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Alternate Nostril Breathing.

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

NADI SHODHANA - 'Clearing the channels of circulation'.

There are so many wonderful breathing techniques that we can learn (and should) alongside our physical yoga practice. The most familiar being 3 Part Breath or belly breathing, Ujjayi and Alternate nostril breathing. Each of them possess powerful benefits that will make a difference to your physical practice and your state of mind. Alternate nostril breathing in particular has a beautiful way of creating balance, within a few short minutes we can feel calmer, more connected and rebalanced. It works by creating a 'horseshoe' effect when we breathe in and out alternate nostrils, we consciously control the breath stimulating left and right side of the brain. Very often when we are always rushing around we are somehow constantly in a state of stress, this can mean our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) it's always active. With this nervous system working over time we can get emotional, exhausted, burnt out, stressed, frustrated, clumsy and physically in pain. Basically we can't seem to control anything because all of our 'tabs' are open all at once! By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) we allow the body and mind space and time to process, rest and heal. One thing at a time!

Benefits of this breathing technique:

  • Balances both hemispheres of the brain

  • Reduces anxiety and stress

  • Lowered heart rate

  • Brings us into focus and clarity

  • Stimulates the lungs and increases lung capacity

  • Rebalances an overwhelmed body and mind

  • Helps to regulate body temperature

  • Can help bring you into a meditative state



1. First find a quiet space for this practice, over time we become attuned to practicing within busy places (and busy thoughts!) But to help us focus and move deeper into the practice a quiet space is always preferable. Find a comfortable seated posture on your mat, or sit in a chair. Your sit-bones ground down as you lift through the crown of the head, creating space within the waist. An effortless lift.

2. Rest your left hand on your left thigh or knee, palm facing up or bring the hand into Chin Mudra.

3. Bringing the right hand into Vishnu mudra, or gently rest the index and middle finger between the eyebrows.

4. Using the right thumb, Close the right nostril, and inhale as slowly as you can through the left nostril, then close it with your ring finger. Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril.

5. With the right nostril now open, inhale slowly, then close it with the thumb. Exhale through the left nostril.

6. Once your exhalation is complete, inhale through the left, close the left, exhale right.

7. Continue this sequence (maybe even visualising the horseshoe shape breath as it moves into the lungs. Inhale left, exhale right, inhale right, exhale left.

8. You will soon find a natural and calming rhythm with this wonderful breathing technique. Once you feel comfortable and confident you can work towards doubling the length of the exhalations. Ratio 1 : 2 so the length of each exhalation is double the inhale.

9. You can practice 9 rounds and build up to 3 minutes, take your time and enjoy the journey!

+ If you feel dizzy or that the nostrils are congested you're welcome to rest. Take your time to breathe, much like our physical practice this is something not to be forced but given the time to be invited in with mindfulness.


This is a practice not to be rushed and doesn't need any expectation or goal to reach. By exploring Nadi Shodhana we calm the body and mind, the more we practice the more these things become balance!

Ancient yogic texts explain that the right nostril is our sun nostril and it controls our energy levels, productivity, stress and action. Our left nostril is our lunar nostril and it controls our emotions, our calm state of mind and creativity. If we are tired or feeling fatigued breathing long and deep through the right nostril will give us added energy. Breathing through the left nostril will bring us into a state of calm and relaxation.

"Just as the activities of the mind influence the breath, so does the breath influence our state of mind." ~T.K.V. Desikachar

I hope you enjoy this practice and do take your time to get used to it, sometimes the things that we dislike or don't enjoy are actually the things that teach us the most! Do you practice breathing techniques alongside your yoga practice? Would you like to learn more about different breathing techniques?

Take a deep breath in....

And a deep breath out...

You're now ready for anything!

All my love,

V x

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