Traditional practitioners of Anulom-Vilom sit cross-legged on the floor or at most on a carpet or a mat.
Sit on a Straight backed chair
But you may even sit on a straight backed chair to do Anulom-Vilom. The point is to keep your back and neck erect to ensure proper flow of air from the nose to the heart through the wind pipe.
Hold One Nostril Shut and Inhale
You start doing Anulom-Vilom by inhaling and exhaling normally once, to clear your wind pipe and nasal tract. This being done, you start with the first stage of Anulom-Vilom. Close one nostril with your finger and draw in as much air from the other open nostril by inhaling deeply for as long as you can. Moving your chin upwards while pulling in your cheeks would help to draw in maximum air within your lungs.
Hold Your Breath
Now move to the second stage of holding your breath and retaining the fresh air inside your lungs for some moments. The duration for such holding the breath would vary from person to person.
The third and last stage involves your releasing the first nostril and using your thumb or a finger to hold shut the second nostril while using the first nostril to breath out the air you have inhaled through a lengthy sustained exhalation. Exhale till you feel you have forced all the air you had inhaled.
Repeat this Cycle
This completes one cycle of Anulom-Vilom. Now you are ready to start the second cycle. This time breathe in through the first nostril and exhale through the second in a repetition of the cycle described above. You may have as many cycles of alternating between your two nostrils till you are comfortable doing so. There is no fixed number of cycles to be completed. This depends on your comfort level. If you feel like you may take a pause between two cycles.
Re-activate Your Dormant Heart Cells
The point in doing Anulom-Vilom is to bring the subconscious process of breathing into the realm of conscious and deliberate for getting the maximum quantum of oxygen to your heart and re-activating those dormant heart cells to function better. The result of this would be your feeling refreshed after the first few cycles of Anulom-Vilom. The change should also be reflected in your medical reports like Stress Test, Blood Pressure and Electrocardiogram. But results vary from person to person.
Ideal Place to Do Anulom-Vilom
The ideal place to do Anulom-Vilom is either a garden, or a balcony and the ideal time is early morning before traffic emission laden pollution can take over. Avoid doing Anulom-Vilom in a garden or near potted plants after sunset.
Also remember to take the advice of a Yoga Therapist before you start doing Anulom-Vilom. Those suffering from any heart or respiratory ailment like Asthma, Bronchitis etc should consult their doctor before starting with Anulom-Vilom.
Rationale Behind Anulom-Vilom
The rationale for doing Anulom-Vilom is our own psychology of ignoring the most crucial life sustaining resource – air. Do you ever remember feeling like having a good breath the way you feel pangs of hunger or thirst? Feeling hungry or thirsty is our body’s way of telling us to eat and drink. But for air the most critical life-sustaining resource, nature has made us in such a way that we subconsciously keep inhaling air without ever feeling a need to breathe consciously or proactively. So unlike the instincts of ‘hunger’ and ‘thirst’ there is no word in the English language for ‘wanting to breathe’!
This itself tells us a tale of how we are made by nature to sustain ourselves by taking in air subconsciously, while never ever feeling the need to breathe consciously and deliberately. Rarely if at all, when we feel breathless after a session at the Gym or after being for long in a stuffy room, may we feel like walking out for a breath of fresh air. But for these one off situations, taking in air within our self, unlike taking in food or water, is a subconscious activity which is always taken for granted.