Alternate nostril breathing is a practice I've only come across three times in my entire 33 years on this planet. The first time was in a yoga class; the second was during episode five of Queer Eye when Jonathan Van Ness takes the viewers through a quick ANB routine. The most recent was when I asked Becca Teers, author, therapist, speaker and trainer (Healthy-Habits.me), to share some stress-busting tips. Lo and behold, her first piece of advice was alternate nostril breathing. Thankfully for anyone who didn't binge-watch Queer Eye (are there any of you there?) and thus has no idea what I'm harping on about, here's a rundown on the benefits of alternate nostril breathing and how to do it at home.
So, what are the benefits of alternate nostril breathing?
According to Teers, there are multiple benefits of doing alternate nostril breathing:
• Improves our ability to focus the mind
• Supports our lungs and respiratory functions
• Restores balance in the left and right hemispheres of the brain and clears the energetic channels
• Rejuvenates the nervous system
• Removes toxins
• Settles stress
But one of the key benefits is restoring balance and ease in the mind and body. "Sometimes when we feel frazzled or find ourselves doing too many things at once, it's because energetically, we are out of alignment. This breath is great for restoring that necessary balance," says Teers.
"Whether you're nervous about a project or presentation, anxious about a conversation, or just generally stressed out, this is a quick and calming way to bring you back to your centre. If you meditate and find it difficult to settle into your meditations, try using this tool for a few minutes first. Next time you find yourself doing too many things at once or you sense anxiety beginning to rise, move through a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing. It's a great way to hit the reset button for your mental state," she adds.
Okay, so how do you do alternate nostril breathing?
Here, Teers shares a 10-part guide to alternate nostril breathing:
1. Sit comfortably, making sure your spine is straight and your heart/chest is open, with shoulders down and relaxed.
2. Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right hand just in front of your face.
3. With your right hand, bring your pointer finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows, lightly using them as an anchor. The fingers we'll be actively using are the thumb and ring finger.
4. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose.
5. Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly to count of 5.
6. Close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are held closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale for a count of 5.
7. Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side to the count of 5. Pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale.
8. Inhale through the right side to the count of 5.
9. Hold both nostrils closed (with ring finger and thumb) for a count of 5. Open your left nostril and release breath to the count of 5 through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.
10. Then start the process again repeating steps 5 through 9. (Repeat 5 to 10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow your inhales and exhales.)
If you have time, use some incense in the room to help you get in the mood for relaxation:
Next time you're feeling frazzled, give alternate nostril breathing a try. If JVN is here for it, then so are we.