What Are Breathing Techniques?

There are many types of breathing techniques, many of which come from Yoga. The science of pranayama is a whole branch of Yoga dealing solely with breathing techniques. Prana is the energy of the Universe – like Qi in Qigong or Tai Chi. Alternate nostril breathing is one pranayama technique:

  • Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Do this to the count of four.

  • Immediately close the left nostril with your right ring finger and little finger, and at the same time remove your thumb from the right nostril, and exhale through this nostril. Do this to the count of eight. This completes a half round.

  • Inhale through the right nostril to the count of four. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through the left nostril to the count of eight. This completes one full round.

  • Start by doing three rounds, adding one per week until you are doing seven rounds.

Alternate nostril breathing should not be practiced if you have a cold or if your nasal passages are blocked in any way. Forced breathing through the nose may lead to complications. In breathing practices it is important to follow this rule: under no circumstances should anything be forced. If you use the nostrils for breath control they must be unobstructed. If they are not, you must practice throat breathing.


  1. The exercise produces optimum function in both sides of the brain: that is optimum creativity and optimum logical verbal activity. This also creates a more balanced person, since both halves of the brain are functioning property.

  2. The yogis consider this to be the best technique to calm the mind and the nervous system. (from http://holisticonline.com/yoga/hol_yoga_breathing-ex-nadisodh.htm).