Alternate Nostril Breathing

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Alternate Nostril Breathing is an effective way to calm the body and to relax. It is ideal to do as you are going to sleep or in the middle of the day to assist you in calming your mind and relaxing. It is one of the breathing exercises used by naturopathic doctors.


  • calming effect on the nervous system
  • purifies the bloodstream and aerates the lungs
  • improves digestion and appetite
  • helps to overcome insomnia
  • soothes headaches
  • helps to overcome insomnia
  • helps to free the mind of anxiety and depression


  1. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position, back straight or lie flat on your back.
  2. Raise your RIGHT hand and place your ring finger against your LEFT nostril, closing it off.
  3. Inhale deeply and slowly through the RIGHT nostril to the count of four.
  4. Close off the RIGHT nostril with your thumb and retain the breath for 1-4 seconds.
  5. Open the LEFT nostril and exhale to the count of 4-8 seconds. The longer you can make the exhalation, the better. Concentrate on completely emptying the lungs.
  6. Breathe in through that same LEFT nostril to the count of 4.
  7. Close off the nostril with the ring finger again and hold to the count of 1-4 seconds.
  8. Exhale through the RIGHT nostril to the count of 4-8 seconds. This makes up one round.
  9. Repeat these rounds of alternate nostril breathing five more times
  10. Practise a ratio of 4:4:8, if at all possible. Increase this to 8:4:8 eventually, then 8:8:8, after some months.

Do's and Don'ts:

  • DO practise whenever you need calming - if you are nervous, upset or irritable.
  • DO make the breathing rhythmic, smooth and slow.
  • DO NOT push yourself with the holding position or by increasing the count.