Rejuvenate your mind:

 Your nose is exceptionally clever. Simply by practicing a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing (pranayama) for a few minutes each day, you can help restore any imbalances in your brain. You can improve sleep, encourage a calmer emotional state, boost your thinking power and soothe your nervous system.How impressive is that!

Another interesting fact about your nostrils, is that you do not breathe through them equally all the time. Right now, you will be favoring either your left nostril or your right nostril.

Left nostril for calming - Right nostril for energy:

Your nose is directly linked to your brain and nervous system. The Indian yogis believe that many diseases can be linked to disturbed nasal breathing which, I'm guessing, is why they perfected pranayama breathing thousands of years ago.

Breathing in, only through your left nostril, will access the right "feeling" hemisphere of your brain, and breathing in, only through your right nostril, will access the left "thinking" hemisphere of your brain.    Consciously alternating your breath between each nostril will allow you to activate and access your whole brain.   Now, I'm sure that's a very handy piece of information to know.

Yogic Breathing, the Perfect Relaxation Tool:

Alternate nostril breathing is something I first learnt about through yoga, many years ago, and then from Ayurvedic medicine. It is one of the simplest and most utterly user friendly relaxation techniques that I share at my retreats and workshops.    It helps greatly to calm a restless mind.

I encourage you to start today with an easy purifying breath practice-I've shared all the steps with you below.

You might also like to read more about alternate nostril breathing (pranayama) by starting with a great book called The Little Book of Yoga Breathing; Pranayama Made Easy.

12 Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing:

1. Revitalizes you:

A few rounds of alternate nostril breathing is a quick pick me up if you are feeling flat, tired or even stressed. It provides your body with a much needed dose of extra energy.

2. Improves brain function:

When your mind is dull-concentration and clarity is poor. Alternate nostril breathing brings equal amount of oxygen to both sides of the brain for improved brain function.   Five minutes of alternate nostril breathing before an exam or interview is a great way to access your whole brain for improved performance.

3. Cleanses your lungs:

A daily five minute practice morning and night of alternate nostril breathing is a great way to remove stale air and impurities from the bottom of your lungs.

It wasn't until I started reading the The Tao of Natural Breathing by Dennis Lewis that I discovered something I did not know. 70% of our body's waste products are eliminated via our lungs.

4. Calms an agitated mind:

I am prone to worrying. A few minutes of focused alternate nostril breathing is helpful (for me) in calming my "over thinking"mind.   The ancient yogis believe that if you can regulate your breath, then you can control your mind.

5. Merges the left "thinking" brain and right "feeling' brain:

Alternate nostril breathing optimizes both sides of your brain so you can access your whole brain, and all the benefits that go with it.

The flip side of course is, single nostril breathing can be used to activate, just the left "thinking" or just right "feeling" side of your brain for specific situations. 

Try it out next time you need to drive your car. Cover your left nostril with your thumb and breathe only through your right nostril for one minute. This should keep you more alert when driving.

6. Encourage a calmer emotional state:

In times of emotional distress and upset, a few rounds of mindful nostril breathing will soften the intensity of over reactive  emotional states.  The longer you practice, the more stable your thinking, and the calmer your emotions will become.

7.  Improves sleep:

If you cannot sleep at night lay on your right hand side, gently close your right nostril and breathe through your left nostril. This will allow you to access the right hemisphere of your brain which is calming.

8. Great preparation for meditation:

Alternate nostril breathing is a simple little trick that can be practiced for a few  minutes before you begin your meditation practice.  It is a very easy way to help you find your meditation groove.

9. Soothes your nervous system:

By focusing on your breath and deepening it, your brain will register this message  and trigger the parasympathetic nervous system.  You have effectively switched your nervous system from a stressed response, into a relaxation response.

Single left nostril breathing (by closing your right nostril) will direct the flow of oxygen and energy to the right hemisphere of your brain, allowing once again, for the parasympathetic nervous system to be switched on.  Gosh, your breath and nose is very clever.

10. Regulates the cooling and warming cycles of the body:

Left nostril is feminine, nurturing, calm and cooling. Right nostril breathing is masculine, heat, competitive and force.  Favoring one nostril more than the other can affect the heat or coolness of your body.

11. Clears and boosts your energy channels:

Slightly forced alternate nostril breathing improves and directs the flow of energy throughout your body- preventing sluggishness.  It oxygenates your blood and allows the energy (prana) in your body to be strong and flowing.

12. Enhances rest and relaxation:

A restless mind cannot relax.   Alternate nostril breathing melts away an imbalance between the right and left hemisphere of your brain and calms your thinking.  This is perfect for helping you access rest and relaxation far more efficiently.

An Alternate Nostril Breathing Exercise -Purifying Breath:

Step 1: Use right thumb to close off right nostril

Step 2: Inhale slowly through left nostril

Step 3: Pause for a second

Step 4: Now close left nostril with ring finger and release thumb off right nostril

Step 5: Exhale through your right nostril

Step 6: Now, inhale through right nostril

Step 7: Pause

Step 8: Use thumb to close off right nostril

Step 9:  Breathe out through left nostril

Step 10: This is one round. Start slowly with 1 or 2 rounds and gradually increase.  Never force. Sit quietly for a few minutes after you have finished.

There are many, many different techniques of pranayama such as inhaling for 4, holding for 4 and exhaling for 4.

Caution:  Do not hold your breath if you have high blood pressure. More advanced methods of pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) need to be practiced with an experienced practitioner. Practicing on an empty stomach is preferred.



I just made this soup last night and it is delicious, creamy and full of flavor without dairy. Leeks are in season locally now, I used mine from my garden.

You can add the beans for extra protein or omit them. I did not puree the soup, I left it chunky.

Total Time:  40 minutes

Prep Time:   20 mins

Cook Time   20 minutes

8 Servings


1 TBL. olive oil

4 leeks, white and light green parts, sliced

4 garlic cloves, chopped

4 russet potatoes, peeled, cubed

4 cups vegetable broth ( I used chicken)

1 (14 ounce) can white beans, drained ( I cooked up 2/3 cup dry cannelloni beans)

1 tsp. fresh rosemary

salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a 4 quart pot.

2. Sauté the sliced leeks about 5 minutes or until slightly tender.

3. Add garlic and sauté another minute or so.

4. Add potatoes and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes and leeks are quite tender.

5. Add beans, rosemary, salt and pepper and more broth, if necessary.

6. Puree until smooth, using an immersion blender or in small batches in a regular blender. if necessary, return to heat until warm enough.