Updated: Sep 20
What is Anuloma Viloma?
Anuloma Viloma (Sanskrit: अनुलोम विलोम anuloma viloma), also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing, is a Pranayama technique. It involves the conscious regulation of breath through the nostrils, creating a balance in the flow of energy in the body.
Effects of Anuloma Viloma Practice
1. Balancing the Nervous System:
By practicing Anuloma Viloma, you engage in slow, deep breathing, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest, relaxation, and digestion.
This activates the relaxation response, our rest and digest mode. The activity of the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the fight-or-flight response) is reduced and we feel calm and can regenerate.
2. Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Slow inhalations and exhalations during Anuloma Viloma help promoting a state of relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety.
Controlled breathing activates the Vagus nerve, which stimulates the relaxation response and decreases the production of stress hormones.
3. Improving Respiratory Function
Anuloma Viloma involves slow, deep breaths through alternate nostrils, expanding the lung capacity and improving respiratory function.
It helps to clear the nasal passages, enhancing the flow of air and removing blocks in the Nadi System.
4. Enhancing Focus and Concentration:
Performance of Anuloma Viloma encourages a balanced flow of energy between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
This balance promotes mental clarity, enhances focus, and improves concentration. The cantering effect prevails long after the practice.
5. Cleansing and Purifying the Nadis:
Anuloma Viloma is one of the powerful techniques called Nadi Shodanam, which means Nadi Cleaning. The practice purifies the subtle energy channels (Nadis) in the body, allowing the Prana to move without hindrances.
It helps to remove blockages (physical, chemical, emotional, mental) and prepares our system to take in more Prana.
How to perform Anuloma Viloma?
Find a comfortable seated position: Sit on the floor or on a chair with your spine upright. Find the guidelines for your right sitting position here.
A stable and slow diaphragmatic breathing pattern has to be established prior to performing Anuloma Viloma. Please find guided practice to train your abdominal breathing here.
Hand position: Both hands perform the Vishnu Mudra to enhance the effects of the practice. The right hand is up on the face while your left hand rests on the palm facing down.
How long and how often you should practice Anuloma Viloma depends on your personal situation and constitution. The duration and frequency can be increased over time and with the experienced guidance of a teacher.
Variations: there are 3 main variations in performing Anuloma Viloma. Which one is most suitable for you depends on your capacity and your goals.
Learn at the Yoga Science Academy
If you wish to explore more about the power of Anuloma Viloma and the applications, please reach out or visit our Trainings online, or courses in Nepal, and in Europe. For specific applications and needs you can make a counseling appointment and find your personalized holistic Yogic practice. With a comprehensive curriculum, our courses cater to all levels of experience to gain practical skills and confidence through hands-on training, preparing you to share yoga's benefits with others.
Precautions for Anuloma Viloma
Posture: Ensure that you maintain an upright and comfortable posture during Anuloma Viloma. Whether sitting on the floor or in a chair, keep your spine straight, shoulders relaxed, and body well-supported. This helps with proper breath flow and prevents strain or discomfort.
Establish diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing with awareness makes the breath deeper and slower. If you divert the breath towards the chest, you may cause adverse and even opposite effects as when you breathe as it is advised. Make sure that you breathing pattern is stable, slow, deep and without sound or pauses before you start with Anuloma Viloma. Find the FREE GUIDANCE to train your breath here
Nasal Passage Blockages: If you have a severe nasal blockage or congestion due to allergies, sinusitis, or other conditions, it's advisable to avoid forceful breathing through the nostrils during Anuloma Viloma as this can injure the fine Nadis in the nose. Nostril cleaning beforehand is imperative, whether you use Jala Neti (cleaning with water) or Sutra Neti (cleaning with a thread), you have to make the nasal passage free before you can start. Nostril cleaning is a common start into a yogic day, as breathing freely and without any noise is substantial most of the auspicious practices.
Stable position: In Anuloma Viloma it often happens that you start to tilt to your right side, lift up the shoulders or let the chin hang down. Any change in your spine is a hindrance for the energy to flow freely and has to be adjusted. Make sure to practice with a teacher who will correct your position when needed until you get used to feel when your position is right.
Gradual Progression: If you are new to Anuloma Viloma, start with shorter durations and gradually increase the practice over time. Pushing yourself too hard or overdoing the practice may cause strain or discomfort. Nadi Shodanam is simple yet a very powerful technique. Overdoing it will cause stronger cleaning events and faster reharmonization of the brain hemispheres. This can cause milder or stronger disturbances in body and mind. Give yourself enough time to undergo the transformation and increase the practice slowly.
Gentle Breathing: Maintain a smooth and gentle breath throughout the practice. Avoid forceful or excessive inhalations and exhalations. The breathing speed can decline over the time of practice as the relaxation helps you to need less oxygen. Adapt you breathing speed to your inner state and allow the intensity to decline.
If you have any specific health concerns, respiratory conditions, or if you are pregnant, it's always advisable to consult with a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional before practicing Anuloma Viloma. They can provide personalized guidance and adapt the practice to your needs.
Remember, the practice of Anuloma Viloma should be approached with patience, awareness, and respect for your own body. If at any point you feel unwell or experience any discomfort, it's important to discontinue the practice and seek appropriate guidance.
Mudra for Anuolma Viloma - Vishnu Mudra
Vishnu Mudra is formed by curling the index and middle fingers of your right hand towards your palm, while keeping your thumb, ring finger, and little finger extended. The alternation is performed with the thumb and the ring finger.
This mudra represents Lord Vishnu, a Hindu God associated with preservation, balance, and harmony.
Vishnu Mudra activates the lunar energy (Ida Nadi) in the body, which is associated with a calming, cooling, and nurturing energy.