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Hello! And welcome to Move Into Coherence. I’m your host, Pamela Stokes. In today’s episode I’d like to do a special kind of breathing which is called Alternate Nostril Breathing, and it comes from the practice of yoga.
There are different ways to do this, but the one that I’m doing is pretty simple as long as you remember you switch your nostrils just before the exhales. And that’ll be the key to remembering how to do this. Why would we do this Alternate Nostril Breathing? Well, what we’re doing is we’re bringing air into one side of the brain through the nostril that’s open, and then we’re switching and bringing air into the other nostril, which is the other part of the brain—the other half of the brain. And by doing this, we’re waking up both halves. This can be helpful to create more of an integration between the two halves of the brain. It’s been said that the left side of the brain is considered to be useful for more logical, and rational, and calculating tasks, whereas the right side of the brain is considered to be more artistic, and creative, and spontaneous. So if you lean towards one or the other, doing this breath can be helpful to bring air, thus oxygen, into the half of the brain that you maybe don’t use as regularly, so that can be very helpful. And in addition to that, we can also, by bringing air into both nostrils like this, we can allow for expansion. In Episode 11: Nose Breathing and Our Wellbeing, we learned that breathing through the nose is ideal because it allows for the air to be warmed, and moistened, and filtered. And it also—breathing through the nose—directs the air straight down to the bottom parts of the lungs where there are more capillaries and more alveoli, which are the little sacks that collect the air. So by doing this breath through the nose, we are increasing that possibility for oxygenating our tissues, as well as opening up the nasal passages. By bringing air through the nose, it combines with nitric oxide, which causes a dilation or an expansion of the nasal passages. So this can actually be very helpful for people with nasal allergies, sinus allergies, and that way you can allow your nasal passages to expand. When you do this, you may notice that one of the nostrils is more closed than the other, and it may be kind of a challenge to breathe through it fully. This is natural, and all throughout our day, we switch. Sometimes you’re breathing more through the right nostril, and sometimes you’re breathing more through the left nostril. Throughout the day it shifts, and this happens about every 90 minutes. So don’t be alarmed if it’s challenging for you to breathe through one of the nostrils, because that is normal.
[03:31] Alternate Nostril Breathing
So let’s get into it. The way that we do this, using one hand, we’ll be placing the ring and pinky fingers over one nostril and your thumb over the other nostril. The middle finger and the index fingers will rest on the space between your eyebrows. Begin by just inhaling through both nostrils. Then close the thumb nostril, and exhale out of the fingers nostril. Inhale through that same side, then close the fingers nostril, and exhale out of the thumb nostril. Inhale through that same side, close that nostril, and exhale out of the fingers nostril. Inhale through that same side, exhale out through the thumb nostril. Inhale through that nostril, switch, and exhale out of the fingers nostril. Inhale through that same side, switch, and exhale out the thumb side nostril. Inhale again through that same side, and switch, and exhale out of the fingers nostril. And, one more time, inhale through that same side, switch, and exhale out of the thumb side nostril. And then relax your hand, and come back into regular breathing, and notice how you feel. You may feel more relaxed. You may notice that perhaps your nasal passages are opening up, and there’s more expansion in there. Maybe you can breathe a little bit more clearly. Perhaps you even notice a calming effect, because when we integrate the brain—the right and the left halves—when we are integrating them, that sends a message through the nervous system everything’s OK. During a trauma response, the left side of the brain shuts down. The right side of the brain activates. And this is why it can be challenging to make sense of your life if you’re stuck in that trauma response. So doing this breath can really help to integrate both hemispheres of the brain together, and help to bring the left side back online, and to balance yourself out.
[06:31] Sign Off
Thanks for joining in today, and send yourself some appreciation for doing so. This has been Move Into Coherence. I’m Pamela Stokes. Take it easy.