Educator Self-Care Series: Relaxation Technique 2: Alternate Nostril Breathing
Welcome. This module introduces a second technique for managing stress and tension. We are going to practice breathing in a way that research has linked to lower heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure.
This way of breathing can calm and rejuvenate the nervous system. You may also experience increased mental clarity and alertness after using this breathing technique.
This particular strategy for relaxation is called alternate nostril breathing, and is done by closing off one nostril at a time to allow the breath to move in one side of the nose first, and then be exhaled out of the other, in alternation.
Practicing this relaxation technique is safe for most people, however if you have asthma, COPD or any other heart or lung concern, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first.
If for any reason while practicing this technique, you become dizzy or short of breath, just let go of the technique and go back to breathing normally.
Find a comfortable seated position again so that you can sit upright in a way that is relaxed.
Let your left hand rest on your left leg. Lift your right hand up toward your nose with the palm facing you. You can rest your thumb on your right nostril and the ring finger on your left nostril.
Take a deep breath in. Press your right thumb to your right nostril to close it, and with it closed, exhale the breath out the left nostril. Still with the right nostril closed, slowly inhale through the left nostril.
Use your ring finger to close off the left nostril and release the thumb from the right. Exhale the breath all the way out the right nostril. Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale slowly through the right nostril.
Then close the right nostril again with the thumb, release the ring finger from the left nostril, and breathe slowly out of the left nostril. Inhale through the left nostril, close it off, exhale out the right nostril. Inhale right… close it off… exhale left. Inhale left… close it off.
Exhale right… Inhale right… close it off… exhale left.
Now, continue breathing this way for up to five minutes. When you finish, release both hands down into your lap and observe the sensations of breathing normally, noticing how you feel after this slow and deliberate breath practice.