Anulom Vilom Pranayama is an alternate nostril breathing similar to Nadi Shodan Pranayama. Anulom Vilom is a Pranayama technique that involves exhalation, retention, and inhalation, whereas Nadi Shodan involves only exhalation and inhalation. In other words, alternate nostril breathing without breath retention is Nadi Shodan and alternate nostril breathing with breath retention is Anulom Vilom. Also, it is a suitable practice for winter as it makes the body warmer. During summer, you should add Chandra Bhedan Pranayama or Sitali, or Sitkari along with this practice to balance body temperature.
Correctly speaking Nadi Shodan Pranayama is the first stage of Anulom Vilom Pranayama. Most people use both terms interchangeably with one another.
In this article, we discuss its meaning, enumerate the steps, and list the benefits.
Anulom Vilom Pranayama Meaning and Details
Anuloma in Sanskrit means towards. Similarly, Viloma means reverse. The order of using the nostrils is reversed every time. For instance, inhalation is used in the left nostril, and exhalation is used in the right nostril then it is followed by inhalation through the right nostril and exhalation through the left nostril. It is constantly reversed. Hence, it gets this name. In English, we call Anulom Vilom Alternate Nostril Breathing with Retention.
Anulom Vilom Pranayama Steps
- Sit in a posture of meditation. Keep the spine and head in a straight line.
- Then, close your eyes and relax your body taking a couple of deep and slow breaths.
- Place your right hand in Nasagra Mudra. Also, place your left hand on your left knee in Chin Mudra or Gnana Mudra.
- Press the right thumb on the right nostril so that your right nostril is completely closed. Inhale slowly and deeply through your left nostril.
- At the end of inhalation, close the left nostril with your ring and little fingers while folding the index and middle fingers. Now both nostrils are blocked. Retain the breath.
- At the end of retention, release the thumb and exhale through the right nostril.
- Next, close the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. This is one round.
- Similarly, repeat the process for a minimum of five rounds.
- First, the duration of exhalation, retention, and inhalation should be equal. You should increase the duration of retention and exhalation week after week. The target ratio of inhalation, retention, and exhalation should be 1:4:2.
Anulom Vilom Benefits
This practice is relaxative and produces mental tranquility. Hence, it helps to manage stress, anxiety, and depression.
Moreover, it improves the functions of the lung and alleviates cough disorders.
It is an important breathing technique to combat the established features of rhinosinusitis apart from better ventilation of paranasal sinuses in the nasal cavity. Also, it reduces mucociliary clearance time. (Atul Bhardwaj et al., 2013).
This practice may be a useful adjuvant to medical therapy for high blood pressure and lung diseases.
It shows a positive relaxation response in females suffering from premenstrual syndrome. (Bhawana Sharma et al., 2013).
Recent studies observed a significant reduction in auditory as well as visual reaction time after performing Anulom Vilom Pranayama. This results in a faster rate of information processing and improved concentration which would be helpful in situations that require faster reactivities like sports, driving, machine operations, Surgery, etc. (Shrikrishna N Bamne, April 2017).
A study by Akhila, J. S. (2010) concludes that the regular practice of Anulom Vilom Pranayama and Eka Padasana can be an alternative modality in the management of Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder in children.
It improves vital capacity. (Ms. Nutan Beniwal & Mr. Vineet Sharma, March, 2016).
Alternate Nostril Breathing without breath retention is suitable for people of all ages and health conditions. It is simple and easy to practice and yet offers many health benefits. For a healthy mind and body, one should consider including it in the daily schedule of practice. A beginner should start the Pranayama practice with three rounds of Kapalabhati. After a couple of minutes, he should take the practice of 15 rounds of Anulom Vilom. Then he should perform 20 rounds of Ujjayi. This schedule could be an ideal one for a beginner. After a few months of practice, he may add breath retention and other Pranayama techniques to his routine.