Alternate Breathing: Anuloma Viloma

April 04, 2013

Viloma anuloma It is a magnificent exercise of control of the vital energy, Pranayama. Among the various breathing regulation exercises is one of the most important. It is a very suitable exercise to practice both in isolation and as part of an Asana session.

In this exercise the breath is alternated between the two nostrils. The human being breathes naturally in this way. This can be easily checked by placing the palm of the hand under the nose. One of the nostrils will always be partially blocked and the air of inspiration will pass mainly through the other. In a healthy person, the alternation occurs approximately every hour and fifty minutes. Normally, breathing occurs predominantly through the left nostril, which connects with the energetic channel or nadi of cold breathing called ida or moon air; then it goes to the right nostril, hot breath, channel called pingala or sun air. The energy of the left nostril is cooling while that of the right produces heat in the body. In many people this change of nostril is altered, due to bad habits such as eating, smoking, lack of physical exercise.

When the breath flows for more than two hours through the same nostril, it is a symptom that there is an imbalance in our body or in our mind. If it is the left nostril, it produces cold, decreased metabolic activity of the body. The altered right nostril supposes an increase in body heat and leads to mental and nervous disorders. When breathing is done through the same nostril for more than 24 hours, it is a sign that an illness is coming.

Viloma anuloma it restores the parity of this flow, the balance of the circulation of energy or prana in the organism and purifies the nadis.

To start practicing Viloma anulomaAs Swami Vishnudevananda mentions in "The Book of Yoga", it is recommended to practice the following phases for a time:

1 Phase. Breathing through a single nostril without retention ● 2 Phase. Alternate breathing without respiratory hold ● 3 Phase. Full Alternate Breathing

Start in this order and only when you feel comfortable move on to the second and third phase. Later you can do Viloma anuloma directly from the third phase -full alternate breathing-.


● Sit cross-legged on a cushion; back straight, face looking straight ahead and eyes closed. The chin should be slightly tilted keeping the neck stretched. ● Practice the mudras (way of placing the fingers of the hands): *left hand in Chin mudra: resting on the left knee, palm up, closing the circuit with the index finger and thumb touching each other, the other fingers extended. *right hand in Vishnu mudra: bent index and middle fingers, touching the palm of the hand.

Single nostril breathing

Inhale through both nostrils; close the right nostril with the thumb, forefinger and middle finger bent, exhale all the air through the left. Inhale through the left nostril for three seconds and exhale on the same side for six seconds. Repeat the exercise three more times. Then switch nostrils and perform the exercise with the left nostril, covering the right nostril with the ring finger. The expiration time is always twice the inspiration time. The ratio is 1:2. (inhalation:exhalation). The purpose of inhaling and exhaling through the same nostril is to correct bad breathing habits. Practice this first exercise for a while before moving on to the next.

Alternate breathing without respiratory retention Inhale through the left nostril for three seconds, open the right nostril, cover the left with the ring finger, and exhale through the right for six seconds. Inhale through the right nostril for three seconds, open the left nostril, cover the right nostril with your thumb and exhale through the left for six seconds. Repeat the exercise three more times. The ratio is 1:2 as in the previous exercise. Once you are comfortable with this practice, move on to the next phase.

Full Alternate Breathing

Inhale through the left nostril for three seconds covering the other nostril with the thumb, cover both nostrils, the left with the ring finger, the right with the thumb, keeping the index and middle fingers bent, and hold your breath for a count of twelve. exhale to the right for six seconds. Keep covering your left nostril and inhale counting to three from the right, cover both nostrils and hold at twelve; uncover the left and exhale in six. You have just completed a complete lap of Viloma anuloma. Retention is important to increase prana (vital energy) and concentration. The retention time is four times that of inspiration or twice that of expiration. The ratio is 1:4:2. (inhalation:retention:exhalation)

After a few weeks, once you feel comfortable, go from 3:12:6 to 4:16:8 pace, always keeping the 1:4:2 ratio, and moving to about 8 to 4 full laps per session . After several months you can increase the pace, going from 16:8:5 to 20:10:6; 24:12:8 until 32:16:6. But this with a lot of practice, when the nadis are already purified and with the help of an experienced teacher. To set some guidelines, let's say that it is normal to practice 4 laps at 16:8:5 and two at 20:10:XNUMX.

Only when your practice increases and you can lead a healthy life, a proper diet, without the intake of coffee, alcohol, or tobacco can you increase the pace to 8:32:16 and do more than 10 laps. The opposite is counterproductive. Apart from performing this exercise during an asana or posture session, it will be very beneficial to practice it in high-stress situations, such as before or after an important work meeting, or before and during the takeoff of a plane. Be content in these cases to be in the posture sitting on a seat. And the days that you do not attend a yoga class, practice it at home, in the morning, after meditation.

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