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Anulom Vilom Pranayama: Benefits, steps, precautions

Anulom Vilom pranayama, also called Alternate Nostril Breathing, is a popular breathing exercise in Hatha Yoga. It is one of the main pranayamas practiced during yoga sessions. Anulom Vilom is usually done at the beginning, followed by other pranayamas like Deep Breathing, Kapalbhati, Bhastrika, and so on.

It is important to master Anulom Vilom before proceeding to other pranayama techniques. Anulom Vilom is also referred to as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.

Anulom Vilom Pranayama

In the Sanskrit language “Anulom” means “upright” and “Vilom” means “upside down.” In this context, “upright” refers to the nasal or right pore of the nose, while “upside down” refers to the left pore of the nose.

 In Anulom Vilom, you inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. In the same way, if you breathe in through your left nostril, you should breathe out through your right nostril.

Anulom Vilom Benefits 

Anulom Vilom Pranayama is highly effective in cleansing both the mind and body. Regular practice provides energy to the body and helps alleviate stress, anxiety, and various health issues.

Heart issues, arthritis, joint discomfort, depression, asthma, and high blood pressure can all be helped by it. Additionally, some practitioners suggest that Anulom Vilom can aid in the treatment of ligament problems, neural issues, migraine pain, and sinus-related conditions.

Practicing Anulom Vilom can help with weight reduction, depending on an individual’s body type. Additionally, Pranayama ensures that all the body organs receive a sufficient supply of energy, which contributes to overall health improvement.

Why Anulom Vilom is also called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama?

In the Sanskrit language, Anulom Vilom pranayam is also known as Nadi Shodhana Pranayam. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama consists of three words: “Nadi” refers to the energy channels of the body, “Shodhan” means purification, and “Pranayam” means breathing.

Practicing Nadi Shodhan Pranayama helps purify the pulse channels (nadis) and increases the level of oxygen in the body. It is a yogic breathing technique that involves controlling the subtle energy (pranic energy) flowing through specific channels in our body, namely Eda, Pingala, and Sushumna. These three nadis are crucial energy pathways in the human body.

The Ida Nadi, which is linked to the moon or the mind, is represented by the left nostril, while the Pingala Nadi, which is linked to the sun or the body, is represented by the right nostril.

When breathing with alternate nostrils, we have to breathe in through the left nostril, exhale through the right, and then breathe in through the right nostril, exhale through the left. This practice helps purify the Ida and Pingala Nadis, and is known as Nadi Shodhan Pranayama.

Nadi Shodhan Pranayama is a sequence of breathing techniques that aim to cleanse and balance these energy channels, thereby bringing calmness to the mind. It offers physical, mental, and spiritual tranquillity. This process is also referred to as Anulom Vilom Breathing.

The purpose of Nadi Shodhan Pranayama is to balance the energy in both the body and the mind. It is recommended for various types of problems.

According to the principles of Hatha Yoga, health conditions arise from an imbalance between the Ida and Pingala Nadis. By practicing alternate nostril breathing, we can restore balance between these two forces and promote overall well-being.

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Anulom Vilom as per Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra

During the practice of Anulom-Vilom Pranayama, there are three actions involved, known as the Hathayogi practice, which are Abhyantara Vritti, Stambha Vritti, and Bahya Vritti.

Puraka (Abhyantara Vritti): This refers to the controlled inhalation, where you breathe in slowly and steadily.

Kumbhaka (Stambha Vritti): This is the process of holding the breath inside after inhalation, for a specific duration determined by the practitioner.

Rechaka (Bahya Vritti): This involves exhaling the breath that was inhaled, releasing it outward.

These three actions together form the practice of Anulom-Vilom Pranayama.

The process of inhaling (Puraka), exhaling (Rechaka), and retaining the breath (Kumbhaka) is known as Anulom-Vilom. Different yoga principles have varying opinions about it. According to Patanjali, it is recommended to practice Anulom-Vilom in a specific ratio of 1:4:2.

