The Benefits of Anuloma Viloma (Pranayama)

Anuloma Viloma is a popular pranayama, and it is also my favorite of any pranayama that I have learned to date. This can be used as a part of meditation practice, a yoga practice, or on its own. I had a friend who taught private yoga sessions who shared she would often use this pranayama on the way to see clients in her car if she was feeling nervous about the session. I began to use this practice too, and I found it to be incredibly helpful!

Anuloma Viloma is alternating nostril breathing. It is meant to be done using the Vishnu Mudra with the right hand. This mudra has the middle and index fingers resting on the pad of the palm. We use our thumb to control our right nostril and the pinky and ring fingers to control the left nostril. It is also meant to be practiced using a certain ratio. Always beginning and ending the practice on the left nostril, we breathe in for four counts, we retain our breath for 16 counts, we exhale on the opposite side for eight counts, and continue by inhaling for four counts on the same side you have just exhaled from. This process goes on for a predetermined amount of time or count of breaths. To bring the most benefit, it is beneficial to have either a timer or some way to track the number of breaths, i.e., mala beads placed on your left hand. 

Pranayama means to control the life force – the breath. Any pranayama is beneficial in stimulating the flow of energy (prana) within the body and connecting our awareness to our breath. This particular pranayama appeals to many who experience anxiety or other extreme emotions.

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Anuloma Viloma is said to purify the nadis or the left and right energy channels. These nadis intertwine and travel throughout the body from the Muladhara (root) chakra up to the Ajna (brow or third eye) chakra. The left channel is the Ida nadi. It is related to feminine qualities, including emotion, cold, and water. The right channel is the Pingala nadi, related to masculine qualities like action, heat, and the sun. These nadis reach through the left and right nostrils.

Often, people may notice during the practice of Anuloma Viloma a blockage in either nostril. This may indicate a blockage in that energy channel. By using this pranayama, we can purify these channels and restore balance to them. This can manifest in more harmony in your feminine and masculine qualities and energies.

The process of alternating the breathing, encouraging the prana to move throughout the nadis, stimulates the circulation of these vital opposing Ida and Pingala energies. This moves throughout the body from the Muladhara chakra upward, twisting through and additionally energizing each other chakra.

I believe this pranayama to be one of the most beneficial due to its balancing properties. It is my go-to pranayama if I am feeling an imbalance in my thoughts, body, energy, or in my actions and behaviors.

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