Throughout the day, we alternate the main nostril we breathe through. And both are good - in their own way. Our left nostril can help us to manage stress, create calm and focus amongst others. And the right one can help us increase our energy, get us a bit more alert and enhance the efficiency of our digestive system
Left nostril breathing stimulates our rest and counters the effects of stress
Left nostril breathing can activate our parasympathetic nervous system, in short: our rest and restore system. It can help us to lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate and enhance or get the body ready for sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping, feeling stressed out, overwhelmed and emotionally unbalanced - try to gently cover your right nostril and breathe calmly in and out through the left nostril. If you are having the habit of waking up in the middle of the night, see if you can reflect which nostril is active, and if it is not the left - take some deep breaths here.
The right nostril increases our energy and the metabolic processes
The purpose of the Right nostril breathing is to increase the physical energy and to revitalize the body. It can increase the efficiency of the digestive system, also boosts the nervous system, especially the sympathetic nervous system, and is of great importance for our metabolic processes. Right nostril breathing can increase our body temperature and is very effective to increase life force (prana) in the body. Effective for depression, low energy and managing high levels of stress as well as reducing anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.
Left nostril & right brain and vice versa
Research also suggests that each nostril is linked to the opposite hemisphere of the brain, i.e the left nostril increases blood flow to the right side of the brain. Since the right side of the brain stimulates creativity, intuition and emotional intelligence this might be enhanced. The right one also has its benefits - logical thinking for one.
Strengthening diaphragm and respiratory muscles as well as toning the vagus nerve
We can strengthen our respiratory muscles by practicing breathing with single nostril breathing. Nose breathing naturally creates a little bit of resistance to the breath, which in turn slows down the rhythm of our breathing. And the same way you strengthen your muscles by working out with for example resistance in the form of weights, here we strengthen our diaphragm and respiratory muscles. The resistance also improves the efficiency of oxygen uptake by our muscles and organs, which is beneficial for improving athletic performance.Plus stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system response, through toning the vagus nerve. More on that one later.
Calm the mind and create awareness
There are so many beneficial and great techniques when it comes to breathing. In the parasympathetic as well as in the sympathetic nervous system. They differ for sure, but all conscious breathing helps us to practice awareness. And, balancing left and right can help us work on blockages in our energy channels. Awesome!
Fun fact: left nostril is also referred to as cooling 'moon' energy via ida nadi (one of the major energy channels)
Right nostril is Pingala Nadi, or surya/sun nadi and is related to solar energy.
Great breathing excercises you can easily practice at home
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING - Nadi Shodhana
Alternate Nostril Breathing is a wonderful breathing to help calm the mind and relax the body with deep and slow breathing.
Close your index- and middle finger on your right hand into your palm, leaving your thumb, ring- and pinkie finger free. You take the thumb and gently close the right nostril, to then breathe into the left nostril. Slow inhale, count to 4. Hold the breath on the top, shift so the ring finger closes the left nostril, and exhale through the right nostril and count to 4. Inhale through the right, hold, shift again. And so on. (in left, shift, out right, in right, shift, out left…) When you feel the resistance decreases, try increasing the counting, i.e prolong the inhale and exhale.
You improve oxygen levels and allow the energy and lift force (prana) to flow freely. The left side of the brain is for common-sense analytical thinking and logic. The right side is for sense and creativity. By alternating, and oxygenating, both sides of your brain, it is said to improve brain function. Slower, deeper breathing techniques usually bring you down from your head and help you focus on being present.
Great before bedtime. Gets you to connect with your body and your breathing with the intention of taking your mind away from the thoughts that may keep you up at night. Helps to relax and rebalance the parasympathetic nervous system and promote a state of calm.
Exhale all air completely through your mouth, making a “swhoosh” sound. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a swhoosh sound to a count of eight.
Personal favorite sleep-well-breath-hack
When you are in bed, head on the pillow and all done. Gently cover your right nostril and take 10-20 deep breaths through your left nostril. Why should you not try that super easy hack?