Anulom Vilom can also be performed without holding the breath. For beginners, it is advisable to practice Anulom Vilom without breath retention.

There are multiple reasons to practice Nadishodana Anulom Vilom. By incorporating a few rounds of this breathing exercise into our daily routine for a few minutes, we can gain some control over our consciousness.

How To Do Anulom Vilom Pranayama

The practice of Anulom Vilom is easy and simple. You can choose any particular time of day to practice this pranayama.

Morning is considered an ideal time for practicing Pranayama. It works effectively in keeping you healthy, especially amidst the fresh air of the morning. However, you can also practice it in the evening if you prefer so.

Now, let’s go through the steps for practicing Anulom Vilom:

Anulom Vilom Pranayama Steps

  • Find a comfortable posture by sitting on the ground. Padmasana (lotus pose) or the Sukhasana are the best, but if you have any difficulties, you can sit on a chair as well.
  • Relax your body and take deep breaths. Keep your spine straight, close your eyes, relax your shoulders, and sit comfortably. Place your hands on your knees.
  • Position your left hand on your left knee, with the palm facing upward in the Gyan Mudra (hand gesture of knowledge). Then, place your right thumb on your right nostril and take a slow and deep breath through your left nostril.
  • Gently press the left nostril with your ring finger while opening the right nostril, and exhale through the right nostril.
  • With the left nostril still closed, inhale deeply through your right nostril. Seal the right nostril again with your thumb, and release the left nostril.
  • Exhale through the left nostril and get back in the original position, with the thumb sealing the right nostril.
  • Try to perform this procedure ten or more times, increasing the amount of repetitions as you go.
  • By following these above-mentioned steps, you can practice Anulom Vilom and experience its benefits.
  • Once you have gained control over your breath during Nadi Shodhana, you can start incorporating breath retention at the top and bottom of each inhale and exhale cycle. It is important not to strain and allow this stage to develop gradually.
  • In Anulom Vilom, the ratio of Puraka (inhale), Kumbhaka (breath retention), and Rechaka (exhale) can be adjusted. However, for beginners, it is recommended to maintain a breathing ratio of 1:2:2.
  • This indicates that the length of an intake is one unit, the length of a breath held is twice as long, and the length of an exhale is also twice as long.
  • As you progress and become more comfortable, you can explore and adjust the ratios according to your capacity and guidance from a qualified instructor.

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Nadi Shodhana Pranayama Steps:

For Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, follow these simple steps:

  • Begin by sitting in the Padmasana posture on the ground. Your left foot should be on your right thigh, and your right foot should be on your left thigh. Close your eyes.
  • Bring your hands into the Gyan Mudra (knowledge gesture) by touching the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb. Rest your hands on your knees and ensure your back and neck are in a straight line.
  • Close your right nostril with your right thumb and slowly inhale for 1 second through your left nostril. For beginners, 1 second is recommended. As you progress, you can adjust the duration.
  • After inhaling, close your left nostril with your ring finger while keeping the right nostril open. Hold your breath for 2 seconds. Again, 2 seconds is suitable for beginners, and you can increase the duration gradually.
  • With the left nostril still closed, exhale for 2 seconds through the right nostril. The ratio remains the same for beginners, but it can be adjusted as you advance.
  • After exhaling through the right nostril, inhale for 1 second through the right nostril. Close both nostrils for 2 seconds and exhale for 2 seconds through the left nostril.
  • As you progress, you can change the ratio to 1:4:2, where the duration of inhalation (Puraka) is 1 second, breath retention (Kumbhaka) is 4 seconds, and exhalation (Rechaka) is 2 seconds. This ratio is considered ideal in traditional yoga texts.
  • Once you have mastered complete breath control during Nadi Shodhana, you can gradually increase the ratio. Remember not to rush or strain yourself. Allow this stage to develop slowly. With regular practice, you can increase the ratio to 2:8:4.

By following these steps and gradually increasing the ratio, you can practice Anulom Vilom effectively.

