Deutsch: Wechselseitige Nasenlochatmung / Español: Respiración por la fosa nasal alterna / Português: Respiração alternada pelas narinas / Français: Respiration alternée par les narines / Italian: Respirazione alternata delle narici

Alternate nostril breathing is a yogic breath control technique known as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. This practice is used in yoga and fitness routines to promote relaxation, balance, and mental clarity. It involves breathing through one nostril at a time while blocking the other, alternating between the left and right nostrils.


In the fitness context, alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana) is a powerful breathing exercise that enhances both physical and mental well-being. It is particularly effective for stress reduction, improving focus, and promoting overall respiratory health. The practice involves a specific sequence of breath control that balances the flow of air through the nostrils and harmonizes the body's energy channels.

How to Perform Alternate Nostril Breathing:

  1. Seated Position: Sit comfortably with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed. Rest your left hand on your knee and bring your right hand to your nose.
  2. Starting Position: Use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Inhale deeply through your left nostril.
  3. Switch: Close your left nostril with your right ring finger and release your right nostril. Exhale slowly and completely through your right nostril.
  4. Inhale: Inhale deeply through your right nostril.
  5. Switch: Close your right nostril with your right thumb, release your left nostril, and exhale through your left nostril.
  6. Repeat: This completes one cycle. Continue this pattern, alternating nostrils, for several minutes.

Key benefits and elements of alternate nostril breathing include:

  • Stress Reduction: By promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety, this technique helps lower stress levels.
  • Improved Focus: Enhances concentration and mental clarity, making it a valuable tool for meditation and mindfulness practices.
  • Balanced Energy: Balances the body's energy channels, or nadis, leading to a sense of harmony and well-being.
  • Respiratory Health: Strengthens the respiratory system and improves lung function.

Special Considerations

When practicing alternate nostril breathing, it's important to maintain a calm and steady breath. Beginners should start with a few minutes and gradually increase the duration as they become more comfortable with the technique. Ensure that the breath is smooth and even, without any strain.

Application Areas

Alternate nostril breathing is utilized in various fitness and wellness contexts, including:

  • Yoga: Commonly practiced in yoga sessions as part of pranayama (breathing exercises) to prepare for meditation or asana practice.
  • Meditation: Used to enhance focus and calm the mind before meditation.
  • Mindfulness Practices: Incorporated into mindfulness routines to promote relaxation and mental clarity.
  • Stress Management: Applied in stress reduction programs and therapeutic settings to manage anxiety and stress.

Well-Known Examples

Alternate nostril breathing is featured in:

  • Hatha Yoga: Often included in pranayama sequences to balance energy and prepare for deeper practices.
  • Mindfulness Programs: Used in various mindfulness and relaxation techniques to improve mental health.
  • Therapeutic Yoga: Integrated into yoga therapy sessions to aid in managing stress and promoting relaxation.
  • Fitness Routines: Sometimes included in cool-down sequences to help transition from intense physical activity to a state of rest.

Treatment and Risks

While alternate nostril breathing is generally safe for most people, there are a few considerations:

  • Nasal Congestion: Those with nasal congestion or sinus issues may find it difficult to practice this technique. It is best to wait until the congestion clears.
  • Breath Control: Beginners should avoid holding the breath for too long or forcing the breath, which can cause discomfort or dizziness.
  • Medical Conditions: Individuals with respiratory conditions or other health issues should consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new breathing practices.

Similar Terms

  • Nadi Shodhana: The traditional Sanskrit name for alternate nostril breathing.
  • Pranayama: The broader category of yogic breathing exercises that includes alternate nostril breathing.
  • Anulom Vilom: Another term often used interchangeably with alternate nostril breathing, though it sometimes refers to a specific variation of the technique.


Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama) is a beneficial practice in the fitness context that promotes relaxation, mental clarity, and respiratory health. By balancing the flow of breath through the nostrils, it harmonizes the body's energy and supports overall well-being. This technique is widely used in yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices, offering a simple yet effective way to enhance both physical and mental health.


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