Alternate Nostril

At an event, September 7th, 2017, Hillary Clinton shared some of the tools she used to overcome her disappointment at losing the election to Donald Trump. She said, “I did some yoga. I tried alternate nostril breathing. I highly recommend it. It kind of calms you down.” She also used prayer, friendship, readings, and a “fair share of chardonnay.” Through her process of self-care, Clinton discovered something that yogis have known for thousands of years: that yoga breathing gives the practitioner the power to calm themselves down.

But what is Alternate Nostril Breathing and why would it work?

Alternate Nostril, known as Nādī Shodhana in yoga, is the process of alternating the breath in the nostrils as an act of clearing the energy channels, or nādīs, in the body. The beauty of this practice is that you don’t have to believe in energy channels for it to work. Research has shown that the practice lowers the blood pressure (Telles, et. al., 2014 & Telles, et.al., 2013), calms the mind better than quiet sitting (Telles, et. al., 2017), tones the parasympathetic nervous system known as the relaxation response (Sinha, et. al., 2013), changes the heart rate variability (Subramanian, et. al., 2016; Ghiya, et. al., 2012)as well as a number of other benefits (research on alternate nostril breathing).

“I do it every day.”  — Timothy McCall, MD, board-certified internist, Yoga Journal’s medical editor
See his recent article, Is Alternate Nostril Breathing Really Just Placebo? A Response To The Atlantic

Vishnu Mudrā

How to Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing

  • Sit with the spine erect.
  • Use Vishnu Mudrā by making a fist of your right hand. Next, release the thumb and the ring and pinky fingers, leaving the index and middle finger against your palm.
  • The hand is situated in front of the nose. The thumb is for closing the right nostril, the ring and pinky are for closing the left nostril.
  • Place the thumb against your right nostril and slowly inhale through your left.
  • Close off the left nostril with the ring and pinky fingers of your right hand.
  • Then release your thumb and slowly exhale through your right.
  • Inhale through your right, then close off the right nostril, then exhale through your left. This is one round (one round = two breaths).
  • Keep the inhalation even with the exhalation.
  • Do five rounds to begin, ending by exhaling through your left nostril. Work your way up to the tradition count of 12 rounds (24 breaths).
  • Always begin and end through the left nostril.

Options for practice:

  • Begin with 1:1 breath – inhaling for a count of 4, exhaling for a count of 4.
  • As you are ready, advance to 1:2 – inhale for 4, exhale for 8.
  • If it feels appropriate, add a slight pause of two counts at the top of the inhale.
  • Practice 4 times a day for deep balancing.

About the Author

Rose Kress

Rose Kress ERYT-500, C-IATY, YACEP, Director of the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute, which trains yoga and health professionals internationally. She is the author of two CDs, edits the research newsletter, and directs the training programs for LifeForce Yoga.

27 thoughts on “Alternate Nostril”

  1. Shari Phares Aslaksen says:

    I wanted to sign up for the 21 day challenge beginning Oct 1st but did not know how???

    1. Rose Kress says:

      Hello Shari- We have added you to the list, emails go out tomorrow. There is more information here: https://yogafordepression.com/breathe/
      Thank you!

  2. Judith Robinson says:

    I want to be a part of the 30 day challenge that starts October 1. Thank you.

    1. Rose Kress says:

      Hello Judith- We have added you to the list, emails go out tomorrow. There is more information here: https://yogafordepression.com/breathe/
      Thank you!

  3. I know I should do this–but haven’t picked up the habit.

    1. Rose Kress says:

      Hello Lisabeth- We have added you to the list, emails go out tomorrow. There is more information here: https://yogafordepression.com/breathe/
      We’ll have a live video discussion tomorrow on the practice 🙂
      Thank you!

  4. Nanette says:

    Please include me in the nostril challenge

    1. Rose Kress says:

      Hello Nanette- We have added you to the list, emails go out tomorrow. There is more information here: https://yogafordepression.com/breathe/
      Thank you!

