Anuloma Viloma is a pranayama technique or breath exercise used in Hatha Yoga practice. It’s also known as “alternate nostril breathing”. Everyday practice of this pranayama exercise has lots of different benefits. Not only it helps to get into a deep meditative state and relax but also it helps general rejuvenation of the body.
In this article, I’ll share with you step by step guide on how to practice Anuloma Viloma, what the benefits of this practice, what mistakes people usually make during the practice, and inspire you to turn this breathing exercise into your everyday practice!
Anuloma Viloma Benefits
To get you excited about this practice I want to start with its benefits which are really incredible!
Here are the benefits of a regular Anuloma Viloma practice:
- purifies energy channels;
- balances the two brain hemispheres;
- stabilizes the nervous system;
- strengthens the respiratory system;
- restores blood circulation;
- relieves muscle tension;
- eliminates CO2 and other waste products from the blood;
- increases the resistance to stress;
- improves mood;
- expels stale air from the lungs;
- improves heart and blood vessels;
- oxygenates the blood;
- increases concentration;
- profoundly calms the mind;
- increases creativity;
- helps to activate Third eye chakra;
- boosts intuition;
- stabilizes blood pressure;
- balances inner solar and lunar energies;
- relaxes muscles and internal organs;
- harmonizes prana (the life force energy);
- increases blood supply to the digestive system;
- prepares the mind for meditation;
- stimulates various brain centers;
- cleanses the stomach of toxic substances;
- increases the clarity of thought;
- improves the immune system and strengthens the body’s protective functions;
- lowers stress and anxiety;
- stabilizes the endocrine system;
- purifies the Nadis (subtle energy channels);
- boosts rejuvenation processes in the body due to regulated hyperventilation;
- improves digestive processes.
Short-term lack of oxygen increases resistance to diseases, improves the immune system, starts the process of healing the body and cleansing of toxins.
As a result of performing Anuloma Viloma, aging of the body slows down, metabolic processes are restored and cell formation increases. When switching to the energy-saving mode, the muscle clamps relax while holding the breath.
The Essence of Anuloma Viloma
Anuloma pranayama is a fairly simple breathing practice for everyday use. According to ancient yogic texts, the human energy body consists of 72 thousand Nadi channels. For our Anuloma Viloma practice, we are primarily interested in three main Nadis: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna.
Ida and Pingala symbolize opposites: Moon and Sun, Yin and Yang, Day and Night, cheerfulness and relaxation. Sushumna is a level of consciousness in which there are no divisions.
The basis of the practice of Anuloma Viloma is alternate breathing with the nostrils. In yoga, the left nostril is associated with the Ida and the right nostril – with Pingala. The main task of pranayama is to balance these two opposites as much as possible.
Even scientists have shown that breathing through the right nostril stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, and through the left nostril – parasympathetic. Breathing only through the right nostril increases the heart rate, and through the left nostril – reduces it.
There are two main principles we should always follow while performing Anuloma Viloma.
Principle 1: the Alternation of the Nostrils
Even with the normal breathing of a healthy person, the nostrils take turns breathing every 90 minutes. When performing pranayama Anuloma Viloma it is very important that both nostrils are clean and breathing well.
Principle 2: the Exact Proportions of the Inhalation-Exhalation-Delay
Using the exact proportions and their gradual increase help to balance the flow of prana.
Anuloma Viloma should be practiced on an empty stomach!
Sit comfortably with the straight spine.
Rest the left palm on the knee in Jnana Mudra (thumb and index fingers touching) to create a pranic circuit that drives energy toward the brain.
Place the right hand in Vishnu Mudra (by tucking the index and middle fingers into the palm). The thumb, ring, and pinky fingers will be more or less extended.
Close your eyes. Inhale comfortably. Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Exhale slowly and completely through the left nostril.
Now for the first round, inhale slowly and comfortably through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the ring or pinky finger – and then release the thumb from the right nostril.
Exhale slowly and completely through the right nostril. Now breathe in through the right nostril. Close the right with the thumb, release the ring or pinky finger from the left, and exhale through the left.
This completes one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.
Advancing Anuloma Viloma
In the beginning phase, the inhalations and exhalations should match, and the breath is never held. Master this technique before moving on.
Next, the inhalations and exhalations can be extended gradually up to a count of 10.
The next stage is to incorporate internal breath retention and to begin extending the exhalation. After inhaling for 4 counts, hold both nostrils closed for eight counts, then exhale for eight counts.
The next stage is to move on to a 1:4:2 ratio (inhalation: internal retention: exhalation). According to ancient yoga texts, this ratio has profound psychological effects. Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 16, and exhale for 8. Work with this ratio for weeks, months, or even years until it feels comfortable and natural. Slowly, increase the count to 5:20:10, 6:24:12, or even 7:28:14.
There should be no hurry in mastering any pranayama. All attention and efforts should be directed to the correct development of the technique. Only after one hundred percent development of one of the stages you can move on.
Read this section again after several sessions of Anuloma Viloma. After real practice, you will be able to assess your capabilities in a different way and identify your own mistakes.
When practicing Anuloma Viloma make sure you are NOT:
- Using the left hand instead of the right;
- Hunching over;
- Using the wrong fingers;
- Tensing the right shoulder;
- Dropping the chin;
- Inhaling too deeply;
- Exhaling too quickly;
- Keeping your eyes open.
Anuloma Viloma is breathing pranayama that purifies you on the energy level. And with a certain persistence in its development, this practice helps to get rid of diseases and even rejuvenates the body. By simply practicing it 5-10 minutes twice a day in 2-3 months you will feel significant changes in your body!