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Benefits of Anulom Vilom and How to Do it By Dr. Ankit Sankhe

By Dr. Ankit Sankhe +2 more


Yoga has its roots in ancient India. It is a practice that aims to bring harmony between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of a person. Though an incredibly old Indian tradition, Yoga found its way to the developed countries only in the 19th century, when the basic texts of Yoga were translated into English. 

The word ‘yoga’ (derived from the Sanskrit word ’yuj’ meaning ‘joining’) is the method for changing the consciousness and achieving freedom from karma and resurrection.  

The Great Indian sage Patanjali arranged the various Yogic practices in a systematic manner, known as Ashtanga, which metaphorically means ‘having eight components’. Of these eight components, Pranayama is the fourth aspect.1,2 

Pranayamas are the various breathing techniques in Yoga. Breath is the life force. It is said that when the life force (prana) in a person’s body is low, then that person tends to be dull, lazy, and low spirited. Toxic substances then start accumulating in such low-prana parts of the body causing pain, stiffness or some medical condition. Through the Pranayama, the life force can flow freely allowing the toxic substances to be released from the body.1 

Anulom vilom is one of the ways to practice Pranayama. 

What is Anulom vilom?  

‘Anu’ means ‘with ‘and ‘Loma’ means nostril hairs. ‘Vi’ means opposite (Viruddha). Hence, Anulom Vilom is also called as ‘inhalation and exhalation in opposite directions’. 

The left nostril is said to symbolize the moon (also called as Chandra or Ida) and the right nostril symbolizes the Sun (also called as Surya or Pingla). As we all know, the Moon is cooler than the Sun. Using this analogy, breathing in through the Chandra (left) nostril has a cooling effect on the body and soul while breathing in through the Surya (right) nostril heats up the body and provides warmth. At any given time, it is said that we breathe only through one nostril. Ancient Indian Vedic treatises mention that when the process of breathing is happening through the left nostril, then peaceful, less energetic activities should be done. When the right nostril is dominating the breathing process, demanding and physical activities should be performed. The right nostril is said to be dominant when the sun rises in the morning and different hormonal reactions take place in the body. The left nostril is said to be dominant on going to bed at night. 

When both the nostrils are actively involved in the process of breathing (Sushumna), meditation or relaxing activities must be undertaken. 

In Yogic terms, Chandra, Surya and Sushumna are also called as ‘Nadis’. ‘Nadis’ are tubular structures corresponding to the veins and the arteries in the body. As per Indian texts on Yoga, Anulom Vilom helps cleanse the Nadis (arteries and veins) by increasing the level of oxygen in them. Hence, Anulom Vilom is also referred to as Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Shodhan meaning purification).3 

Also Read: Benefits of Bhramari Pranayama and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

Studies have revealed that the regular practice of Anulom Vilom may help ease your painful periods. This yogasana technique is known for its calming and relaxing effect that may alleviate pain and cramping during the menstrual cycle.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

How to do it? 

Any exercise must be done using the proper techniques so that injuries are minimized and one obtains the maximum benefit. The same applies to any pranayama as well. Any form of pranayama is a very powerful practice which must be learned and practiced correctly.1 

The steps to do Anulom vilom or Alternate nostril breathing are as follows: 

  • Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and keep the backbone erect and head straight. 
  • Take a few deep breaths and relax your entire body.
  • Now form the Jnana Mudra with your left hand and place it on your left knee. Jnana Mudra is formed by facing the palm upwards and joining the tips of the index finger and thumb. 
  • Fold the fingers of the right hand into Nasagra mudra. This is formed by folding the middle and index finger of the right hand. 
  • Now place these two fingers on the right nostril and fold the right little and ring finger. 
  • Keep the right thumb on the right nostril. 
  • Now breathe out through the left nostril. Now, inhale through the left nostril slowly. Next close the left nostril with the ring and small finger and open the right nostril by releasing the thumb. Breathe out through the right nostril. 
  • Then, breathe in through the right nostril. When inhalation through this nostril is over, close it and open the left nostril to breathe out. 
  • This is one complete round of Anulom vilom 
  • Repeat the same steps alternately for the two nostrils to complete 4 more rounds. 
  • Breathing during Anulom Vilom should be smooth, steady and in an unrestricted regulated manner. Anulom Vilom may be performed with or without kumbhaka, which means that you may or may not hold your breath in between the inhalation and exhalation. 
  • It is said that you may start doing this pranayama with kumbhaka after practicing Anulom vilom without kumbhaka for 6 months.3 
  • Those who are practicing Anulom Vilom for the first time should aim for equal duration of inhalation and exhalation. 
  • You may progressively increase the duration of exhalation to be twice that of inhalation, over a period of time.4 
  • In Hatha Yoga (the classic Indian text on Hatha Yoga authored by Swami Muktibodhananda5) the final ratio for Anulom vilom is advised to be 1:4:2, which means that inhalation should be for 2 seconds, kumbhaka (breath holding or retention) should be for 8 seconds and exhalation should be for 4 seconds.3 

From my experience, the ‘ida’ or ‘pingala’ nadis, or the channels, may be balanced with the use of this powerful anulom vilom pranayama by being able to clear poisons or radicals. This alternative breathing method may aid in the whole nervous system’s purification, hence may promote hair growth and health.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Benefits Of Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose) and How to Do it

Do You Know? 

