Jul 18, 2009

yoga > pranayama > anulom vilom

We realize that anulom vilom is one of the simplest pranayamas and yet many people do it wrongly, so this post.

Anulom vilom is nothing but breathing alternately through the two nostrils. Inhale through one while blocking the other. Next, block the first nostril and exhale through the other nostril. 
Repeat it like this: [L for left, R for right]

L in – R out – R in – L out -- L in – R out - …

Let us give you the standard procedure of doing anulom vilom.

1. Sit comfortably, with spine straight, arms on the laps. Take breath naturally.
2. Bring your right hand near you. Bend the index and middle fingers. In this condition, your thumb will be facing the ring and little fingers.
3. Bring the right hand in front of the nose so that the thumb touches the right nostril and the ring finger touches the left one.
4. Gently press the right nostril with the thumb. It will block the right nostril. Inhale through the left nostril and fill the lungs as much as you can do comfortably.
5. Hold the breath for a moment and press the left nostril with the ring finger while releasing the thumb from the right nostril. Exhale through the right nostril.
6. When you have exhaled all the air [in a deep , but not uncomfortable breath], inhale through this very nostril.
7. Hold the breath, exhale through the left nostril.

This cycle of anulom vilom can be repeated 10 times to start with. This will come to around one minute. Slowly, you may go up to about 50-60 cycles. Some yogis recommend doing anulom vilom for 15-20 minutes for getting rid of chronic metabolic problems, but that should be done only if one is able to do so without discomfort. Better is to do anulom vilom for such long period under supervision of a well-qualified yogi / yoga teacher.

Do take care of these: Do not use force in inhalation or exhalation. Do not hold breath for long periods [breath holding variants have their own do’s and don’ts]. Do not press the nostril hard. If the arm aches or feels heavy, move the elbows up and down a few times after every 5-6 cycles.

If one or both nostrils are blocked due to cough or other reason, do not blow hard to force them open. Clean the nostrils with water and sneeze away the blocking. Very gently try anulom vilom for a few times and take rest; try again, take rest; try again. If the nostrils have not satisfactorily opened yet, keep anulom vilom for some other time. Avoid doing anulom vilom in positions other than a comfortable cross-legged sitting position [sidhdhasana / padmasana].