Yoga is a 5000 year old discipline from India that involves series of stretches along with controlled breathing techniques. It strengthens your body, focuses your mind, and relaxes your spirit. The fact that it is easy to perform and doesn’t require many tools and set up is making it increasingly popular amongst people of all age groups and fitness levels, across the globe.
Although some of the asanas (practices) in yoga are vigorous and intense, but many of them are relaxing, meditative and can be easily learnt. Anulom Vilom or Alternate Nostril Breathing is the one which is considered to be the easiest, most relaxing and gives a meditative effect. It is a kind of Pranayam; a yogic breathing exercise in which you inhale from one nostril at a time and exhale from the other.
It helps you to maintain your concentration, energy and elevated levels of consciousness. It is best to practice this aasan (practice) early in the morning as it should be performed only on empty stomach. In case you want to do it later in the day then make sure to maintain a gap of at least 4-5 hours after the meal, so that your food gets completely digested.
- To perform anulom vilom, select an area where you can have access to fresh air and morning sunlight in abundance.
- Place your mat on the floor and sit with crossed legs as in Padmasan (posture). Those of you who cannot sit on floor may sit on a chair with straight back.
- Close your eyes and take 4-5 deep breaths to make yourself comfortable with this contemplative breathing exercise.
- Now close your right nostril with your right thumb and take a deep breath through your left nostril, slowly and gently, until your lungs are full.
- Thereafter release the thumb, close your left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand and breathe out from the right nostril, again slowly and gently.
- Next inhale from the right nostril as deeply as you can, keeping the left closed; and then release the left nostril and close the right with your right thumb and exhale from the left nostril.
- This completes one round of anulom vilom. You may complete 5 iterations in one sitting and gradually aim for increasing it to 20 per sitting. With time your duration of breathing in and out will also increase.
- Generally yoga experts recommend two sittings of anulom vilom in a day; one in morning and one in evening.
- Advanced practitioners may have four sittings of this padmasana each day but it is important to compliment it with satvik diet (pure(no non veg, no onion & garlic), nourishing and light).
- It is essential to practice correct way of breathing, while doing anulom vilom. Make sure you breathe deeply into your lungs and not into the stomach.
In recent times, this simple yogic breathing exercise is gaining popularity mainly because of two reasons. Firstly, it can be conveniently incorporated in one’s busy schedule. Secondly, although it was traditionally practiced to relax and strengthen the mind and to prepare the body for meditation, now a days it is proving to be an effective prevention and cure for many lifestyle disorders. Some of the health benefits of doing anulom vilom regularly are as follows:
- Anulom vilom has a very calming effect on your mind and cleanses it from all kind of stress and anxiety.
- It is an excellent and easy remedy to all respiratory problems like sinusitis, asthma, etc.
- Research says right side of our brain is responsible for our creative skills and left side is responsible for logical verbal skills. By practicing alternate nostril breathing exercise, we can get better correlation between these two sides of our brain which results in better concentration, endurance, determination, creativity and decision making abilities as well.
- It encourages the flow of positive energy into your body and mind, enlightens you from within and helps you to overcome all forms of negative forces like anger, fear, tension, etc.
- Practising anulom vilom regularly can provide an effective cure to many serious lifestyle health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, hormonal imbalances, migraine and depression.
- It is a good exercise for your heart, as it facilitates removal of blockages in arteries and maintains optimal cholesterol levels.
- This yogic breathing exercise also offers relief from arthritis, varicose veins, ligament issues and many other muscular ailments.
- Anulom vilom also has a positive effect on our digestive system. It regulates the overall metabolism and thus promotes weight loss.
- It further helps in the treatment of flatulence, constipation, acidity and gastrointestinal problems.
- It increases oxygen supply and improves blood circulation throughout the body; which in turn helps in better functioning of eyes, ears and other vital organs.
- By vitalizing your inner self with positivity it leaves a radiant glow on your face.
- It is also known to be an effective prevention for cancer.
This simple exercise doesn’t come with an emphatic list of do’s and don’ts, but few safety measures are highly advisable.
- It should be done on an empty stomach.
- Avoid doing it within an hour after bathing or having sex.
- Don’t overdo it. Don’t try to inhale/exhale beyond your limit.
- Pregnant and menstruating women should avoid doing anulom vilom.
- People who suffer from heart ailments should consult their doctors before taking up this yogic exercise. And even if your doctor permits you, don’t do it with too much force.
Remember a healthy mind will lead you to a healthy life; and that is the bottom line of this yogic exercise. I am sure after learning about its multiple benefits; it has motivated you enough to set your alarm clocks for an early morning rise. Practice it regularly to reap maximum benefits.
“Take care of yourself and life will follow”
A full time work from home mother, she utilises her spare time to contribute insightful articles around day to day lifestyle challenges and their remedies, that all can relate to. Trust Aafiya to provide apt advice on diet mechanism, nutritional facts and common home remedies.
Away from writing, Aafiya is statistics post graduate, has worked earlier in the field of Research & Education and loves travelling.
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