Here are some interesting facts about Anulom vilom which will amaze you ! 

  • It is mentioned in the Hatha Yoga5 textbook written by Swami Muktibodhananda that the practice of Anulom Vilom purifies 72,000 delicate Nadis in the human body.3 

Benefits of Anulom vilom: 

Some of the potential benefits of Anulom vilom/ Nadi shodhan pranayama are: 

1. Benefits of Anulom vilom for blood pressure 

Anulom vilom may help to reduce the blood pressure significantly in people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart troubles caused by narrowing of the arteries. It reduces the neuronal activity related to adrenalin (a hormone released in the body during stressful, exhilarating or dangerous situations) and the resistance by the peripheral blood vessels. Thus, it helps readjust the autonomic nervous system (a mesh-work of nerves that controls blood pressure and heart rate, among other involuntary bodily processes).3 

It is said that breathing through the left nostril may reduce systolic blood pressure (the blood pressure in the arteries during one heart beat), diastolic blood pressure (the blood pressure in the arteries when the hearts rests between two heart beats) and the average blood pressure, thus alleviating high blood pressure. Breathing in through the right nostril might equalize the heart rate and bring the blood pressure to normal levels. It may be beneficial to reduce the morning as well as evening rise in blood pressure in those whose systolic pressure is between 120-139 mm of Hg and diastolic pressure between 80-89 mm of Hg (pre-hypertensives).3,6 

2. Benefits of Anulom vilom for brain 

In Anulom Vilom, the process of breathing starts from the base of the diaphragm at the pelvic girdle, on both sides of the lungs. The muscles of the diaphragm present in the chest and the supplementary muscle of respiration in the neck relax which in turn relaxes the facial muscles. This relaxant effect on the muscles of the face enables them to carry the same effect to the sense organs, namely the ears, eyes, tongue, nose and skin, without any extra stress on the brain. This reduced level of stress may help increase the concentration level and bring about greater stability of mind. It may improve memory power.  

Exhalations done during Anulom Vilom also has a relaxing effect on the brain and nerves. When Kumbhaka is performed along with pranayama, a sense of tranquility is produced in the mind. The controlled breathing in Anulom vilom may help increase blood flow to the blood vessels of the brain. 

The human brain is made up of two halves. The inhalation and exhalation during Anulom vilom help rejuvenate both the halves of the brain as well as the front and back side. The alternate pattern of breathing may help balance all the activities happening in different parts of the brain thus bringing about a sense of harmony and peace.3 

3. Benefits of Anulom vilom for the heart 

The steady, controlled breathing in Anulom Vilom may reduce the breathing rate as well as the rate of heart beats. It is said that the practice of Anulom vilom helps bring the heart under the control of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is a grid of intricate neurons known to relax the body after dangerous or stressful situations.3 

4. Benefits of Anulom vilom for respiratory tract 

The inhalation of air through the nasal tracts in Anulom vilom may help to clean the tract of the nose and the respiratory passages up to the lungs.7 It may provide relief from cough.4 It may help increase the strength of the lungs which might help keeping them free of any disease.3 

5. Other benefits of Anulom vilom: 

  • It may help improve moods and reduce anxiety levels. 
  • It may improve the functioning of the digestive system. 
  • It may function as a stress reliever. 
  •  Anulom Vilom may impart antioxidant properties which may kill the free radicals. 
  • It may be beneficial in combating depression.3 
  • It may provide instant rejuvenation and a sense of well-being.7 

The practice of Anulom vilom should be considered as the sole treatment protocol for any kind of health issues. If you are facing any health problems, please consult a qualified medical practitioner who will examine you and provide appropriate treatment. Also, it is recommended that you practice this pranayama under the guidance of a trained Yoga expert. 

Also Read: Benefits of Pranayama and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

It is a breathing method that facilitates the opening of congested nadi or energy pathways, which may calm the mind. With increased oxygenation and blood purification via alternate nostril breathing, the skin on the face may develop a glow naturally. Hence, I strongly recommend the regular practice of Anulom Vilom for flawless skin.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

Risks of Exercise 

Although there are no major contraindications for practicing Anulom vilom, it is advisable to not hold the breath (Kumbhaka) for too long as it may potentially turn out to be harmful.3 It is recommended to practice this method of breathing under the guidance of a qualified and experienced Yoga teacher. 


