How are you doing with your New Year Resolutions?
I have a friend who is doing really well with hers. Its a bit unusual. She decided to take up alternate nostril breathing.
As the name suggests this is breathing through alternate nostrils. Usually the other one is held shut with your fingers. It’s a yoga technique and you can read a lot about which fingers you should use to shut the other side of your nose and the benefits of the technique.
There is no doubt it works. No one knows why. There is no scientific evidence for any of the effects (I’m not sure anyone has really looked).
It claims to calm you down, reduce stress, make you more mindful, stimulate your nervous system and reconnect the two hemispheres of the brain.
I’m not sure about the last two. The two hemispheres of my brain are connected quite well by the corpus callosum and doing anything stimulates your nervous system – that’s the point of it.
I suspect the other benefits might well be brought about by sitting quietly and thinking about your breathing – whether you are using one or two nostrils.
I ran a workshop on breathing last year. We didn’t do any fancy exercises, I simply explained how breathing works; what bits are designed to move etc. The participants managed to reduce their breathing rate from 12-14 breaths a minute down to around 4. If you understand how things work you can use them more efficiently.
Anyway – she is sticking to it and it is working for her and that is great.
The thing is – the body does it anyway. Experiments have shown that over the space of about 30 minutes, the body automatically alternates between which nostril is the predominate air intake route. You’ve probably never noticed it unless you have been lying on your side in bed with a cold. Eventually it gets easier to breathe.
When you do alternate nostril breathing you must spend sometime breathing through the nostril which isn’t the route of choice at that given moment.
Maybe if the body is doing it anyway there is something in it!