We use cookies to provide and improve our services. By using our site, you consent to cookies.

Cookie Image

Alternate Nostril Breathing: Use This Pranayama Technique For Stress Relief

Alternate Nostril Breathing (traditionally referred to as Nadi Sodhana Pranayama) is one of the best forms of pranayama you can practice for stress relief. Pranayama can be defined as conscious breathwork.

“Prana” means life force energy, and “yama” means vehicle or control.

Another main appeal of Alternate Nostril Breathing is how user-friendly it is.

Many traditional yogic pranayamas (breath control techniques) can be tricky, involving the practice of slowing and/or holding the breath at certain intervals, or mastering certain postures or locks to perform them properly.

But Nadi Sodhana can be performed quite easily by anyone, and the benefits of practicing it are vast.

Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing:


  • Reduce stress and anxiety as it calms and centers the mind
  • Balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, leading to an intertwining of logical thinking with intuition
  • Regulate the temperature of the body
  • Improve and regulate both the cardiovascular and the respiratory systems
  • Heal and purify the nervous system
  • Purify the lungs and sinuses
  • Put the mind into a perfect state for meditation
  • Boost energy levels
  • Improve sleep
  • Balance the Ida and Pingala, the solar and lunar channels of the astral body, enabling a full expression of the flow of prana through the entire energy system (this is a necessary prerequisite to many more advanced forms of yoga as well)
  • Oxygenate the blood
  • Balance the appetite


How to Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing:

Alternate Nostril Breathing can be taught in many different ways, and with several different variations. I will share the way I practice and teach.

(I am not by any means saying that my way is better than any others, and I encourage you to pick a form of practice that resonates most with you, and/or to consult your teacher if you have one.)

Step 1: Sit in a comfortable posture with your spine straight and your body relaxed.

Step 2: Place your left hand in the wisdom gesture (Gnana Mudra) by lightly touching the tip of your index finger to the middle of your thumb, and rest it on top of your left knee.

Interested in learning more about Mudras? Check out Common Mudras, Their Meaning, and How to Practice Them
Step 3: With your right hand, perform Shiva Mudra by folding your middle and index fingers firmly into your palm, allowing your thumb to naturally extend out of the palm, and letting your last two fingers relax and gently curl inwards alongside the other two fingers.

You will be using your thumb to block the right nostril, and the first knuckle of your ring finger to block the left nostril.

Step 4: Block the right nostril with your thumb and inhale fully and evenly through the left nostril. As you begin to breathe, close your eyes and gently gaze towards the third eye between the eyebrows.

Step 5: Without pausing, block the left nostril with the knuckle of your ring finger, and exhale fully and evenly out of the right nostril.

Step 6: Again without pause, inhale fully and evenly through the right nostril, and out through the left. This makes one round total.

Step 7: Repeat to complete the desired amount of rounds.
If you need a little more guidance on how to practice, watch this video of Alternate Nostril Breathing and follow along!


Precautions and Recommendations for Nadi Sodhana Pranayama

It is generally recommended that if you are new to the practice, to start out with only three rounds at a time, then move to six rounds in a week, and up to nine rounds in another week.

It is also recommended that you not practice if there is any undue strain or tension involved. However, if you do notice slight congestion in one of the nostrils, breathe gently and evenly and you may find that the technique itself clears the blockage.

Find Stress Relief With Alternate Nostril Breathing

Again, there are many more advanced forms of practice for this particular technique, but this more basic form is quite powerful and pleasurable.

The benefits of stress relief, reduced anxiety, and all the other positive results from a steady practice of Nadi Sodhana Pranayama are well worth the effort of learning this simple yet effective breathing exercise. Enjoy!

This article has been read 6K+ times. Feelin’ the love!


wonderful comments!

These 10 Poses Can Help Relieve Stress
Did you know that you can use yoga to relieve stress? There are certain poses in particular that can reduce stress now - learn them here!
Read »

Ashton Aiden

Ashton is a life coach and the founder of BrainWaveLove, an embodiment of his desire to help people find practical, effective ways for manifesting their dreams, and experiencing success in all realms of life. You can download Ashton's free Ebook, Missing Keys To The Art Of Manifestation on his blog.

Mind, body & life wellness in your inbox.

Get the
YA Classes App

No WiFi? No Problem! Download
classes and take them without an
internet connection.

Download YA Classes app on the Apple App Store
Download YA Classes app on the Google Play Store

Also available in Apple TV , Mac and Amazon apps.

Send this to a friend
Follow us on Close

Create Your FREE Account

Woohoo! You’re about to unlock unlimited articles, exclusive
community content, and select on-demand yoga and fitness classes.


Lost password?