Anulom Vilom


In today’s busy lifestyle, stress and anxiety are the two common issues faced by all that

affects health. What if we get a simple and easy solution for that? Practicing Yoga is a  simple solution which can be practiced anywhere (at the comfort of your home or even on your office chair). Anulom Vilom Pranayama (an Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique) is an easy, powerful and widely practiced yoga asana that is known to help reduce stress and anxiety and helps to boost overall health.

What is Anulom Vilom?

In Sanskrit, “Anulom” means “with the grain” or “natural,” and “Vilom” means “against the grain” or “unnatural.”  Anulom Vilom Pranayama therefore means “breathing in a natural and unnatural pattern.” Anulom Vilom also known as Alternate nostril breathing exercise or Nadi shodhana pranayama, is not just a yoga asana but a technique that involves controlling ‘Pranic energies’ of our body flowing through specific channels. The most important and subtle form of prana in our body is our breath. Anulom Vilom involves conscious regulation of breath by inhaling through one nostril while keeping the other nostril closed. Breathing helps to regulate the blood circulation and thus helps the organs in the body to function properly. The vital energy flows through our body by means of Chakras, and these chakras can be activated by practicing pranayama. Regular and consistent practice of Anulom Vilom, helps in eliminating the free radicals and toxins inside the body, improves respiratory system, regulates cardiovascular health, purifies the nervous system – thus bringing mental calmness and peace.

How to do it?

Below are the steps to perform Anulom Vilom Pranayam.

  1. Make sure that you sit in Sukhasana, Padmasana, or any comfortable position in a quiet and soothing place.
  2. Keep your spine erect and upright.
  3. Make a Vishu Mudra (fold the index and middle finger inward) using your right hand. Now close your right nostril with the thumb and exhale completely through the left nostril.
  4. Inhale through your left nostril and hold for 4 counts.
  5. Then close the left nostril with the ring and little finger making sure that both the nostrils are closed. Hold your breath for 8 counts. ( People with cardiac problems, high blood pressure and pregnant females are not recommended to hold their breath while performing Pranayam. They should just inhale and exhale throughout.
  6. Keeping your left nostril closed, inhale through the right nostril to a count of 4.
  7. Keep both the nostrils closed and hold your breath for 8 counts.
  8. Slowly release your fingers from the left nostril, while keeping your right nostril closed and breathe out completely counting till 8.
  9. This entire process is taken as one round.
  10. Repeat the cycle, this time start inhaling from the right nostril. Continue for 5-10 minutes or as comfortably. Slowly try to increase the counts of inhalation and exhalation.

Do you know ?

Regular practice of Anulom Vilom is known to purify 72,000 delicate Nadis in the human body (as mentioned in the Hatha Yoga textbook – by Swami Muktibodhananda).

Benefits of Anulom Vilom

Here are few of the many benefits offered by regular practice of Anulom Vilom.

  1. Strengthens your respiratory system

Lungs are an important part of the respiratory system. Many studies have stated that yoga asanas which involve breathing exercises help to improve the functioning of the lungs. A study done in 2013 states that regular and consistent practice of Anulom Vilom for 30 minutes every day helps to reduce the symptoms of sinus inflammation.

  1. Improves Cognition

Regular practice of Anulom Vilom is known to improve cognition by improving the oxygen supply to the brain. Thus it boosts metabolic, psychophysiological and neurocognitive functions in healthy individuals. It also increases focus and concentration.

     3. Reduces the occurrence of migraine and headache

Anulom Vilom pranayama is said to reduce the frequency of migraines and headaches. Consistently and regularly practicing Anulom Vilom for at least 15 minutes every day is seen to reduce the pain caused by headaches and migraine arising due to stress and tension.

  1. Helps to reduce stress and anxiety

Stress is the cause of various health diseases. Anulom Vilom involves deep breathing exercises and improves a sense of self awareness. It is known to activate the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest and digestion. This in turn helps to regulate the heart rate, normalize blood pressure and reduce the production of cortisol – a stress hormone.

  1. Improves cardiovascular health

Anulom Vilom is known to have the ability to lower the blood pressure and improve blood circulation, thus improving cardiovascular health. It is also said to help in lowering the elevated cholesterol levels and thus keep the heart healthy.

  1. Boosts immunity

Making Anulom Vilom a part of your daily routine helps to reduce inflammation and increase the production of immune cells inside the body. It thus helps to enhance the immune system by boosting the natural defense mechanism of the body which in turn keeps illness at bay.

  1. Promotes digestion

Anulom Vilom pranayama stimulates the digestive system and improves absorption of nutrients. It is also known to reduce digestive problems like constipation, bloating and indigestion.

Precautions to be taken

Though Anulom Vilom can be practiced anywhere and by anyone and is a safe yoga asana, it is better to follow certain precautions while practicing it.

-  If you are a beginner, start training and  practicing Anulom Vilom under the supervision of a qualified yoga instructor.

-  For best results and to obtain full benefits, it is better to practice Anulom Vilom early in the morning on an empty stomach.

-  Pregnant women or people suffering from hypertension and asthma should consult a doctor before practicing Anulom Vilom. They should just alternately breathe in and out and should skip the retention of breath.

-  Avoid practicing Anulom Vilom if you have a congested nose.

-  Immediately stop performing this asana if you find it difficult to breathe or feel uncomfortable.

-  People who cannot sit comfortably on the floor due to arthritis, joint pain or due to any other reason, can practice Anulom Vilom sitting in a chair.

-  Like any other yoga asana, Anulom Vilom should not be practiced in a hurry. Make sure that the breath is slow and steady and balanced (not too deep nor too shallow).


Anulom Vilom pranayama is a simple but powerful asana that can help to boost the respiratory system, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall health. It is an easy and safe breathing exercise which can be practiced by all. But to understand the correct technique and avoid any problems, learn Anulom Vilom from a certified yoga trainer. It is always recommended that you start slow and then gradually increase the number of rounds. As you become well versed with this technique and by being consistent, you can experience all the benefits of this ancient yoga posture. Be patient and practice.