both halves of the brain functioning properly. Second, yogis consider this to be the best technique to calm the mind and the nervous system.
Medical science has recently discovered the nasal cycle (known by yogis thousands of years ago) and that one nostril is much easier to breathe through than the other at any particular time and that this alternates about every three hours. The 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 study showed that when the left nostril was less obstructed, the right side of the brain was predominant. Test subjects did better on creative tests. When the right nostril was less obstructed the left side of the brain was predominant and the test subjects did better on verbal skills.
One of the ways to do alternate nostril breathing is as follows:
1. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril to the count of four seconds and exhale through this nostril to the count of eight seconds.
2. Inhale through the right nostril to the count of four seconds and exhale through this nostril to the count of eight seconds.
Do the above two steps three times.