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Anulom-Vilom Pranayama: A Novice’s Handbook

Anulom-Vilom is a sophisticated breathing technique that provides a lot of health benefits just like Kapalbathi pranayama. It is a technique known to balance the tri doshas - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

Anulom-Vilom provides numerous health benefits; but its effect on strengthening the nervous system is more prominent. Anulom translates in Sanskrit to “anu” which means with and “loma” means hair; “vi” means against or on the contrary. So Anulom means with the hair or with the grain and Vilom means against the grain. This breathing technique is basically an alternate nostril breathing technique and is similar to Nadi Shodhana; except that Nadi Shodhana involves a pause or breath retention and Anulom-Vilom doesn’t.

Anulom-Vilom plays as a huge role in purifying the nerves with oxygen and strengthening the ‘3’ Nadis (nerves) Ida Nadi, Pingala Nadi, and Sushumna Nadi (known as the left nose, right nose and middle part of the nose respectively in yogic science) which in turn awakens the rest of the nerves. Read on to learn how to perform this alternate nostril breathing and the benefits of doing so.

Anulom-Vilom Pranayama - A Novice’s Handbook

How to perform Anulom-Vilom?

  • Sit in padmasana (lotus position) comfortably in a peaceful environment.
  • Relax and rest your hand on your knees palms facing upward
  • Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril filling your lungs completely
  • Now exhale as you remove the thumb from your right nostril and close your left nostril with the middle finger and index finger.
  • Continue to breathe in deeply through your right nostril and as you exhale remove the middle finger and index finger from the left nostril and close the right nostril using the thumb.
  • As you exhale calm down your mind and ponder on how air is purifying the body.
  • Repeat this process for 5-10

If you’re a beginner, practice the closing and opening of nostrils using the correct technique before you go on to practice the pranayama and keep the ratio of inhalation and exhalation the same. To reap the benefits of this technique it must be practiced regularly for 15-20 minutes.

Anulom-Vilom Pranayama - A Novice’s Handbook

When to perform Anulom-Vilom?

  • It is best to perform after Bahya pranayama and before Bhramari pranayama.
  • When you are under a stressful situation this breathing technique can help relax the mind.
  • Before performing an activity that requires your utmost focus, Anulom-Vilom can help improve concentration.

Benefits of Anulom-Vilom pranayama

  • Promotes healthy circulation.
  • Helps calm down a busy mind and improves focus.
  • Helps ease stress and anxiety.
  • Bolsters the immune system.
  • Invigorates the skin and brings out a healthy glow.


  • Perform this technique based on your lung capacity.
  • It should be done on an empty stomach with a space of 4-5 hours between a meal and the practice of this technique.


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