Monday, June 25, 2012

Just Breathe

Just Breathe Sign (c) Kristen Bangs from SpunkyFluff

UPDATE: Kristen Bags, creative genius behind SpunkyFluff is graciously offering 20% off your purchase in her Etsy shop with coupon code ANANDA! How cool is that!!

THANK YOU: to Tom Meyers for pointing out an error in my post. I inadvertently transposed the left and right brain function in the text below. Thanks to Tom I was able to correct my error and provide the correct information below (noted in green). Thanks, Tom! 

Did you know that we only breathe through one nostril at a time? Humans actually breathe in a pattern known as the 'nasal cycle' as first recognized by German nose specialist, Richard Kayser in 1895. In this pattern our body switches from breathing predominantly through the right nostril and left nostril about every 90 minutes.

Even more interesting is that the pattern of switching from breathing from one nostril to the other effects whether we feel creative or analytically, among other things.

Here's why: Our brain cycles between hemispheres along with our breathing. When we breathe through our left nostril the right side of the brain is active and vice versa. It stands to reason that when the right side of our brain is engaged we will be more creative and when the left side is engaged we will be more analytically.

In Pranayama, Sanskrit for 'vital breath' it is believed that you can alter your creativity and mood by changing your breathing pattern to engage the applicable side of the brain. Considering the right nostril = left, logical hemisphere and the left nostril = right, creative hemisphere it does stand to reason that breathing through your right nostril may help enhance logical thought while breathing through your left nostril may increase creativity.

Scientific studies confirm what yogis have known for centuries, alternate nostril breathing balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain and the body. A 1988 study found right nostril breathing can raise blood glucose levels while left nostril breathing can lower them and a 1994 study found that alternate nostril breathing has a balancing effect on the functional activity of the two hemispheres of the brain.

In yoga, the right side of the body is considered to be of masculine nature, endowed with fire while the left side of the body is considered feminine and endowed with cool energy. Nadi Sodhana, Sanskrit for alternate nostril breathing, is used to balance the energy in the body. It's a simple exercise when practiced 2-3 times per day can balance your energy and change your life.

Begin by sitting in a comfortable position. You do not have to sit in a lotus position, on the floor or with knees bent. The important thing is to be comfortable as you sit.

You will be using your thumb and ring finger of your right hand to open and close your nostrils in an alternate fashion.

The exact position of your fingers isn't critical but using your thumb and ring finger will easily seal your nostrils.


When first starting, practice 5 repetitions of breathing 2-3 times per day. Work your way up to 20 repetitions and you will experience more balanced energy that will carry into all aspects of your life.