Despite the fact that we all breathe on average 23,000 times a day, many of us are unaware of the unharnessed power that lies in such a simple task.
You may have come across tips on how to avoid shallow breathing, or be conscious that slower breaths are beneficial to calm anxiety, but did you know that you can also access different hemispheres of your brain, tap into your creativity or improve your digestion through this simple act?
Sophie Andrews, the Founder of The Meditation Hunter, has used breathwork and nostril breathing to overcome a decade of burnout – below she talks about the surprising effects simple breath techniques can have on our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
What is Nostril Breathing
Breath techniques have a long history in ayurvedic medicine and yoga and have an amazing ability to impact multiple areas of health. ‘We all know that meditation is a key to stress relief but we lead such busy lives that the thought of sitting and doing nothing for even a few minutes a day just leads to more anxiety and racing thoughts about the never ending to do lists in our heads.’
Benefits of Left Nostril Breathing
Left side breathing is great for calming the mind, easing cravings, reducing blood pressure and aiding insomnia. According to yogic tradition if you breathe through the left nostril for 31 minutes a day for 90 days your metabolism will change in favour of relaxation and weight loss. Since the left side of the body is associated with the right-brain hemisphere, this technique can also allow you to access the creative side of your brain.
Benefits of Right Nostril Breathing
When we are busy at work our right nostril will typically be more active. The right side of our body is connected to the left-brain hemisphere which is our thinking and logic side. Breathing through the right side stimulates and energizes the body – it boosts our nervous system, increases the efficiency of the digestive system and is great for activities that require willpower. Ideal if you are wanting more focus and clarity, it can however increase body temperature so be careful if you already have
high blood pressure as this can increase your heart rate.
How to Nostril Breathe
Sit in a comfortable position and place your middle and pointer fingers together between the eyebrows with your thumb gently pressing on your right nostril. Close your eyes and allow the thumb to close to nostril then inhale slowly through the left nostril for the count of three, then exhale slowly for the count of three. Repeat for 3 minutes initially and build up time once you are comfortable with the practice.
If you are wanting to try right nostril breathing, use the ring finger to gently close the left nostril and reverse the practice above. If you want to calm yourself even more and improve concentration then try making the exhale slightly longer than the inhale.
These are simple breathing techniques that you can do anytime and anywhere no matter how busy your life is.