  5. karen says:

    I was just about to commit to doing this practice on my own when I saw this. Perfect!

    1. Rose Kress says:

      Hi Karen- That is fantastic, great minds think alike 😉
      We have added you to the list, emails go out tomorrow. There is more information here: https://yogafordepression.com/breathe/
      Thank you!

  6. Linda says:

    I want to become a part of the alternative nostril breathing challenge!

    1. Rose Kress says:

      We have added you to the challenge. There is more information here: https://yogafordepression.com/breathe/

  7. Mary Martin says:

    Yes, I would like to be part of this breathing challenge, too. Thanks!

    1. Rose Kress says:

      Hello Mary- We have added you to the list, emails go out tomorrow. There is more information here: https://yogafordepression.com/breathe/
      Thank you!

  8. Karen says:

    Hi Rose
    Could you sign me up for the challenge please.
    I must be practicing another version (which I learned over 30 years ago). It includes a breath retention between in and out breath.
    Thanks
    Karen

    1. Rose Kress says:

      Hello Karen- Yes, there are different versions.
      We have added you to the list, emails go out tomorrow. There is more information here: https://yogafordepression.com/breathe/
      Thank you!

  9. Ramona Miranda says:

    Yes I would like to learn more about this practice

    1. Rose Kress says:

      We have added you to the list, emails go out tomorrow. There is more information here: https://yogafordepression.com/breathe/
      Thank you!

  10. Sarah says:

    Yes please! I’m in!

  11. Gloria says:

    Please add me to your list. Just seeing this now.

  12. Noelle Farmer says:

    I’m with you Rose!!

  13. Nancy A. Tan says:

    I attended your Friday session (Saturday morning) and did Day 1 this morning. Not sure if I have done registering. Posted by picture in FB also under Nancy A. Tan. Is there anything else I need to do? Instagram is nancya.tan. I am so new to this. Thank you!

    1. Rose Kress says:

      You are good to go!

  14. Olga Campora says:

    I am in!

  15. Marcia Siegel says:

    I want to be added to the list. I already had been doing this with another group and today was day 25 for me but I plan on continuing this. My blood pressure has gone down and I have to keep track of the bp and my pulse rate for medical doc to prove to him that I am ready to get off the medication. Lots of incentive for me. I do not know how to do that hashtag stuff- FB is plenty. I hope this was a private message to you, Rose. 🙂 Marcia

  16. Patricia Kalma says:

    Hello,
    I would like to be part of the alternate nostril breathing challenge. thanks!

    1. Amy Weintraub says:

      Hi Patricia, Just now saw this, sorry! We have added you to the list, you can start at any time or unsubscribe. There is more information here: https://yogafordepression.com/breathe/
      Thank you!

Comments are closed.

