Pranayama - Beneficial Effects of Nadishodhana Pranayama(Alternate Nostril Breathing)

"pranayama" - The ancient practice


  • Pranayama if practised regularly using correct technique, is beneficial to the mind and body
  • Improper technique while doing pranayama can invite untoward effects

Of late, there is lot of attention being paid to yogic practices and pranayama (pranayam) by people from India and abroad. Practice of pranayama (pranayam) is known to make physiological and mental changes in the practising person. This hub explores the meaning and technique of nadishodhana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) and its physiological benefits.

What is Prana and Pranayama?

According to BKS Iyengar, who is the pioneer in the field of Patanjali yoga, the meaning of Prana is difficult to explain as it is to explain God. He explains prana as the energy permeating the universe at physical, mental, intellectual, sexual, spiritual and cosmic levels. Pranayama is the technique of controlling this vital energy.

BKS Iyengar on Pranayama

Nadishodhana Pranayama-Padmasana posture


How to do Nadishodhana Pranayama(alternate nostril breathing)

Sit in Padmasana or any convenient or comfortable position. Sit quietly for some time with the back and spinal column firm and erect. The arms should be kept down with the back of the wrists resting on the knees. Tip of index finger and tip of the thumb of both hands should be touching each other. The other fingers kept extended. Keep the eyes closed and breathe in normal fashion and observe the breaths.

Nadishodhana Pranayama-Position of fingers


Bring the right hand to the left nostril and press the left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger to block it. The pressure should be just enough to block the flow of air. Pressure should not be too much as it may push and irritate the nasal septum.

While doing this, the left hand should rest on the knee and middle and index fingers of the right hand should be folded and other fingers extended as shown in the picture.

Position of fingers while doing nadishodhana(alternate nostril) pranayama


Exhale through the right nostril. Then, inhale slowly, smoothly and relaxingly through the right nostril. Feel the breath entering the nose at the centre by the sides of the septum. You can feel the light fragrance and cold. Air should not be allowed to enter through left nostril. A fine flow of breath through the right nostril will completely fill the lungs.

Position of fingers while doing nadishodhana(alternate nostril) pranayama

Once the lungs are completely filled, block the right nostril with thumb of the right hand gently but completely without putting pressure on the nasal septum and left nostril. Exhale slowly, steadily, smoothly and relaxingly through the left nostril. Once you feel that the lungs are empty, continue to block the right nostril and inhale slowly, steadily, smoothly and relaxingly through the left nostril.

Continue the process for alternate nostrils. You can start with may be ten cycles or fifteen cycles in the beginning and gradually increase the time. Breath holding can be done in between inhalations. But it is not advisable for beginners. It is best for the beginners of pranayama to concentrate on inhalation and exhalation.

What are the benefits of doing nadishodhana pranayama?

This technique of pranayama, yoga breathing was being practised by yogis from centuries and was found to have beneficial effects like cleansing the body of impurities and improving concentration.

The modern scientists also have proved its beneficial effectsof pranayama exercises using research methodologies and scientific testing.

A study conducted among healthy volunteers in Gangtok has shown that heart rate and systolic blood pressure was decreased immediately after nadishodhana pranayama(anuloma viloma). It has also shown that nadishodhana pranayama improved lung function and problem solving skills.

Another study conducted among school students in Tamilnadu, India has shown that nadishodhana pranayama (anuloma viloma) significantly improves lung function. The study recommends regular pranayama practice for school children.

In today’s world of rat race, we don’t get enough time to relax and exercise. Pranayama is one exercise which has got both the qualities of exercise and relaxation.

A word of caution: Please start practicing pranayama only after learning the techniques from certified and experienced practitioners. If you do it wrongly, it may have harmful effects.

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Comments 19 comments

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 3 years ago from India Author

Hi Huntgoddess,

There are many scientific studies showing that yoga and Pranayama help in controlling hypertension. But you have to learn it from registered practitioners.

Thanks for the visit and comment

Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 3 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

I've always wanted to learn more about this, to control high blood pressure.

Thanks for the info. Also, nice to see a video of BKS Iyengar. I never knew what he looked like.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to exhale like that, though :-))

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi sweetie2,

Thank you very much for your visit.

I am glad that pranayama helps to keep you healthy.

sweetie2 profile image

sweetie2 4 years ago from Delhi

Very nicely explained hub on prayanaam. I usually do alom vilom daily in the morning and it is helps me lot in winters and it is over 3 years now that I caught cold.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi viveresperando,

Thanks for the visit:)

Don't worry, You don't pass out if you do this. this kind of breathing is very relaxing.......

viveresperando profile image

viveresperando 4 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

I just finished reading a book about this type of breathing! I feel better reading your hub about it also, more precise, more clear. hmmm... I might give it a go even though I have not been trained, giggles. Like she said bellow, hope I don't pass out.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi maheshtcr1

Thanks for the visit

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 5 years ago from India Author

Hi Dinkan,

Please don't stop your practice

It is very good for your body and mind as well

Thanks for the visit:)

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 5 years ago from India Author

Dear Anna,

Don't worry about the postion of your fingers. You will get it with practice. What is more important is that you close your nostril gently and take in breath through the other nostril slowly, genly, smoothly and relaxingly

If possible, learn it from a good trainer of yoga in your place.

If you practice it daily, you feel a lot lighter and energetic

Thanks for the visit:)

dinkan53 profile image

dinkan53 5 years ago from India

Great hub here, I was too much interested in learning the breathing techniques and was practicing it regularly a few years back. After going through your hub I decided to start the practice again, so thanks a lot. Voted up and useful.

Global-Chica profile image

Global-Chica 5 years ago from New York, NY

Thanks for the great hub and explaining pranayama. Weirdly, I can't get my fingers in the same position as the picture because my ring finger doesn't seem to stay up the same way. The breathing technique seems excellent. Voted up!

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 5 years ago from India Author

Thanks Felixedet. Your comments are valuable.

Felixedet2000 profile image

Felixedet2000 5 years ago from The Universe

great hub, what a useful info you have in here. thanks for the hub.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 5 years ago from India Author

Hi, Om Parampoonya. Yes this really works. Thanks for validating.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

Great hub. This breathing technique really works! I learned it in my yoga class and have been doing it every now and then when I feel tired or unfocused. And it's like I just "reboot" my brain.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 5 years ago from India Author

I am happy to have you here. You gave the first comment on my first hub. I appreciate your comments and remember you. Thank you. Have a great day.

Sneha Sunny profile image

Sneha Sunny 5 years ago from India

Nice share.. Yoga have a lots of benefits which we can't even think of. We used to do this at school. I must start all the exercises and yoga again.. :) Thanks for sharing.. :)

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 5 years ago from India Author

I am sure you will not faint by doing this. But I really enjoyed your comment. Thank you.

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jenubouka 5 years ago

Very interesting info, I might try this today, and hope I don't pass out, I bookmarked it so I could get it right.

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