Alternate-nostril breathing is a great precursor to meditation, as it sharpens your senses, helps you focus more intently, energizes you and in many cases helps to unclog your nasal passage. (In fact, most people have no idea that they are usually only breathing through ONE because the other is clogged 80-90% of the time!)
Alternate-nostril breathing encourages mind to higher levels of discrimination, concentration and thoughts. It also gives more energy and oxygen to the physical body and helps calm your nerves and improve circulation.
Before You Begin
For a more advanced technique, consult a yoga teacher or an acarya (spiritual teacher). Your acarya will teach the pranayama technique that will be most beneficial to your mental and physical health and prepare you to complement the pranayama with mantra and meditation. No one should risk harm by practicing these techniques without consulting a trained yoga teacher.
Sit in Padmasana or Siddhasana (see other variations).
Close your eyes. Press and close the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand. Draw in a deep breath through the left nostril. After taking a full breath, close the left nostril with the middle, ring and little finger of your right hand, taking the thumb away from the right nostril and slowly let the air out, expelling the breath fully. Inhale through your right nostril. After a full inhalation, close your right nostril with the thumb and release the fingers from your left nostril and breathe out through your left nostril. This completes one round.
Begin with three rounds each time and gradually increase rounds as you progress through the weeks.
When To Do This
Do this in a well-ventilated, clean, smoke-free, dust-free, odor-free room.
Do not perform this technique after asanas (yoga exercises).