I’d like to say that this type of breathing is a wonder for any experience of overwhelm, stress or anxiety.

Whether you’re someone who gets supremely stressed, deals with daily anxiety, or is just struggling with the usual up as and downs of life, alternate nostril breathing is one of my all time favourites for bringing calm, and fast.

Secondly, it’s just kind of fun and I love the fact that it includes some physical contact with ones body. It’s an opportunity to by mindfully physically comforting towards one-self.


To manage difficult feelings we need two things in our brain working concurrently. Left and right brain functions.


What that means is that we need to be able to feel and think at the same time.
Feelings are not our enemy, they give us so much wonderful data, needed for knowing who we are, what we need, and make life kinda fun at times too.


But without that left brain to keep us grounded with a bit of rationale we can easily get lost.


When we get lost in tricky feelings, we can get a bit flooded by chemicals such as cortisol. Cortisol is the bodies drug for doing and dealing with life generally getting us motivated to act. We need it! But it’s also one of the stress hormones that, with adrenalin, can actually cause more stress feelings, rather than that aaaah, calm, that we’re looking for.

When your hearts racing a bit, and your breaths a bit shallow, and you feel overwhelmed and discombobulated, reach for the nostrils and find a bit of peace for yourself.


So here’s Alternate Nostril Breathing, improve your left right brain connectivity and collaboration, and lower cortisol in about 2 minutes.


How it’s done

Sit comfortably.

Begin by taking longer deeper breaths.

If you’re really anxious focus on the out breath, make it as long and slow as you can.

The in-breath will take care of itself.

*If you’re panicking this might not be the right practice for you. See my other articles on managing panic states.

Looking at your right palm (or left of you’re left handed).

Separate the pointing and middle fingers from the ring and little finger.

Place the pads of the pointing and middle finger between your eyebrows.

The thumb and ring finger are now either side of your nose.

Play around for a moment getting used to keeping the pointing and middle finger in position.

Use the thumb and ring finger to alternately open and close each nostril, as well as hold both closed.


Once you’ve got the hang of that we can begin.


Always start with the left nostril.

Close the right nostril and breathe in through the left.

Then close both nostrils and hold for a second or two.

Release the breath slowly out of the right nostril.

Breathe in through the right nostril.

Close both nostrils.

Hold for a second or two.

Breathe out through the left nostril.

Breathe in though the left nostril.

Close both nostrils.

Hold for a second or two.


Keep repeating this loop, out and in on each side with a hold of both nostrils in between.


You’ll want to try and keep the breath as slow and steady as possible.

In-breaths and out-breaths should also be as equal in length as possible.

See if you can begin to slow each in breath, out breath and the holds in between a little longer, but only go as far as feels comfortable, the breath should not become ragged, forced or too uncomfortable.

Try to keep the throat and jaw relaxed.

Keep going for a few minutes.

Regular practice is great at contributing to developing longer more intentional breathing, and remember, deeper longer breaths = a calmer, healthier autonomic nervous systems!


Research has shown this breathing pattern can lower cortisol in a matter of minutes. So this is a great tool too if you feel at all triggered.

Happy Breathing

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