Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing is a relaxing yoga breathing technique that stimulates the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS).  It is one of my favorite pranayama exercises to perform prior to meditation as it relaxes the mind and body without becoming lethargic.  The medical benefits of stimulating the PNS include:

  • Decreased heart rate
  • Low vagal tone
  • Decreased pain perception
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Optimized immune system



Sit in a comfortable position with your body relaxed, either cross-legged on the floor or on a chair.

Rest your left arm on your lap and begin to breathe deeply through your nose for at least one minute.

Bend down your right index and middle finger.  Hold your right thumb by your right nostril and your ring finger by your left nostril

Close your Right nostril and inhale through the Left.  Keeping the fingers the same, inhale through your Right nostril.

Close the Right nostril and exhale through the Left

This is one complete cycle.  Continue this cycle, aiming for smooth breathing for 2-5 minutes.  After your last exhale, unblock both nostrils and take at least 3 deep breaths.

Note: It is normal to experience some nasal drainage and feel an opening of the sinus cavities after completing alternate nostril breathing.  If you feel congested, you may want to gentle blow your nose prior to beginning.


Danucalov, M.A., et al. (2008). Cardiorespiratory and metabolic changes during Yoga sessions:  the effects of respiratory exercises and meditation practices.  Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback.  33: 77-81.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. お寺 ホームページ
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 22:14:38

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  2. Corrine Liebrecht
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 11:01:30

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