Sign up for our Research Newsletter

Cart

What People Say

“Words do not do justice to all that I learned. This workshop changed my life!” — Jen Nolan, Teacher, Cortland, NY
“I have found the LFYP training to be incredibly useful in giving people specific tools to use in maintaining physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance, and further opening their intuitive abilities.” — Nancy Windheart, RYT-200, LFYP, Reiki Master, Animal communication teacher, Prescott, AZ
“I came hoping to learn to move past some of the obstacles blocking my creativity. Over the course of this weekend, I feel I’ve gained a certain measure of faith in myself and in my ability to change. I also had some realizations that I believe will be very helpful to me. I feel encouraged. Both the content and presentation of this program were so well-thought out that I can’t think of any way to improve it.” — Andrea Gollin, writer & editor, Miami, FL
“I utilize the LFY techniques in both a class room setting and one-on-one environment. The skills have infused my teachings with compassion, mindfulness, and awareness.” — Kat Larsen, CYT, LFYP
“I have been reminded that I am not on this path alone, that others are sharing the journey that sometimes seems so difficult. I have also been reminded of the importance of daily practice and I will do that. The whole program has been an incredible experience for me. Thank you!” — Lorraine Plauth, retired teacher, Voorheesville, NY
“I learned lots of ways to reduce the anxiety and depression of my patients and myself.” – Aviva Sinvany-Nubel, PhD, APN, CNSC, RN, psychotherapist, Bridgewater, N.J.
“I integrate strategies like mantra tones and pranayama, but above all I invite myself and those I teach to cultivate svadhyaya, to practice self-observation without judgment.” — Barbara Sherman, RYT 200, LFYP, Tucson, AZ
“This workshop has changed so much — my self-image and my life. My own heart’s desire is 100% clear. I gained tools to help myself and others to live life fully.” — Marcia Siegel, Yoga teacher, therapist, Carlsbad, CA.
“I feel profoundly transformed, both physically and emotionally. The connection between mind, body and spirit was clearly evident to me, but revealed to me through this workshop as an integrally vital link to overall health.” — Nadine Richardson, program manager at rehab agency, Monroe, CT
“My life is already changed! I will use the tools I learned in my own practice and in my work. I feel safe and seen.” — Susan Andrea Weiner, MA, teacher/expressive arts facilitator, El Cerrito, CA.
“Yoga Skills for Therapists is the ideal resource for those who want to bring yoga practices into psychotherapy or healthcare. Weintraub, a leader in the field of yoga therapy, offers evidence-based, easy-to-introduce strategies for managing anxiety, improving mood, and relieving suffering. Helpful clinical insights and case examples emphasize safety, trust, and skillful adaptation to the individual, making it easy to apply the wisdom of yoga effectively in the therapeutic context.” — Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author, Yoga for Pain Relief, Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Yoga Therapy
“I have gained a softer heart, more receptive mind, and tools to enrich both personal and professional aspects of my life.” – Regina Trailweaver, LICSW, clinical social worker, Hancock, VT.
“I gained tools for working with my own depression and with my clients’ depressions.” — Robert Sgona, LCSW, RYT, psychotherapist, Yoga teacher, Camden, ME.
“I began a fantasy during the meditation exercise... almost as if I’d been there. It’s now an on-going work of fiction.” — Serian Strauss, Tanzania
“I have found the pranayama (breathing practices) especially easy to introduce in a clinical setting. Some people have benefited quickly in unexpected and transformative ways.” — Liz Brenner, LICSW, LFYP, Watertown, MA
“My personal practice will change, as well as my yoga classes. I have a better understanding of yoga!” — Andrea Gattuso, RYT, Yoga Teacher, Hackettstown, N.J.
“A client who returned said, "When I came before, you helped me understand and get where I wanted to go. Now you show me yoga practices I use to help myself understand and get where I want to go.” — Sherry Rubin, LCSW, BCD, LFYP, Downingtown, PA
“I gained perspective of who I am in the world and this will change my life significantly.” — Mary Ford, artist, Southport, CT
I absolutely love this stuff! I have been using it with my clients and I am just finding it to be so incredibly helpful. There seriously something for everything. Although I am not as skilled as I hope to be someday, even at my level of training I’m finding that I am beginning to figure out what to do. It just blows my mind! - Christine Brudnicki, MS, LPC
“My patients can now have the same effects as many medications without having to actually take medication!” — Deborah Lubetkin, PSY.D, LFYP, West Caldwell, NJ
“This workshop helped me rededicate my energies and begin to work through some of the blocks I’ve felt creatively.” — Steve Mark, college professor, New Haven, CT
“I have gained an incredible opening and clearing of old obstructions. I hope to return to my life and fill this opening with things I love to do and that give me joy!” — Lisa Shine, administrative assistant, Ballston Lake, NY
“This program changed my life in a significant way. It helped me connect with the spirit which is something you can’t get from psychotherapy and medication.” – G. W., artist, Pittsburgh, PA
“Giving my clients a strategy and permission to quiet their minds and rebalance the sympathetic nervous system has been very beneficial to them and in our work together.” — Sue Dilsworth, PhD, RYT 200, LFYP, Allendale, MI
Scroll to Top