ANULOM VILOM PRANAYAMA - HOW TO DO, BENEFITS, AYURVEDIC VIEW
About Anulom Vilom Pranayama
Anulom Vilom Pranayama is also known as alternate nostril breathing exercise. Alternate nostril breathing exercise is one of the main practices of Pranayama. Anulom Vilom Pranayama or alternate breathing exercise is mentioned in the yogic texts Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Gheranda Samhita, Tirumandiram, Siva Samhita, Puranas and in the Upanishads.
The practice of anulom vilom pranayama involves inhalation which is called as Puraka, retention which is called as Kumbhaka and exhalation which is called as Rechaka. Anulom Vilom pranayama can be practiced with or without holding the breath which is called as kumbhaka. Beginners should start the practice without Kumbhaka, but if they want can also hold the breath.
The duration of inhalation as well as expiration entirely depends on the capacity or ability of the practitioner. Start with whatever time limit you are comfortable with – say 3 seconds inhalation and 3 seconds exhalation. Later it can be increased up to 10-20 or 30 seconds or even more.
In Anulom Vilom pranayama or alternate nostril breathing, breathing is done only through one nostril which is alternated. During this process, the other nostril is closed with the help of the fingers. The thumb is used to close the nostril of the right side and the ring finger is used to close the nostril of left side.
Anulom Vilom Pranayama or alternate nostril breathing becomes an advanced practice, if it is done with retention of breath. It can be learned with the help of a yoga expert. Avoid retention of breath during this process, if you are suffering from heart diseases or blood pressure problems [whether it is high or it is low]. One might do the alternate breathing exercise without holding the breath. Plus, consult a doctor or physician if you have any other medical condition before taking up the practice.
How to do Anulom Vilom Pranayama?
Some basic steps should be followed to perform this pranayama:
- Keep your body in a steady asana. Padmasna is most suited for the practice of this asana. Vajrasana and sidddhasana may also be used.
- Close the nostril of the right side with your thumb and inhale the air from the nostril of the left side. Do this process as slowly as you can, until your lungs are full.
- Now release the thumb slowly and close the nostril of left side with the help of your ring finger. Then exhale out the air slowly through the right nostril.
- Next draw in the air from the nostril of right side and then release it through the nostril of left side (after closing the nostril of right side with the thumb).
- This process completes the one round of Anulom Vilom Pranayama.
- Initiate with 5 rounds and you can increase it up to 20 rounds in one sitting, depending upon your capability.
- Also, you can start the duration of inhalation from 2 seconds and go up to 20 seconds or even beyond that.
- You can have one sitting in the morning as well as one in the evening. The yogic texts recommends four sittings – one in the morning, one at noon, one in the evening and one at midnight, but only for the advanced practitioners. Two sittings (one in morning and one in evening) are enough, for all practical purposes.
- You can add retention of breath or kumbhaka to the practice, only if you have achieved a certain level of proficiency.
What are the Benefits of Anulom Vilom Pranayama?
- Anulom Vilom Pranayama or alternate nostril breathing helps in cleaning the pranic channels and helps the prana to flow freely in the entire body. The pranic or the nadis energy channels are purified. That is the only reason, this pranayama is also called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.
- Purification of the energy channels helps in proper supply of pranic energy to all the organs which ultimately enhances the overall health of the body.
- Anulom Vilom Pranyama or alternate nostril breathing balances the two main energy channels which are Ida and Pingala. It balances the two hemispheres of the brain and ultimately providing peace and tranquility throughout the body.
- When the Ida and Pingala nadis are balanced, it helps in awakening the central channel which is called as Sushumna Nadi.
- This pranayama helps to remove the toxins out of the body.
- Practice of Anulom Vilom Pranayama for a longer duration leads to next stage of yoga, which is called as Pratyahara [withdrawal of the senses]. This helps in enabling the practitioner to progress towards higher practices of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi, which are the higher stages of asana.
- It helps in reduction of the weight in some practitioners depending on their body constitution and is also wonderful for the patients suffering from obesity.
What are the Contraindications of Anulom Vilom Pranayama?
- People who are suffering from heart ailments should not attempt retention of breath, as it can lead to worsening of the condition.
- Plus, avoid retention of breath if you are suffering from high blood pressure.
What is the Ayurvedic point of Anulom Vilom Pranayama?
Both yoga and Ayurveda are interconnected. Yoga is a part of Ayurveda but Ayurveda is not a part of yoga. Yoga is mentioned in the charak Samhita. Yoga is wonderful for calming the mind as well as helps in dissolving the physical stress. Anulom vilom pranayama is an ideal exercise as it helps in removing the stress. Yoga helps in balancing all the three doshas of the body. It helps in toning every area of the body and flushing the toxins out of the body which are the main goals of Ayurveda.