Anulom vilom or Alternate nostril breathing is a type of pranayama in which inhalations and exhalations are carried out through alternate nostrils. It is also called as Nadi shodhan pranayama as it is said to purify the arteries and veins (Nadis) of the body. It may be done with or without holding the breath (Kumbhaka). The right nostril symbolizes the Sun and hence breathing through it has a warming effect on the body. The left nostril symbolizes the Moon, so inhaling through left nostril has a cooling effect on the body. Anulom vilom is especially beneficial for the respiratory tract, the heart , brain and for people suffering from high blood pressure issues. 

Also Read: Benefits of Vrikshasana (Tree Pose) and How to Do it By Dr. Ankit Sankhe

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is Anulom vilom? 

Anulom vilom is a type of pranayama in which the right and left nostrils are used alternately to inhale and exhale. Hence, it is also called as Alternate nostril breathing.4This type of Pranayama has numerous benefits for the brain, heart and the lungs. It is especially touted to be useful in reducing the blood pressure.3 

What should be the duration of inhalation and exhalation if I am doing Anulom vilom for the first time? 

Those who are doing Anulom vilom for the first time should aim for equal duration of inhalation and exhalation. Gradually, as proficiency is gained, one may increase the duration of exhalation to be twice that of inhalation.4 

Can I do breath retention (Kumbhaka) if I am doing Anulom vilom for the first time? 

It is advised to do Anulom vilom kumbhaka only 6 months after you have been regularly practicing this pranayama without Kumbhaka. But it is advised to not do Kumbhaka for too long as it may turn out to be harmful.3If you are trying Anulom Vilom with Kumbhaka for the first time, it is advisable to do it under the supervision of a trained Yoga expert. 

Can Anulom vilom be done if one has a blocked nose? 

Anulom vilom is said to be beneficial in clearing up the nasal and respiratory passage.7So if one has a blocked nose, this pranayama may prove to be helpful. Yet, it is recommended that you consult your doctor who will assess your condition and advise you accordingly. 

Can Anulom vilom be done if one is sick? 

While there are no major contraindications to practice Anulom vilom, it is advisable to consult a qualified medical practitioner before you start practicing this breathing technique. More over, it is recommended that you practice Anulom vilom under the supervision of a Yoga expert. 


  1. Sengupta P. Health impacts of yoga and pranayama: A state-of-the-art review. International Journal of preventive medicine [Internet]. 2012 [cited30 August 2022];3:444-58. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3415184/pdf/IJPVM-3-444.pdf 
  1. Yoga: Its Origin, History and Development [Internet]. Mea.gov.in. 2022 [cited 30 August 2022]. Available from: https://www.mea.gov.in/in-focus-article.htm?25096/Yoga+Its+Origin+History+and+Development 
  1. Kanorewala B, Suryawanshi Y. The Role of Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) Technique in Regulation of Blood Pressure. Asian Pacific Journal of Health Sciences [Internet]. 2022 [cited 30 August 2022];9(2):48-52. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Yogesh-Suryawanshi-6/publication/359082264_The_Role_of_Alternate_Nostril_Breathing_Anuloma_Viloma_Technique_in_Regulation_of_Blood_Pressure/links/6226f36f97401151d205d2d7/The-Role-of-Alternate-Nostril-Breathing-Anuloma-Viloma-Technique-in-Regulation-of-Blood-Pressure.pdf 
  1. 21 June INTERNATIONAL DAY OF YOGA INTERNATIONAL DAY OF YOGA Common Yoga Protocol, Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) [Internet] 4th Revised Edition, May 2019. [Cited: 2022 Aug 30] Available from:  http://mea.gov.in/images/pdf/common-yoga-protocol-english.pdf  
  1. Hatha Yoga Pradipika. New Delhi: Sri Satguru publications; Available from : .http://buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/BDLM/toModule.do?prefix=/search&page=/search_detail.jsp?seq=133882 
  1. Prehypertension: A Little Too Much Pressure, A Lot of Trouble [Internet]. National Kidney Foundation. 2022 [cited 30 August 2022]. Available from: https://www.kidney.org/news/kidneyCare/fall10/Prehypertension#:~:text=Prehypertension%20is%20defined%20as%20a,blood%20pressure%20is%20too%20high. 
  1. Dhaniwala N, Dasari V, Dhaniwala M. Pranayama and Breathing Exercises – Types and Its Role in Disease Prevention & Rehabilitation. Journal of Evolution of Medical and Dental Sciences [Internet]. 2020 [cited 30 August 2022];9(44):3325-3330. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Nareshkumar-Dhaniwala-2/publication/345310834_Pranayama_and_Breathing_Exercises_-Types_and_Its_Role_in_Disease_Prevention_Rehabilitation/links/5fa2b5fd92851cc286937fcf/Pranayama-and-Breathing-Exercises-Types-and-Its-Role-in-Disease-Prevention-Rehabilitation.pdf 

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it is now more than a month that i am doing anolum vilom twice a day for ten minutes each time. my problem is that my right nostril is always partially blocked.During the practice the inhalation through this nostril is restricted and not smooth. Despite one month’s practice this nostril is not yet clear.Can any body give advice and guide.