alternate nostril breathing ayurveda

Throughout the fall, we’re sharing a series of sage insights from the pages of Pratima founder, Pratima Raichur’s new book Absolute Beauty: Radiant Skin and Inner Harmony Through the Ancient Secrets of Ayurveda. We’ve featured Pratima’s ayurvedic massage technique that makes sit-ups a thing of the past. Now, we’re delving into another obscure healing method – alternate nostril breathing! Strange as it may sound, this technique is excellent for relieving dry skin conditions and soothing anxiety and fear!

TIPS FOR ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING: Do not hold the breath. Simply have the intention to breathe normally at all times. Do not force the breath, but gently push the air in and out so that a dry leaf held directly in front of the nose would not move whether you are inhaling or exhaling. Do not breathe to any particular count, but let each breath be as long as it needs to be without forcing. The torso will pulsate slowly and gently with your breath. Otherwise, the body should be still, as the breath finds its own easy, natural rhythm.

The left nostril (right brain) breathing cools excess fire and calms anger and frustration with its lunar energy. It is good for sensitive skin types, Pitta conditions, or simply to cool down the physiology on a hot day. Right nostril (left brain) breathing, on the other hand, stimulates the mind with its solar energy and warms up the body on a cold day. Alternate nostril breathing relieves Vata conditions such as stress, worry, and fear.

Do nine full breaths. (One full breath is in right, out left, then in left, out right.)


Sit up straight with your eyes closed.

Step 1

Using the right hand, close off the left nostril with your ring finger.

Step 2

Slowly inhale through the right nostril, gently expanding the abdomen and then the lungs.

Step 3

Release the left nostril, and with your thumb, close off the right.

Step 4

Slowly exhale through the left nostril as you release the lungs and then the abdomen.

Step 5

Reverse the procedure, inhaling on the left nostril and exhaling on the right.

Do nine full breaths. (One full breath is in right, out left, then in left, out right.)

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