Anuloma viloma pranayama benefits and precautions

Anuloma Viloma pranayama research benefits and precautions step by step

Anuloma Viloma
Alternate Nostril Breathing

Preparing for Anuloma Viloma:

1.Raise the right hand. Make the Vishnu Mudra
by folding down the index and middle fingers.

2. Close the right nostril with the right thumb and
exhale completely through the left nostril.

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How to do Anuloma Viloma:

1.  Inhale completely through the left nostril, keeping the right nostril closed with the right thumb. This can be done by counting up to  “4” mentally.

Pranayama anuloma viloma Subodh Gupta
Pranayama anuloma viloma Subodh Gupta






2.Release the right nostril and exhale completely to a count of “8”, counting mentally.

Pranayama yoga by Subodh Gupta
Pranayama by Subodh Gupta






3. Inhale fully through the right nostril to a count of “4”.

Pranayama yoga by Subodh Gupta
Pranayama by Subodh Gupta






4. Release the left nostril and exhale completely to a count of “8”.

Pranayama anuloma viloma Subodh Gupta
Pranayama anuloma viloma Subodh Gupta


This is one round. At least 10 rounds should be practiced daily. As you become more advanced, the “count” of the exercise may be increased, but always in a ratio of 1-2.
This means that for every second that you inhale, exhale for twice as long. Never change the ratio. You may also increase the number of rounds of Anuloma Viloma, which is practiced.

Benefits of Anuloma Viloma:

Physical benefits

1.        Anuloma Viloma cleanses and strengthens the lungs and entire respiratory system and balance the nervous system.
2.        As exhalation is twice the time of inhalation, stale air and waste products are drained from the lugs.

Mental Psychic benefits
1.        Anuloma Viloma helps to calm the mind, making it lucid and steady.
2.        It makes the body light and the eyes shiny.

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Research on Pranayama

“Pranayama increases grip strength without lateralized effects,” Raghuraj P; Nagarathna R;  Nagendra HR;Telles S of the Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore,  India, in the Indian J Physiol Pharmacol, 1997 Apr, 41:2, 129-33.


The present study was conducted to determine whether breathing through a particular nostril  has a lateralized effect on hand grip strength. 130 right hand dominant, school children between 11 and 18 yrs of age were randomly assigned to 5 groups.

Each group had a specific yoga practice in addition to the regular program for a 10 day yoga camp. The practices were: (1) right-, (2) left-, (3) alternate- nostril breathing (4), breath  awareness and (5) practice of mudras. Hand grip strength of both hands was assessed initially and at the end of 10 days for all 5 groups.

The right-, left- and alternate-nostril breathing groups had a significant increase in grip strength of both hands, ranging from 4.1% to 6.5%, at the end of the camp though without any lateralization effect. The breath awareness and mudra groups showed no change.

Hence the present results suggest that yoga breathing through a particular nostril, or through alternate nostrils increases hand grip strength of both hands without lateralization.

Common Mistakes:
1.        Back is not straight.

2.        The breath is not smooth.


(1)Beginners should only try simple anuloma viloma without breath retention.

(2)It is strongly advised that these exercises should be learned in the presence of an experienced yoga teacher only.


Additional info on Pranayama

Pranayama simply means control of breath.

Pranayama is the 4th stage in Patanjali’s eight stage Yoga discipline. Two Sanskrit words: Prana and Ayama are combined in one word Pranayama. Prana means life and Ayama mean control. Therefore, Pranayama is the control of life.

Prana is the Energy or Life Force that is universal in nature and it is omnipresent. A portion of that prana is present in the human body. It flows at a superficial level to maintain the body and its organs. Ayama means expansion or stretching. When we used the two together in word Pranayama it means the extension and control of the breath.

Breathing is the most important function in our body but it is the most neglected one. Learning to control our breath allows us to control our body chemistry. Awareness and control of the breath also allow us to control our emotions. Mastery of the breath is vital to our spiritual growth. Pranayama is a form of breathing exercise and works as the supreme aim of spiritual awakening in yoga.

Breath is the life force that sustains life. When the breath stops, life ends. Normal breathing uses only a fraction of our potential respiratory capacity. Pranayama helps to control this life force in an extraordinary way to get the tremendous benefits. It brings benefits such as increased energy and perception, and development of various brain faculties. Pranayama purifies the channels that will carry the increased prana to some areas of the brain.

It is very important that the channels be purified first to cope up with the increased energy created by Pranayama. The goal of Pranayama is to increase the quantum of the Life Force (Prana) so that it can reach out to recesses of the brain. This helps in expanding the human faculties and retarding degeneration.

There are 3000 pores in the lungs of a human being. By breathing normally only 300-500 pores are utilized and, therefore, the immunity of our body decreases. 

Harmful addictions and bad habits make our body weak and decrease immunity and thereby bacterial growth develops in the closed pores and increases the chances of diseases like tuberculosis or asthma. 

But when you take a deep breath the closed pores get opened. As a result, their efficiency increases and blood gets pure. Your mind becomes also pure and more concentrated with the practice of pranayama. Pranayama develops memory, physical and mental strength.

Always breathe through the nose, not through the mouth with the awareness. As you breathe in, know that you are breathing in. As you breathe out, know that you are breathing out. This will greatly enhance your general health and well-being. Breath is life in itself and each in-breath brings the gift of life and each out-flowing breath can be a natural release of tension and negativity.

The Life Force lies as dormant potential energy called the “Kundalini”. It resides at a center which is found just above the genital area, called the “Mooladhara Chakra”. This Prana flows from the “Mooladhara” center up along the right side of the spinal column into the center which lies at the top of the spinal column, which is called the “Ajna Chakra”. The prana gets distributed to the whole body through a different set of nerve channels so that it reaches every atom of the body.

