Calming the Mind & Body with Alternate Nasal Breathing

Aug 31

by Dr. Brian LoTempio

Did you know? The airflow through our nose alternates dominance between nostrils depending on the time of day. Each nasal cycle lasts for about 25 minutes-4 hours, and is powered by our autonomic nervous system. The presence of sympathetic (our Fight and Flight states) and parasympathetic (our Rest and Digest states) nerves in our nose creates periods of congestion and decongestion of our nasal passageway.

Right Nostril = Sympathetic NS (think gas pedal)
Left Nostril = Parasympathetic NS (think brake)

Alternate nostril breathing can impact our mood, immune response, cognitive abilities, blood pressure, heart rate, and much more. Plus, we are in the driver’s seat and can consciously tap into these benefits. By actively closing our right nostril, breathing exclusively through our left, we can hit the brakes and pause our fast-paced life for a brief period to allow ourselves to rest and reset.

“Breathing through alternate nostrils showed effects on brain hemisphere symmetry on EEG topography”. (Kumaran 2017)

Nadi Shodhana: An ancient yoga practice of tapping into the body’s internal energy field with forced breathing through one nostril at a time. In Sanskrit nadi means “channel” and shodhana means “purification”.

Control your state by controlling your breath!

Simple Practice:
Find a comfortable position and bring awareness to your breath
5-minutes of alternate nostril breathing
Reassess how you feel, and REPEAT when needed!

Want to learn more, check out the article below:
Kumaran, E. M. Alteration in Nasal Cycle Rhythm as an Index of the Diseased Condition, Pathophysiology – Altered Physiological States. December, 2017. DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.70599.

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