Alternate Nostril Breathing
1. Put your right hand up to your nose. Hold your index and middle fingers on your forehead to hold your hand stable. You'll notice your thumb is on the right side of your nose and your ring and little fingers are on the left side.
2. Now use your thumb to plug your right nostril. Take a slow, deep breath in through your left nostril, counting to eight. Slow down your in-breath so it takes eight seconds to fill your lungs.
3. Plug your left nostril (so both sides are now blocked) and hold your breath to a count of eight.
4. Now lift your thumb off your right nostril (keeping your left nostril plugged) and breathe out steadily, through your right nostril only, for a count of eight.
5. Do not pause at the end of the breath. Immediately start breathing in through the right nostril to a count of eight.
6. Plug both sides and hold your breath for a count of eight.
7. Now breathe out through your left nostril for a count of eight.
8. Start all over again, breathing in through your left nostril.
Breathe in and out as quietly as you can. This makes your breath slow and even.
This seems a lot more complicated than it is. It's very simple once you've done it a couple times.
This technique occupies your mind. All the holding and counting is absorbing. This simple activity successfully keeps out other thoughts, and thus it is a form of meditation. And it is very relaxing.
It is a scientific fact that your nostrils normally change dominance. Throughout the day, without using any technique, the blood flow alternates every couple of hours between the left and right sides of the nose, causing first one and then the other nostril to become more congested, allowing air to flow more easily into and out of the uncongested nostril.
Apparently, this shift back and forth every 90 to 120 minutes is associated with brain hemisphere dominance. When the left nostril is more open, people test better on right hemisphere tasks like spatial relations. When the right nostril is more open, people do better at left-brain tasks like verbal expression. Therefore, alternate nostril breathing helps achieve balance between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and is a great way to access your whole brain for improved performance for an exam or other such task.
Here are some other benefits to be gained from this practice
It greatly helps oxygenate your blood, thus boosting energy in a calming, centering way.
A few rounds of alternate nostril breathing is a quick pick-me-up if you are feeling tired or stressed.
A daily five-minute practice morning and night of alternate nostril breathing is an excellent way to remove stale air and impurities from the bottom of your lungs. 70% of our body's waste products are eliminated via our lungs.
This breathing practice is a powerful way to calm an agitated mind. The ancient yogis believed that if you can regulate your breath, then you can control your mind. Remember: your mind should not be in control of you – you should be in control of your mind!
A few rounds of mindful nostril breathing will help soften the intensity of over-reactive emotional states. Also, the longer you practice, the more stable your thinking and the calmer your emotions will become in general.
If you can't sleep at night, lay on your right side, and gently close your right nostril with your right thumb. Breathe through your left nostril. This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which will calm you down and relax your heart rate, helping to induce sleep.
This is also a very good way to prepare for a meditation session. It can help you slip into a meditative state more quickly, especially if you develop a routine of including it into your practice.
Single left nostril breathing (by closing your right nostril) will direct the flow of oxygen and energy to the right hemisphere of the brain, allowing for the parasympathetic nervous system to be switched on. This is soothing to the nervous system in a culture that tends to perpetuate a low-level fight-or-flight state (sympathetic nervous system activation) much of the time.
Thank you to the following internet sources for this information:
The Rejuvenation Lounge, and www.youmeworks.com