Anulom Vilom

The Importance of “Kumbhaka” (Stambha Vritti) in Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

What is “Kumbhaka”

As we have read above “kumbhaka is the “retention or holding the breath”

Kumbhaka is a part of Pranayama, where you inhale air and hold it inside the body. It is a special technique performed after inhalation. During Kumbhaka, you close your mouth and press your nostrils closed with your thumb on one side and your middle and ring fingers on the other side, preventing air from entering or leaving. This is also known as breath retention or Kumbhaka.

Types of Kumbhaka

There are two types of Kumbhaka. The first one is called “Antara Kumbhaka,” which is the retention of breath inside the body. The second one is called “Bahya Kumbhaka,” which is the retention of breath outside the body.

Breathing is an essential and continuous process throughout our lives. We do pranayama to keep our respiratory system healthy and functioning smoothly. By practicing techniques like Kumbhaka, we aim to improve the health and efficiency of our breathing.

Similarly, there are approximately 72,000 micro-channels called Nadis in our bodies. These Nadis start from the brain or spinal cord and spread throughout the body like electrical cables. They are vital for the functioning of our body in a proper manner.

However, sometimes these Nadis can become blocked or obstructed. Kumbhaka, the breath retention technique in Pranayama, is used to purify these Nadis. When we practice Kumbhaka during Pranayama, these blockages are cleared.

In addition to clearing the Nadis, practicing Kumbhaka has several other benefits. It helps awaken our consciousness and preserves our memories. It allows the mind to function better and protects the body from deterioration.

It also enhances willpower and personal development. As a result, the body becomes radiant and ages gracefully.

Pranayama is an important practice in yoga, and the true benefits of Pranayama lie in the practice of Kumbhaka. Therefore, practitioners of Pranayama are encouraged to incorporate Kumbhaka into their practice to experience its full benefits.

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Benefits of Anulom Vilom Pranayama

The benefits of practicing Anulom Vilom Pranayama are numerous. This breathing technique not only purifies the breath but also cleanses the entire vascular system. According to yoga texts, practicing Anulom Vilom can help alleviate various types of diseases.

Scientific studies have also shown positive effects of Anulom Vilom:

  1. A scientific study on Nadi Shodhana Pranayama demonstrated improved health, reduced stress and anxiety, and overall well-being.
  2. The slow breathing technique, such as Anulom Vilom, has shown significant improvements in health fitness components like cardiorespiratory endurance, flexibility, and body fat percentage.
  3. Studies suggest that Nadi Shodhana and Anulom Vilom are beneficial for students as they enhance concentration. Anulom Vilom has been found to promote a calm mind and help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression.
  4. Regular practice of Anulom Vilom can help balance Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, the three doshas associated with physical well-being.
  5. Research indicates that practicing Anulom Vilom for 20 minutes increases parasympathetic activity, which is linked to relaxation and stress reduction.
  6. Another study suggests that practicing Anulom Vilom for 30 minutes daily can improve sinus inflammation (rhinosinusitis) by aiding mucus clearance from the nose and sinuses.
  7. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, which includes Anulom Vilom, has additional benefits:
  8. It has a positive impact on the nervous system and brain, leading to the development of consciousness and intelligence.
  9. Regular practice balances the main energy channels, Ida and Pingala.
  10. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama purifies the pulse and increases oxygen levels in the body.
  11. It helps to bring the mind back to the present moment, reducing regret about the past and worry about the future.
  12. Regular practice enhances memory and promotes positive thinking.
  13. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama cleanses and strengthens the nerves, reducing anxiety and depression. Daily practice purifies all 72,000 Nadis in the body.
  14. It effectively relaxes the mind and body, releasing accumulated tension.
  15. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama purifies and stabilizes the nerves, allowing the flow of vital energy throughout the body. Anulom Vilom, as part of Nadi Shodhana, can contribute to overall body detoxification, which may benefit the skin.
  16. It also helps to maintain body temperature. By incorporating Anulom Vilom and Nadi Shodhana into your daily routine, you can experience these beneficial effects on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Nadi Shodhana vs Anulom Vilom

The only difference between Anulom Vilom and Nadi Shodhana Pranayama lies in their names. Anulom Vilom is named so because it involves inhaling and exhaling through the nostrils in an alternate pattern.

