Try This to Relax and Focus

What nostril are you breathing out of? A few posts ago we discussed the effects the left and right nostril have on your nervous system. We showed that the right nostril is tied to a more stressed state while the left a more relaxed one.

But what if we just want to be more balanced? That’s where alternate nasal breathing comes in. For years yoga has used this practice, nadi shodhana pranayama, to balance energy pathways. This intuition has been shown to have credible backing after our last post and from studies done on this style of breathing.

Breathing back and forth through your nostrils has proven to lower stress and many of the measurements that go with it. This practice can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and your breathing rate. Breathing in this manner will not simply make you fall asleep though. At the same time it calms you the practice can greatly improve memory and focus.

The ability to relax while also heightening your cognitive abilities has many uses. In many situations where you need to be extremely focused and mentally sharp you are also nervous and stressed. Try practicing alternate nasal breathing just before events like competitions, tests, or interviews. You will find you can perform your best while remaining calm and confident.

The Practice

  1. Begin in a relaxed seated position
  2. In traditional yoga you would use your ring finger and thumb for blocking each nostril
    • You can either place your fore and middle fingers in your palm or let them rest on your forehead to anchor your hand
    • If using you forefinger and hand is more comfortable, this will work as well
  3. Take a normal inhale and exhale through your nose to begin
  4. Close your right nostril and slowly inhale taking :03 to :06 seconds
  5. Open your right nostril and close the left nostril
  6. Slowly exhale through the right nostril relaxing your body as you do so
  7. Keeping the left side closed, Inhale through the right side slowly.
  8. Open your left nostril and and close the right nostril
  9. Slowly exhale through the left nostril relaxing your body as you do so
  10. Repeat for about 5 cycles, try to focus only on the sensation and rhythm of the breathing
  11. If you wish to continue after 5 cycles you can switch to a new pattern, breathing in and out on the same side, then switching

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