- Place your right hand in Vishnu Mudra by folding the index and middle fingers inwards. Close your right nostril with your thumb, and breathe out completely through your left nostril.
- Inhale for 4 counts through your left nostril.
- Close your left nostril with the ring and little fingers so that both nostrils are now closed. Hold your breath for a count of 8.
- Keeping your left nostril closed, release your right nostril and exhale completely to a count of 8.
- With your left nostril closed, inhale through your right to a count of 4.
- Close both nostrils and hold your breath for a count of 8.
- Keeping your right nostril closed, release your fingers from your left nostril and breathe out completely for a count of 8.
- This completes one round. Continue this exercise for 5 to 10 minutes.
- For beginners the ratio of 1:2:2 is recommended. So 4 counts inhalation, 8 counts retention, and 8 counts
- As you become comfortable with this exercise, the ratio of the exercise can be taken to 1:4:2, which is the classical and proper way. So 4 counts inhalation, 16 counts retention, and 8 counts exhalation.
- The count of the exercise may be increased, but always in a ratio of 1:4:2.
- cleanses and strengthens the entire respiratory system;
- expels more stale air and waste products from your lungs, because exhalation is twice the time of inhalation;
- decreases respiratory rate, prolongs exhalation, and thus leads to increased carbon dioxide levels in the blood, which in turn leads to improved oxygen absorption in the cells;
- helps to bring equilibrium between the solar and lunar energies in the body (The breath naturally alternates between the two nostrils, changing approximately every 2 hours. The breath in your right nostril is hot, symbolically referred to as the Sun or Pingala. It is catabolic and acceleratory to the organs of your body. The flow from your left, which is cool and referred to as the Moon or Ida, is anabolic and inhibitory to your body.);
- helps to balance the hemispheres of the brain;
- helps to calm the mind, making it lucid and steady, preparing it for meditation; and
- helps to purify the nadis, the energy tubes in the astral body.
Thus it should be mastered and practiced on a regular basis before going on to pranayama exercises. Read more about the differences between breathing exercises and pranayama here.