Anulom Vilom Pranayama, also known as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama or alternate nostril breathing exercise, is one of the main practices of Yoga. It is not just a breathing practice but a Yogic technique to bring mental calm, peace and tranquillity in life. However, the benefits of Anulom Vilom Pranayama are not limited to the realms of Yoga. Even Ayurveda supports the practice of Anulom Vilom every day to maintain your physical and mental health.
Ayurveda’s Perspective on Anulom Vilom Pranayama
According to Ayurveda, Anulom Vilom Pranayama is an excellent exercise to reduce stress and balance the three Doshas in the body, viz Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It helps to flush out the toxins or Ama from the body, which is the main objective of Ayurveda.
Anulom Vilom Pranayam is known to improve the flow of Prana and balance the energies flowing through Ida and Pingala Nadis in the body. It helps to eliminate toxins and free radicals from these Nadis and stimulate the central channel called Sushumna Nadi, which in turn restores the balance between the two hemispheres of the brain.
Benefits of Anulom Vilom Pranayama According to Ayurveda
- Balances the Mind:
Anulom Vilom Pranayama helps to improve the functioning of the two hemispheres of your brain and restore the balance between them while also enhancing your cognitive skills.
- Aids in Weight Loss:
Anulom Vilom Pranayama is known to reduce the levels of cortisol, a stress-induced hormone that can cause weight gain and obesity in the body. It also helps curb the cravings for high-fat comfort foods and prevent weight gain.
- Relieves Stress:
Practising Anulom Vilom every day can positively impact your mental health and reduce stress. It also helps to relieve anxiety and depression.
- Improves Eye Health:
Anulom Vilom Pranayama helps to boost the blood circulation in the optic nerve and enhance their functioning, thereby improving overall eye health.
- Augments Skin Health:
Regular practice of Anulom Vilom can also prevent stress-related skin disorders such as premature greying, acne, atopic dermatitis, etc.
- Boosts Digestion:
Anulom Vilom Pranayama involves intense breathing practice that helps to boost digestion and prevent stomach infections, constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.
- Reduces Chronic Sinusitis:
Anulom Vilom Pranayama also helps to improve the flow of oxygen in the lungs, thereby clearing blockages within the sinuses in the skull and relieving chronic sinusitis.
- Fights Respiratory Disorders:
Anulom Vilom is known as one of the best practices to strengthen the lungs and maintain respiratory health. It helps prevent many respiratory disorders such as coughing, wheezing, asthma, dyspnoea, etc.
- Improves Concentration:
Regular practice of Anulom Vilom can help boost the functioning of the nervous system and maintain mental health, thereby improving concentration and memory strength in individuals.
How to do Anulom Vilom Pranayama?
Anulom Vilom Pranayama involves three steps: Puraka (inhalation), Kumbhaka (retention) and Rechaka (exhalation). As a beginner, you may skip the retention or Kumbhaka step. However, after some time, you should try to hold your breath between inhalation and exhalation.
The steps to practice this Pranayama are:
- Sit in a meditative posture with your back straight. Padmasana, Vajrasana and Siddhasana are considered the best Yoga Asanas to practice Anulom Vilom Pranayama.
- Next, close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale slowly through the left nostril for about 2 seconds.
- Then, hold your breath as you release the thumb and close the left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand.
- Next, exhale the air through the right nostril and gradually inhale the air again through the same nostril.
- Then, release the left nostril and close the right nostril with your right thumb again. Gradually exhale the air from your left nostril this time.
- It marks the end of the first cycle of Anulom Vilom Pranayama. You may repeat this process 5-20 times, depending on your ability. The duration of inhalation and exhalation can also increase from 2 seconds to 20 seconds with time and practice.
Precautions and Contraindications of Anulom Vilom Pranayama:
Anulom Vilom Pranayama is safe and healthy for everyone. However, people suffering from heart ailments should avoid doing this exercise unless advised by the doctor.
Anulom Vilom Pranayama is one of the best Yoga practises to inculcate in your exercise routine. Regular practice of Anulom Vilom can yield many health benefits to the body and mind. It can reduce stress, relieve respiratory problems, improve digestion and boost the overall health of the body and mind.