Anulom Vilom - Alternate Nostril Breathing

Anulom Vilom is one of the core breathing exercises in yoga, and it is also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing.

Anulom Vilom - Alternate Nostril Breathing

Anulom Vilom is one of the core breathing exercises in yoga, and it is also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing. It involves conscious breath regulation by inhaling through one nostril while keeping the other closed. The breath is retained for a short while, and then exhaled out through the other nostril. We then repeat this process with the other nostril.




Anahata/Heart Chakra


In Sanskrit, anu means with; vi means against or and loma means hair. Anuloma means with the hair or with the grain and viloma means against the natural course.


Cleansing breathing technique

Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing

  • When you breathe with more awareness, you allow your body to become fully oxygenated. 
  • This brings many benefits to your overall physical and physiological health.
  • Anulom Vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is a yogic breathing exercise that offers numerous physiological and mental health benefits with regular practice.
  •  It’s not exactly pranayama, but actually a preparatory exercise, a pre-stage to pranayama.
  •  Induces a calm mind, filters toxins from the body increases oxygenation and improves vital functions of the body.
  • Helps ease stress, fear, anxiety, and panic attacks and also balances a person’s emotions.
  • Improves concentration and other cognitive functions.
  • Doing it on a daily basis strengthens and purifies the nadis or subtle energy channels (Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna) in the astral body. This supports your overall nervous system and keeps it in balance.

Instructions for Alternate Nostril Breathing

To practice Alternate Nostril Breathing make sure that you are in a quiet and well-ventilated place and seated upright in a comfortable position.

  1. 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
  2. Inhale for 4 counts through your left nostril.
  3. 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.
  4. Keeping your left nostril closed, release your right nostril and exhale completely to a count of 8.
  5.  With your left nostril closed, inhale through your right to a count of 4.
  6.  Close both nostrils and hold your breath for a count of 8.
  7. Keeping your right nostril closed, release your fingers from your left nostril and breathe out completely for a count of 8.
  8. This completes one round. Continue this exercise for 5-10 minutes.

Contraindications & Cautions

  • Anulom Vilom can be practiced by anyone and everyone. It is a truly beneficial breathing exercise.
  • However, if you are pregnant or suffering from hypertension, anxiety, or panic attacks, you should skip the retention of breath and do only the alternate breathing in and out.


  • For beginners the ratio of 1:2:2 is recommended.
  • So, 4 counts inhalation, 8 counts retention, and 8 counts exhalation.
  • 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.

Relevant Pranayama Techniques

When practiced safely, pranayama is beneficial to body and mind. You can also try other pranayama  such as 
Skull Shining Breath - Kapalbathi.

For more yoga asanas and exercises, make sure to visit the Arhanta Yoga Asana Guide!


Receive guided pranayama practices for more clarity & energy with master teacher Ram Jain for free