New research is further confirming the positive effects of a meditative breathing practice. Research published in the Journal of Physical Education and Sports Management, examined the effects of a 6 week nadi shodhana pranayama breathing practice on cardiopulmonary factors. Nadi shodhana pranayama is also referred to as alternate nostril breath or channel cleansing breath. The alternate nostril breathing technique is a cleansing breath, where the practitioner alternates breathing through different sides of the nostrils. Scientists are now finding that many meditative breathing practices can lower heart rate, blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety. Many yoga practitioners believe that the alternate nostril breath practice works to balance the two hemispheres of the brain, and purify energy channels of the body.
Researchers studied 30 subjects who practiced alternate nostril breathing, for 6 weeks in daily 30 minute sessions. Measurements were taken examining heart rate, vital capacity, systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Vital capacity is defined as …“the breathing capacity of the lungs expressed as the number of cubic inches or cubic centimeters of air that can be forcibly exhaled after a full inspiration”.
Results indicated that vital capacity significantly improved in experimental group. Researchers also noted a significant decline in basal heart rate and systolic blood pressure.
Alternate nostril breathing practices should be recommended to aid in athletes in improving their vital capacity, controlling heart rate elevations, and lowering blood pressure. This breathing practice can also be beneficial in reducing stress, improving overall health, and reducing anxiety.
Simple Steps to Practicing Alternate Nostril Breath
- Sit in a comfortable seat.
- Close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through your left nostril, then close it with your ring finger.
- Open and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
- Keep the right nostril open, inhale, then close it, and open and exhale slowly through the left, this is one cycle.
- Repeat 10 to 15 cycles and notice the effects of this breath practice.