The right is Pingala and has the energy of the sun: bright, fiery, awakening and male…
The Ida energy, on the left, is the moon energy: reflective, calming, cooling, female. Inhaling only through your right nostril will access the left “thinking” hemisphere of your brain, and inhaling only through your left nostril will access the right “feeling” hemisphere of your brain.
We compare these systems in our Western terminology as the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic system, Pingala, is the fight or flight system and charges you up in times of danger. The parasympathetic system, Ida, slows you down and helps your body automatically run its day to day jobs of digestion, elimination, sleep cycles and more.
Right Nostril Breathing (Pingala)
When you need to wake up or when you need clarity, focus, and more energy, try right nostril (Pingala) breathing. Simply take your left hand and with your fingers outstretched, block off your left nostril by putting gentle pressure on it with your left thumb. Be sure to keep the rest of your fingers straight and pointing up towards the sky; the fingers act like antennas for the “cosmic” energy that surrounds us all. With a long, slow, deep breath, gently inhale through your right nostril. Then, just as gently, exhale long, slowly and completely, again through the right nostril. Relax your body, feeling the energy smoothly and gracefully building and bringing new life into your body.
Note: Don’t do if you have high blood pressure.
Left Nostril Breathing (Ida)
When you need to calm down, when your mind is racing faster than a hurricane, or when you can’t go to sleep, try left nostril (Ida) breathing. Simply take your right hand and with your fingers outstretched, block off your right nostril by putting gentle pressure on it with your right thumb. Be sure to keep the rest of your fingers straight and pointing up towards the sky; the fingers act like antennas for the “cosmic” energy that surrounds us all. With a long, slow, deep breath, gently inhale through your left nostril. Then, just as gently, exhale long, slowly and completely, again through the left nostril. Relax your body, feeling the cool breath bringing new life into your body. Relax even deeper with each exhale as you breathe out all tension, all stress and all disease.
*Here’s an alternative rhythm you can use for left nostril breathing: Try breathing in through the left nostril as described using different “counts”. Inhale for 4 beats, hold the breath for 4 beats, and exhale for 4 beats
Benefits: are numerous including sharper, clearer focus of the mind and a deep, full relaxation or sleep. It is said in the yogic tradition, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, that if a person breathes through the left nostril for 31 minutes a day for 90 days (the time it takes to plant a new habit into the subconscious), they will naturally change their metabolism in favor of relaxation and weight loss. A good starting time is 3 minutes.