Breathing 101: Alternate Nostril Breath

Alternate nostril breathing is another way to quiet the mind and open to your most creative self. In yogic thought there are three energy channels in the body and we access two of them through the right and left sides of our nose. They spiral around the third channel which travels up the spine and passes through the energy centers of the body (chakras). Our left nostril provides access to the ida channel, our feminine side, represented by the moon and our right nostril provides access to the pingala channel, our masculine side, represented by the sun. It is through these channels that energy is distributed around the body. By accessing both sides through the alternate nostril breath practice we bring balance to our energy, allowing inspiration to flourish.


Alternate Nostril Breath Instructions:

1. Sit in a comfortable cross legged position or sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor, spine tall.

Practice the hand position for this practice first:

Place the pointer and middle fingers of your right hand between your eyebrows.

Use the thumb of your right hand to block off your right nostril.

Use the ring finger of your left hand to block off your left nostril.

2. With your fingers touching the space between your eyebrows, use your right thumb to block off your right nostril while you inhale through your left nostril.

3. At top of inhale, use your right ring finger to block off your left nostril and exhale through your right.

4. Leaving your left nostril blocked, inhale through the right.

5. As the top of inhale then block your right nostril with your thumb and exhale left.


You may notice that one side is easier to breathe through than the other. This is normal and typically shifts over the course of the day – the yogis tell us your right side will be more open in the morning when you need energy for the day and the left side will be more open at night when need to calm down and go to sleep.

Repeat, inhaling through one side and exhaling through the other until you feel a sense of clarity and calm. End your practice by taking three breaths through both sides of your nose.

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