goodbye overwhelm, hello calm!

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I’ve been fascinated for quite a while with how stress affects my body, and with all the incredibly simple things I can do to change that. One of the practices which is right up there on my list of amazingly simple ways to relax yourself, is alternate nasal breathing or ALB.

It’s a cleansing and calming yoga practice, which recreates the natural alternating nostril breath pattern which should happen over the course of the day, but which happens less and less frequently as our bodies age and become more diseased.

This is how it’s done. Hold your right hand in front of you, with your palm towards your face. Block your right nostril with your thumb and inhale slowly through the left nostril. Then move your thumb away, and block the left nostril with your little finger, exhaling through the right side. Once you’ve exhaled, breathe back in through the right side, keeping the left blocked, and then exhale through the left, with the right side blocked. Repeat this for as long as you can, with a breath rate of around 5 per minute. Ideally you do it for at least 15 minutes, but I often use it as an emergency manoeuvre where I do it for about a minute, and it brings pretty much instant calm.

Because it’s almost impossible to really think about anything else while you’re doing it, ALB becomes a meditation in itself. As with all relaxation techniques which involve slow deep breathing, ALB has an instantaneous effect on your heart rate, slowing it down, by stimulating your parasympathetic, or calming nervous system. There is a bucket load of research out there on the practice, and how it affects your nervous system and your cardiovascular system, but something which interests me is the idea that the effects are not just temporary. They are at their peak in the first 15-30 minutes following practice, but there is evidence to suggest that if you practice long term, then your parasympathetic nervous system is essentially trained to become more dominant.

That sounds like a dream come true to me…a sea of calm! I’m going to perform an independent study on myself, and see what happens. I’ll keep you posted!

Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT

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20 thoughts on “goodbye overwhelm, hello calm!

  1. I learnt the hard way how stress affects the body. 2+ years later I am still trying to fix the damage (long story). I have heard of and done the technique you describe – once! It was when I did a six week beginner’s yoga course. It was quite effective! I have been slack and not continued with yoga as I was trying during 2014 to do too much. This year I must make room for it because I do love it and it has enormous health benefits! x

  2. Meditation is important and something I think many of us don’t do often enough. I like the sounds of this idea because I do struggle to clear my mind.

  3. I’ve never been able to crack meditation thus far and think that’s why I love alternate nostril breathing because like you say it’s almost impossible to think of anything else! The instant calm is quite amazing! I always do it while sitting outside on my special bench (it’s just a normal bench really) with my bare feet on the grass. Love it! 💗

  4. Sounds intriguing! I just tried it though and my right nostril is semi-blocked which didn’t help (stupid hayfever has been acting up lately which is a sign of my stress levels in itself …). I will give it a go though when I can breathe properly!

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT x

  5. I’ve just tried it! I like it. It’s very calming. I’ll definitely keep this one up my sleeve. Thank you. I needed this.

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