Why would we do this? What a strange concept, and yet so very basic. We know whether we are right handed or left handed, but do you know if you are right or left ‘nostriled’?
Our bodies prefer one side to another in everything we do, and it is the responsibility of yoga to bring ourselves back to a ‘balanced’ self, physically, literally, and of course, spiritually. And while the spiritual self takes time to balance, the physical side is relatively easily remedied. We can cause disease by breathing through one nostril constantly, and it follows then that we can cure disease by balancing the breath through both nostrils. I am not getting into curing disease now, not that I am even an expert on that. I do know that what was an annual event of sneezing, coughing, fever, chills, etc., the whole NyQuil thing…has not shown its evil presence to me in about 10 years. Let me not curse myself with the evil eye, but I feel that I must give credit where it is due. It is due, yes, to alternate nostril breath.
Basic diretions are below, the ratio can be alternate to various effect. Today however, we deal with only the basic.
Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Do this to the count of four seconds. 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 seconds. Inhale through the right nostril to the count of four seconds. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through the left nostril to the count of eight seconds.
Try it for around nine rounds, but build that number slowly, never forcing, never struggling. Definitely, no gasping for air. Make it a part of your everyday breathing practice. Allow it to build your immunity, allow it to calm your thoughts, and bring that extra spring in your step.