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La respiration alternée, découvrez tous ses bienfaits

Alternate breathing, discover all its benefits

Alternate breathing, well-being breathing.

Alternate nasal breathing is a basic yoga technique that involves breathing alternately through one or the other nostril, alternately blocking them with your finger.

Do you know alternate breathing or Nadi Shodhana Pranayama? It is a breathing control technique (Pranayama) that helps reduce nervous system activity and blood pressure. This technique helps soothe the body and mind!
It is as calming as it is energizing. Whether you practice in the morning, evening or both, you will feel its many benefits.

Nadi Shodhana – alternate breathing, what does it consist of?

As its name suggests, it involves alternating breathing between the two nostrils. The alternation can be between 2 breaths (inspiration + expiration) or between inspiration and expiration. But we'll come back to that a little later. We will start by talking about the nasal cycle, because yes we have a nasal cycle, we do not breathe the same way from both nostrils.

The nasal cycle:
Throughout the day we alternate from one nasal cycle to another. Indeed, our nasal cavities alternate between a decongested – deflated state and a congested – swollen state. When one is in one state, the second is in the other. As a result, we mostly breathe from one nostril at a time, with the air circulating better and in greater quantity in the decongested nostril. This alternation or cycle lasts from 1 to 5 hours.

Modifying these cycles by controlling breathing allows you to rebalance, concentrate and thus calm the nervous system. In fact, Nadi Shodhana brings calm, relaxation and concentration. It's a great way to refocus before starting the day but also to calm down at the end of the day. Practiced before going to bed, it helps you fall asleep.

The technique :

We will offer you 3 variations of alternate breathing:
- an introduction
– alternate breathing
– counted alternate breathing + bonus: counted alternate breathing with a 1 to 2 ratio

First of all, here is the basic technique:
Start by getting into a comfortable position, with your back straight (cross-legged on the floor, sitting in a chair – even standing if necessary but it will be less comfortable).

For the position of the hands: Since a drawing is worth a thousand words, here is a diagram of the position of your hand (favor your strongest hand, right for right-handers, left for left-handers). The second hand will be resting on your thigh.
If the position of the fingers is uncomfortable, you can fold the ring finger and only use the little finger and the thumb.

Alternate breathing : the idea is to breathe one nostril at a time while blocking the second.

Introduction: (to make reading easier we will describe the technique using the right hand, for the left hand just reverse)

To become familiar with alternate breathing you can start by:

  • Close the right nostril with the right thumb: 5 breaths (1 inhalation + 1 expiration) with the left nostril then change to 5 breaths on the right by blocking the left nostril. To block the nostril, use the ring finger (see the second diagram a little further down)
    This is a sequence. You can repeat as many times as you deem useful.

Alternate breathing

Here is the “real” alternate breathing:

  • Close the right nostril with the right thumb: inhale deeply with the left nostril. The ideal is to breathe through your stomach (the stomach expands when inhaling and deepens when exhaling)
  • Block breathing by blocking the second nostril with the right ring finger without releasing the thumb, this transition lasts 1 to 2 seconds
  • Release the right thumb and exhale through the left nostril.

Repeat between 5 and 10 times (or more if you feel like it or need it). You can practice in the morning and/or evening or any other time of the day when you feel your mind racing.


Alternate breathing counted. Once you have mastered the alternate breathing technique, you can go a little further and count your breathing time.
The idea is to mentally count the time it takes to inhale and exhale for the same duration. If your inhale lasts for the time it takes to count to 5 then you exhale for the time it takes to count to 5.

For further :

  • It is possible to modify the inspiration/exhalation ratio, for example by doubling the exhalation time. If you inhale on 5 then exhale on 10.

It's up to you to try!

And the sinuses in all this?
Although the alternate breathing technique has many benefits, to benefit from it you need to be able to breathe! And so with the nose and sinuses cleared.
Find here our 5 natural tips for taking care of your nose and sinuses .