(Anuloma Viloma)

Although we may not be aware of it, we normally breathe in one- to two-hour cycles; first one nostril, then the other is dominant. (If you’re curious, check which nostril is dominant by closing off one nostril and breathing through the other; reverse, and compare the airflow from each.) Prolonged breathing through one side can drain our energy. Anuloma Viloma, an ancient breathing technique, has a profound stilling effect on the mind and restores the proper balance to our breathing pattern, which equalizes the energies and pathways of the nervous system. Placing your index and middle fingers on your forehead stimulates the “third eye,” our center of intuition and connection to the higher self. Practice Alternate Nostril Breath whenever you seek a calm, clear state of mind.

• Before you begin, you may wish to use a tissue to clear your nostrils. Sit comfortably in a chair or on a mat, keeping your spine straight.

• Place the index and middle fingers of your right hand on your forehead, between the eyebrows. Your thumb rests on the right nostril; the ring and baby fingers rest on your left nostril. If you prefer not to place your fingers on the forehead, curl the index and middle fingers toward the palm instead.

• Inhale and exhale. Close the right nostril with the thumb; inhale through the left nostril for a count of 5.

• Close both nostrils; hold your breath for a count of 5. (If holding the breath causes discomfort, reduce the count or eliminate altogether.)

• Lift the thumb; exhale for a count of 5 through the right nostril.

• Inhale through the right nostril for a count of 5, hold for a count of 5, close your right nostril, and exhale through the left nostril for a count of 5. This completes 1 round.

• Repeat for 4 more rounds.