A Yogi measures the span of his life not by the number of years but by the number of his breaths. Vital capacity is the capacity shown by the largest quantity of air a person can inhale after the deepest possible exhalation. We usually take 15
breaths in a minute. This way counting the total number of breaths comes to 21,600 times per day.
Most people breathe but using only a small part of their lungs capacity. The breathing is shallow depriving the body of oxygen and prana which leads to disharmony in the body. The abdominal breathing called also diaphragmatic
breathing is the most natural and efficient way to breathe.

There are many reasons for using the Diaphragmatic Breathing:
With each diaphragmatic breath, the abdominal organs are massaged, they are stimulated and invigorated. This alternating squeezing and relaxing action helps pump the blood through the organs of the abdomen and helps in moving waste through the intestines.

The lungs are pear-shaped, with the narrow end pointing upwards. This means that with chest breathing, only the narrow top part of the lungs are used, rather than the larger deeper recesses accessed during diaphragmatic breathing.

Due to gravity, the lower recesses of your lungs have a richer supply of blood pumping through them, and thus are better suited to efficient exchange of gasses during respiration.
Less energy is required to breathe with the diaphragm muscle than with the chest muscles.
Shallow chest breathing never empties the waste products from the deep recesses of your lungs where they accumulate and stagnate. Whenever possible breath diaphragmatically!

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Lie down flat on your back and relax your whole body.
Observe your spontaneous breath without controlling it for a while.
Place your right hand on your abdomen just above the navel, and the left hand on
your chest. As you breathe try to notice whether there is more movement in the abdomen or the chest.
Your right hand should move up with inhalation and down with exhalation.
The left hand should not move with your breath (though, at first your chest may
move slightly).
Try to take your breath down deeper and deeper into the lungs so that you feel the
abdomen lifting as you breathe in and falling as you breathe out.

Gradually, you should notice the abdomen moving more firmly, and the chest moving less.
As abdominal breathing becomes easier to you, try to let your breathing become slower, deeper and smoother.
Try to relax as much as possible.
This is the breathing that you should use at all times, while at rest or at work.
Practice it until it becomes natural and unconscious.

There are 4 important aspects of Pranayama:

1. Inhalation called Pooraka
2. Exhalation called Rechaka
3. Internal Breath Retention called Antar Kumbhaka
4. External Breath Retention called Bahir Kumbhaka

The most important part of Pranayama is breath retention called Kumbhaka. In order to perform the breath retention correctly, the practitioner must develop a gradual control over the function of respiration. At the beginning, the more emphasis are given to inhalation and exhalation in order to strengthen the lungs and balance the nervous system in preparation for retention of breath.

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The human framework is comprised of 5 bodies called sheaths, according to Yogic Physiology:
1. The food & material body (Annamaya Kosha)
2. The vital energy body (Pranamaya Kosha)
3. The mental body (Manomaya Kosha)
4. The psychic body (Vijnanamaya Kosha)
5. The transcendental body (Anandamaya Kosha)

The Annamaya Kosha is the gross physical body, which is composed of the elements of the physical world. It consists of five elements: birth, grow, change, decay and death.

The Pranamaya Kosha is the astral body, which is composed of the five organs of action and five vital energies: prana, apana, samana, udana and vyana. It experiences: hunger, thirst, cold and heat.

Prana (in this context does not refer to cosmic prana) governs the area between the larynx and the top of the diaphragm, and it is associated with the organs of respiration and speech. It is the force by which the breath is drawn inside. Apana is located below the navel and provides the energy to the large intestine, kidneys, anus and genitals. It is concerned with getting rid of waste from the body.

Samana is located between the heart and the navel. It controls the digestive system: stomach, liver, pancreas and intentines and activates the heart and circulatory system. It is also responsible for distribution of nutrients. Udana controls the area above the neck. It activates the sensory receptors: eyes, nose, ears and harmonises the limbs, their associated muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints. It is also responsible for the erect posture. Vyana pervades the whole body. It regulates and controls all movements and coordinates the other prana.

The Manomaya Kosha is the astral body, where anger, lust, depression, doubt, delusion are its working. Its constituents are: the mind, knowledge and subconscious.

The Vijnanamaya Kosha is the astral body with the function of discrimination and decision making. It consists of intellect (which analyses) and ego.

The Anandamaya Kosha is the causal body where the joy, bliss, peace and calmness are experienced. It consists of samskaras (subtle impressions of all lives lived) and karma.

Prana & Lifestyle
The flow of Prana in your body is affected by your lifestyle such as physical activities, work, sleep, food and sex. Your emotions, imagination or the thoughts can affect the pranic body even more. The stress also deplete the pranic flow and then you may experience being totally drained of energy.

The breath is the most vital process of your body. If a person is engaged in deep thinking, relaxation or meditation, the breathing will be slow and steady. If the person is affected by negative emotions, the breathing will become fast, unsteady and irregular.

The slow breathing is very important for increasing the human life span!

From the observation of the animals, the Ancient Yogis & Rishis noticed that the animals with slow breath rate (elephants, tortoises, pythons) have long life span and the animals with a fast breathing rate (dogs, rabbits, birds) live only for a few

A slow breathing rate keeps the heart stronger and better nourished and leads to a longer life. By deep breathing we increase the absorption of energy, enhancing our vitality and general well-being.

More info on Yoga Research 

Issued in public interest by Subodh Gupta Celebrity Yoga Instructor in Chelsea, Kensington London

Subodh Gupta is the author of numerous books on yoga, weight loss, and stress management. He has been interviewed by various TV channels and his views and articles appear regularly in magazines and newspapers in India and the UK.

Subodh Gupta is Indian palm reader and conducts stress counselling sessions in London for celebrities.

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