Various breathing techniques can be useful for chronic illness as a quick, no-cost means to temporarily manage breathing symptoms. I would like to discuss alternate nostril breathing. Alternate nasal breathing is a breathing technique, in which you alternate exhaling and inhaling between one nostril and the other. It has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine and yoga as a means to harmonize both hemispheres of the brain resulting in a balanced physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

Some purported benefits of alternate breathing include:

  • It reportedly relaxes you and lowers blood pressure; in this respect, it decreases anxiety, stress, and worries.
  • It improves respiratory strength and endurance; in this respect, it enhances lung functioning.
  • It improves our focusing. 

Practicing alternate nasal breathing is quite simple, although there are subtle variations to how it can be done. In simplest terms, this involves using the fingers from one hand to gently close one nostril, while you are inhaling with the other nostril. After you have inhaled with the open nostril, then you very briefly close both nostrils, gently close the previously opened nostril and exhale with the other nostril. After you exhale, you will inhale with the same open nostril and repeat the process. This can be done multiple times per day for just a minute or two at a time.s


Finding Joy with an Invisible Chronic Illness highlights four different breathing techniques, including the Buteyko breathing method.  

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