As the name suggests, alternate-nostril breathing is the focused practice of breathing through alternate nostrils, one side at a time. If you want to try alternate-nostril breathing, here’s what to do:
* Sit quietly somewhere you don’t need to give any tasks your full attention.
* Bring your right hand up to your nose and move your forefinger and middle finger out of the way. Place your thumb on your right nostril.
* With this nostril covered, close your eyes and exhale fully and slowly through your left nostril.
* Once you’ve exhaled completely, release your right nostril and put your ring finger on the left nostril.
* Breathe in deeply and slowly from the right side. Make sure your breath is smooth and continuous.
* Once you’ve inhaled completely, exhale through your right nostril.
* Release your ring finger and close your right nostril with your thumb again. Breathe in fully and exhale fully from your left nostril.
* Repeat the full process two or more times.
You can practice this breathing technique for a short time. Research shows that practicing for 10 minutes brings the most benefits.
Don’t do it while you’re driving, operating machinery, or doing anything else that needs focused attention.
* It regulates the nervous system.
* It lowers blood pressure.
* It improves breathing.
* It lowers fear and anxiety.
Your breath should be easy, gentle, and slow as you practice alternate-nostril breathing. Don’t force your breath or breathe fast.
If you have any of these symptoms, stop the breathing practice and see a doctor:
* Shortness of breath
* Chest pain
Most people can practice alternate-nostril breathing comfortably at home. If you have a health condition, talk to your doctor or a respiratory therapist before starting this practice.