Alternate Nostril Breathing – The Practice

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You want to deepen your yoga practice or add more tools to your self-care tool-box? This practice is for you. Whether you feel comfortable exploring it on your own or you would like a teacher by your side the whole time, no worries, I’ve got you covered. I can be whispering in your eyes as your stress and tension melts away like an ice cream cone on a summer day.

Light up your favorite candle, pull up your cushion and let’s get to it.

If you are unfamiliar with Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, check this article.

Before we get to the step by step, here are a few tips to make the practice easier and more enjoyable.

Tips to make the most of it

  • Keep your nails short
  • Make sure your nostrils are unobstructed. Sit upright, in a comfortable and stable seat. Avoid doing this lying down.
  • Use the tip of the pad of the fingers against the bridge of the nose, just below the nasal cartilage.
  • Keep your fingers in contact with the skin at all times.
  • If you feel like your nostrils are not blocked but they feel small, you can open their aperture by pushing the skin up and away to open up the passageway.

If you are ready to practice, then here’s how!


  • Sit upright and comfortable.
  • Bring the right hand (or more dexterous hand) to your nose.
  • Rest your left hand on the left thigh in Gyan Mudra (thumb and index in a loop)Place your thumb on the right nostril, ring finger on the left. Lean the pinky finger on top.
  • Rest your peace fingers on your forehead or inside your palm. Choose less straining option.
  • Draw the chin a little down and back, lift through the back of the head.
  • Close your eyes or turn them down.
  • Relax your wrists and hands.
  • Relax your shoulders and let the shoulder blades drop.
  • Lift through the sternum, don’t collapse the chest.

Alternate Nostril Breathing – Step by Step

  1. Set finger on ridge of cartilage
  2. Close right nostril – seal the nostril to not let air escape
  3. Inhale left – keep contact with the skin all time
  4. Close left – keep your head still
  5. Open right nostril
  6. Exhale right – Stay on the same side, always inhaling where we just exhaled
  7. Inhale right – Feel the brush of the air as it comes through
  8. Close right – Don’t strain, apply gentle pressure
  9. Open left nostril
  10. Exhale left, creating that even flow of air so it becomes a steam, with the quality of flow like a river
  11. Keep fingers in contact the whole time, develop your sensitivity to the touch of your skin and movement of air
  12. This is one round. Repeat for 5 minutes.

In summary

Close right – Inhale left

Close left – exhale right

Stay – Inhale right

Close right – Exhale left

(= 1 full round, continue for 5 min)

Want to be guided through it?

Would you like me to walk you through it? In my premium membership platform, you’ll find a complete episode on Alternate Nostril Breathing and it includes a guided practice.

In this guided practice, we do it the classic way that I laid it out here for you and we play with variations. You’ll also have access to those! Some variations are easier for you to get more comfortable with the practice. You’ll even get suggestions to go further, over time.

Where next?

Want to explore the world of Pranayama? Listen to Intro to Pranayama, with Richard Rosen

Want to learn about Breath of Fire? Check our premium episode on the subject.

Want to learn Square Breath? Check our premium episode on it.

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Hi, I'm Erika.
Your Yoga Teacher and Life Coach.

I have a passion for helping women in their personal growth, so they can feel that anything is possible in life. Blogging is one way I do that; another medium for me to share a more personal side of the whole journey. Self-Study, awareness, and inquiry are a big part of my path. Join me as I use my experiences as the base for the lessons I want to share. I write about what I know and what helps me, hoping that it will help you.

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