Breathing and Moving for Physical and Mental Well-being - Part 3

Joanne Lockhart
Oct 24, 2022 11:42:12 AM

Anxiety can only take hold if you let it. You can take control by becoming knowledgeable on some methods that can help you. Keep reading to discover a toolkit of practices that hugely benefits your physical and mental well-being.

Part 3: Alternate Nostril Breathing


Right Nostril Breathing

It stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and the left hemisphere of the brain. It is a good practice if we are sluggish mentally and feeling withdrawn or depressed. It's great if we are about to do something which requires a lot of physical energy or motivation. 

It wouldn't be great if you were experiencing anxiety due to its lifting nature.

How?

Close off the left nostril and breath in and out through the right.

Left Nostril breathing

It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system in the right hemisphere of the brain. It's an excellent practice to calm the mind and physical body if it is feeling overactive/overstimulated. Suppose one is displaying aggressive or impulsive behaviour, to name a few. In that case, it can alleviate hypertension and anxiety and relieve fatigue.

It would not be suitable for someone who was depressed, withdrawn, low in motivation or lethargic.

How?

Close off the right nostril and breath in and out through the left.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

  • Balances the two hemispheres of the brain 
  • Balances the Autonomic Nervous System
  • Lowers heart rate and oxygen consumption and reduces stress and anxiety
  • It is great to practice before meditation as we are not too yin and not too yang!

How?

First, close the right nostril off and breathe through the left nostril for 2-3 breaths. Repeat with the other nostril.

Inhale through the right nostril, close it off and exhale through the left nostril. Keep repeating, constantly inhaling through the nostril you just exhaled from.

It is best to start this practice on the left nostril when the nostril is dominant, i.e. you can feel the breath coming out of the left nostril most dominantly. To shift this to the left, if it is on the right when you want to practice, lie on your right side for a minute or so, and it should open the left nostril.

Short breath holds

If we have too much CO2 in the system, which we may have if we have been anxious, the breath will speed up potentially making us more anxious. Practicing short breath holds means we develop a healthy level of tolerance for CO2 which may stop this happening.

How?

Inhale for 2-3 breaths, hold for 2-3 breaths, exhale for 2-3 breaths, and hold for 2-3 breaths. Follow this to regulate yourself with 1:2 breath so that it doesn't induce anxiety further.

I wouldn’t recommend breath holding if you are in a moment of anxiety.  It’s more of a regular practice to help prevent anxiety.

 


For more details about yoga for mental well-being, you can contact YogaJo's here!

Joanne runs an advanced 300 Hour training for qualified yoga teachers which will build your skills as a yoga teacher to allow you to work skilfully and appropriately in both group and 1:1 sessions with those who may be suffering with their mental health.

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