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Alternate Nostril Breathing: A Comprehensive Guide to Practice and Benefits

Imagine being able to reduce stress, improve sleep, boost cognitive function, and even strengthen your immune system, all with a simple breathing technique. Alternate nostril breathing, an ancient Yogic practice, offers these multifaceted benefits and more.

How To Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing

Mastering alternate nostril breathing is surprisingly straightforward. Follow these steps:

  1. Assume a comfortable seated position: Sit with your spine erect and shoulders relaxed.

  2. Bring your right thumb to your right nostril: Gently press your thumb over your right nostril to close it.

  3. Inhale through your left nostril: Inhale deeply and slowly through your left nostril, allowing your belly to expand.

  4. Close your left nostril: Once your inhalation is complete, use your ring finger to gently close your left nostril.

  5. Exhale through your right nostril: Slowly exhale through your right nostril.

  6. Inhale through your right nostril: Now, inhale through your right nostril while keeping your left nostril closed.

  7. Close your right nostril: After inhaling, use your thumb to close your right nostril.

  8. Exhale through your left nostril: Exhale slowly and completely through your left nostril.

  9. Repeat: Continue alternating nostrils, inhaling through one nostril and exhaling through the other, for several minutes or as desired.

Timing and Duration

Beginners can start with 5-10 minutes of alternate nostril breathing daily. Gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable. Some practitioners recommend matching the inhalation and exhalation duration for optimal benefits. For instance, inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 4 seconds.

Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing

This deceptively simple breathing technique packs a punch of benefits, including:

  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety: By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, alternate nostril breathing promotes relaxation and alleviates stress.

  • Improved Sleep: The calming effect of this practice aids in reducing sleep disturbances and promoting restful nights.

  • Enhanced Cognitive Function: Increased oxygenation to the brain improves cognitive abilities, including memory, concentration, and alertness.

  • Boosted Immune System: Regular practice strengthens the immune system by reducing stress and oxidative damage.

  • Hormonal Balance: Alternate nostril breathing helps regulate hormone production, improving overall well-being and reducing hot flashes in menopausal women.

  • Headache Relief: The relaxing effects of this practice can alleviate tension headaches and migraines.

  • Improved Nasal Function: By clearing the nasal passages, alternate nostril breathing promotes better breathing and reduces congestion.


While generally safe, alternate nostril breathing may not be suitable for everyone. Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease, should consult a healthcare professional before practicing this technique.


Alternate nostril breathing is an accessible and effective practice that offers numerous health benefits. By incorporating this simple technique into your daily routine, you can reap the rewards of reduced stress, improved sleep, enhanced cognitive function, and a stronger immune system. As you delve deeper into the practice, you may discover additional benefits that align with your unique needs. Embrace the transformative power of alternate nostril breathing and unlock a world of well-being.

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