As published in the Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, Jan 2010 issue- a case study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of Anulom vilom pranayam for brain functioning. A total of 30 males in the age range 60 to 70 years were administered to practice anulom vilom pranayam for 3 months. After this duration, there was a significant drop in anxiety and depression level for each of the participants.
Under stress, the whole physiology of the human body is influenced negatively. Your thoughts become negative, your pulse (heartbeat) rate escalates and you act in a hurry. A breathing technique like anulom vilom pranayam can really help here by promoting a positive body-mind relationship. It calms your mind, lowers the pulse rate and help you behave in a relaxed manner.
Another case study published in the International Journal of Current Research and Review, Volume 4, 2012 concludes that just after 12 cycles of anulom vilom pranayam, the subjects (people who participated in the case study) felt peace and calmness. Their pulse rate reduces significantly as well.
Anulom vilom pranayam is a natural brain tonic.
Let us know Anulom Vilom Pranayam
Anulom vilom pranayam is a Sanskrit term.
Anulom means moving with the flow– to breathe in.
Vilom means moving against the flow– to breathe out.
Pranayam means controlled breathing.
In short, anulom vilom pranayam involves breathing in from one nostril while the second one is closed. And, then, breathing out from the second nostril while the first one is closed.
It is also known as the alternate nostril breathing because only one nostril is functioning at a time.
During breathing in, fresh oxygen enters through your nostril to oxygenate your blood which would circulate throughout the body to improve the functioning of all inner body organs.
During breathing out, carbon dioxide and other body toxins are thrown out of your body to encourage body detoxification.
When you perform anulom vilom pranayam, you breathe in and out in quick successions- a lot of fresh oxygen and positive energy enters your body and at the same time, body toxins and negativity go out to recharge your body and mind.
How to do Anulom Vilom Pranayam
- Sit on a yoga mat/blanket in Sukhasana (easy, cross legged position). If you are comfortable in vajrasana (the thunderbolt pose), then it would be even better because vajrasana aids in digestion and boost the body metabolism.
Read more: Vajrasana after meals for digestion
- If you are unable to fold your legs due to joint pain, then sit on a chair.
- Close your eyes, keep the spine straight and focus on the breathing.
- Close the right nostril with the right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Inhale slowly and deeply till your lungs are filled with air.
- Now close the left nostril with the ring and middle fingers of your right hand and exhale through the right nostril by releasing the thumb.
- Then reverse it- inhale deeply through right nostril while left nostril is closed and then, exhale through left nostril while the right one is closed.
- This is one round of anulom vilom pranayam.
- Practice 5 to 10 rounds in one go, then take a break and start again.
- Practice this pranayam as long as you wish- 5 minutes, 10 minutes or even more as per your comfort. Never overdo.
Video tutorial link (in English)- Click here
Video tutorial link (in Hindi)- Click here
Points to remember
- Make sure that your spine is straight throughout the pranayam.
- There is no fixed standard for inhalation and exhalation time duration. It depends on the age, stamina and lung capacity. Generally, people take 3 to 4 seconds for inhalation and same for exhalation.
- Gradually with regular practice, the exhalation time would increase- as much as twice than the inhalation time. For example, 3 seconds for inhalation and 6 seconds for exhalation.
- Never force anything and do it in a slow, rhythmic manner. If you feel short of breath during the pranayam, it means that either you are doing too quickly or putting a lot of pressure. That’s not desirable.
When to do
The best time to practice anulom vilom pranayam is early morning, preferably before the sunrise. Perform pranayam on an empty stomach after the bowel movements. Either go to the nearby park or choose a well ventilated place in your home with an abundance of fresh air.
You can practice in the evening also with a gap of around 4 hours between pranayam and meals.
For chronic problems, practice twice a day- in the morning as well as in the evening.
Anulom Vilom Pranayam for Brain
The human brain is divided in two hemispheres- equal in shape and size.
- The right hemisphere governs the left side of your body. It is the artistic and creative side of the body.
- The left hemisphere governs the right side of the body. It is the logical and intellectual side of your brain.
When you inhale through the left nostril, it activates the ida nadi which in turn stimulates the right part of your brain. Similarly, when you inhale from the right nostril, the pingala nadi and left part of your brain gets stimulated.
In short, anulom vilom pranayam regulates both sides of your brain to bring an equilibrium. Such a balanced state of mind would definitely bring peace, calmness and relaxation in your life.
By balancing the left side of the brain, it sharpens the logical skills and intellect and at the same time, by balancing the right side of the brain, it makes you more creative also. A Perfect yoga for the students 🙂
Read more: Bhramari Pranayam is a Stress Buster
Anulom Vilom Pranayam takes you into deep meditation
Balancing of Ida and Pingala nadis results in the awakening of sushumna nadi, also known as the spiritual nadi. Awakening of sushumna nadi takes you to the inner journey of self realization by facilitating deep meditation. In simple terms, practicing anulom vilom pranayam before meditation would help in going deeper into your meditation experience.
Your real life begins only when the life energy enters the sushumna nadi- Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of the Isha Foundation
- Anulom vilom is a safe and effective pranayam for people of all ages.
- Some people prefer to hold the breath in between inhalation and exhalation for a few seconds to enhance the healing effect. This process is known as kumbhaka. For normal healthy people, holding breath is pretty fine. But, if you are dealing with chronic heart or lung disorders, never hold breath in between as it can worsen your condition.
- For below health conditions, pranayam should be practiced under the guidance of a yoga teacher:
- Women during pregnancy and menstrual cycles
- People with high blood pressure and other heart problems
- Any recent surgery or injury
- Chronic illness
Read more: Anulom Vilom Pranayam for Skin care
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