Below is the second video in a series of breath visualization videos I have created. This particular video explores alternate nostril breathing with a visualization of the wind channels and simple arm movement. Please review my prior deep breathing practice article and video here for more information on deep breathing and to gain comfort with the preliminary practice.  In this practice, the practitioner shifts arms between breaths as a way to further sharpen concentration and gain greater access to the left and right hemispheres of the brain.  In the Indian traditions, a mudra with the right hand is formed over both nostrils however, I draw my inspiration from Tibetan teachers and use alternating hands because I believe it engages the practitioner more fully.  Included in this video is a visualization of air or “wind” moving through the channels by taking it (air) into one nostril and expelling it out the other. I have provided written instructions for the practice below the video:

Alternate Nostril Breathing Visualization for Profound Support

Instructions (refer to the animated video above):

To begin this practice find a comfortable seated position on a cushion on the floor or in a chair.  Tilt the chin slightly forward to allow for space in the back of the neck and the direct flow of air from the lower belly to the top of the head.

Imagine or visualize (eyes opened or closed) three straws (channels) running through the center of the body lengthwise.  The straw (channel) beginning at the right nostril is red and the straw beginning at the left nostril is white (see image above for reference).  These channels begin at the opening of the nostril and travel up towards the crown of the head where they bend or curve downward to pass by the nose and end below the navel in the lower belly.  These channels attach to each other in the lower belly and are intersected by a wider dark blue-black straw (central channel) that runs from the lower belly to the crown of the head.

Begin by taking a nice deep breath in and expelling air completely through the nostrils.  Note: It is recommended that you gain proficiency in the deep breathing through both nostrils visualization practice here

While expelling the air on a count of 8, fluidly and slowly following the count move the arms towards the center of the body with the left elbow forming a right angle and the right elbow resting on the palm of the left hand.  The right index finger is pointed and pressed against the left nostril to block the passage of air.  

Breathe in through the right nostril on an even count of 8 (8-second count if possible. If not, adjust the count to suit your abilities)

Hold the in breath for 4 counts (2 counts if 4 is too long) and while holding fluidly separate the arms and move them back towards the center of the body this time with the left elbow resting on the right arm.  The left index finger will end up pushing the right nostril closed.

Breathe out of the left nostril for 8 counts.

Hold the out breath for four counts.

Breathe in through the left nostril for 8 counts. (continue pushing the right nostril closed)

Hold the in breath for 4 counts and while holding fluidly separate the arms and move them back towards the center of the body this time with the right elbow resting in the palm of the left hand.  The right index finger will end up pushing the left nostril closed.

Breath out of the right nostril for 8 counts.

Hold the out breath for 4 counts.

Breathe in through the right nostril for an even count of 8.  

Hold for 4 counts and switch sides breathing in through the left.

Repeat 10x or for several minutes if you’d like.

Complete this practice by performing three deep breaths in and out of both nostrils to a steady count of 8 by visualizing the air coming through the two straw-like channels situated at the opening of the nostrils.  The air continues moving up the channel to the top of the head where they turn through the bend and make their way to the lower belly where they meet the central dark blue channel. Hold the in breath for 4 steady counts and imagine the air transferring into the central dark blue channel and moving up to exit through the top of the head in 8 counts. Hold the exhaled breath for four counts and begin the in breath cycle again.

After completing 3 deep breaths return to your natural breath rhythm for a minute or more or begin your meditation practice.  

Resources of interest:

Robert Thurman

Yogi Acharya Lama Gursam

I am a licensed Counselor and Psychotherapist in Tucson, Arizona. I am a long time (22+ years) practitioner of meditation and postural yoga. I know first-hand the exploration potential of mind-body practices. I received my Bachelor's degree in Humanities and Philosophy from Shimer College and my Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Adam's State University. I also completed a 2 year certificate program in contemplative psychotherapy at the  Nalanda Institute.  My interests include developing and optimizing mind-body practices for my clients and helping other therapists gain a better understanding of how to use these practices in a mental health setting.  I've studied with some thoughtful and generous teachers in the fields of psychotherapy, philosophy, and contemplative practice (primarily Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Yogis). 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>