On the other hand, Nadi Shodhana Pranayama gets its name from the practice of Kumbhaka, which helps purify all the nerves (Nadis) in the body. By practicing Nadi Shodhana, the three main Nadis in the body, namely Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna, function in the correct and balanced way.

This practice provides relief from imbalances related to Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas, thus promoting overall well-being.

Anuloma Viloma Precautions

According to the Yoga Sutra, Anulom Vilom is generally safe for most healthy individuals and does not cause any harm to the practitioner. This breathing technique become more safe when taught by a trained teacher.

  • It is extremely important to practice this Pranayama on an empty stomach. Avoid doing it immediately after a meal and maintain a gap of 4-5 hours. The best time to practice Anulom Vilom is in the morning on an empty stomach.
  • While practicing, you can mentally recite the sound “OM” as it has a positive impact on the mind.
  • Begin with duration of one or two minutes and gradually increase it as you gain confidence and comfort.
  • Individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure, and pregnant women should avoid holding their breath for extended periods during this pranayama.
  • Do not force or strain your breath; maintain a simple and comfortable pace.
  • Breathe only through the nostrils and avoid making any sound while breathing.
  • Gently place your fingers on the nostrils without applying excessive pressure.
  • It is harmful for individuals with asthma and heart disease to forcefully hold their breath (Kumbhak) for too long.

Conclusion for Anulom Vilom Pranayama:

Anulom Vilom Pranayama is a breathing exercise that involves altering the flow of breath through the nostrils (known as Alternate Nostril Breathing). It is recommended to practice this exercise after completing yoga asanas. This Pranayama is performed to enhance both physical and mental well-being.

FAQs: Anulom Vilom Pranayama

Q1: What is Anulom Vilom?

Anulom Vilom, also known in English as alternate nostril breathing, is a breathing technique in yoga that involves alternating the flow of breath through both nostrils.

It is a powerful practice that can helps in balancing the energy flow in the body and promotes overall well-being.

Q2: What are the benefits of practicing Anulom Vilom?

Anulom Vilom offers numerous benefits apart from the some mentioned below:

Calming and balancing the mind

Reducing stress and anxiety

Beneficial for Heart problems

Improving concentration and focus

Clearing blocked energy channels

Enhancing lung capacity and oxygen intake

Regulating blood pressure

Detoxifying the body

Reduces Joint Pain and Depression

Helpful in Asthma conditions

Boosting the immune system

Increasing vitality and overall well-being

Q3: What are the precautions to consider while practicing Anulom Vilom?

While practicing Anulom Vilom, keep the following precautions in mind:

Practice on an empty stomach or at least 4-5 hours after a meal.

If you feel dizzy or uncomfortable during the practice, take a break and only resume when you feel comfortable.

Avoid straining or forcing the breath. Maintain a smooth, steady, and natural rhythm.

Q4: When is the best time to practice Anulom Vilom?

Although Anulom Vilom can be practiced at any time of the day.

However, the early morning hours, when the mind is fresh and the environment is clean, is considered to be the best time for this practice.

You can also practice it in the evening 4-5 hours after meals to relieve stress and to relax before bedtime.

Q5: Can anyone practice Anulom Vilom?

Anulom Vilom is safe and can be practiced by most individuals.

However, if you have any respiratory disorders, heart conditions, or high blood pressure, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional or a qualified yoga instructor before starting the practice.

Q6: How long should I practice Anulom Vilom?

Initially, start with 5-10 minutes of practice and gradually increase the duration as you become comfortable with this Pranayama.

It is recommended to practice Anulom Vilom for at least 15-30 minutes every day to experience its full benefits.

Share your experience of doing Anulom Vilom and if you have any questions or comments regarding this Post you can ask in the comments section belo

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