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The Research: Benefits of Left Nostril Breathing

Science of Pranayama

Pranayama is an exact science and part of Ashtanga Yoga.  As defined by Patanjali,  in the Yoga Sutras, Pranayama is the regulation of the breath or the control of Prana is the stoppage of inhalation and exhalation, which follows after securing that steadiness of the posture or the seat. The science of the techniques are based off path and direction that the breath flows through the body. Within the body, many currents of energy exists, and with the breath, that energy can be regulated, directed and controlled. Depending on desired benefits, different Pranayama techniques are utilized.

Discover the Benefits with Swami Sivananda

According to Swami Sivananda, author of The Science of Pranayama, sitting with your back straight, closing the right nostril, and taking long, steady breaths threw the left nostril is a very powerful pranayama practice. 

Swami Sivananda highlights several important advantages of left nostril breathing, including

  • Induce State of Calm and Relaxation: Reduces stress and anxiety.
  • Lower Body Heat: Helps cool down after physical exercise.
  • Improve Sleep: Aids those suffering from insomnia or disturbed sleep.
  • Enhance Mental Clarity: Facilitates clearer thinking and improved focus.

Scientifically Proven

The research supports Swami Sivananda’s claims that left-side nasal breathing can enhance mental clarity, promote relaxation, and improve sleep. In Scientific Studies, it was observed that left-side nostril breathing not only boosts spatial memory scores—demonstrating an average increase of 84% among trained groups compared to no change in the control group—but also specifically enhances performance in spatial cognitive tasks associated with the cerebral hemisphere opposite the active nostril. Furthermore, left nostril breathing positively affects cardiovascular health by reducing cardiovascular parameters and increasing vital capacity (VC) and peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR). These findings indicate that left nostril breathing can be an effective tool in managing daily stress and could complement pharmacological treatments for hypertensive patients, highlighting its benefits in improving cognitive function and cardiovascular health. Additionally, the research identified significant advantages in enhancing sleep quality.

Scientific Research — 1

Evaluation of the Effect of Left Nostril Breathing on Cardiorespiratory Parameters and Reaction Time in Young Healthy Individuals.

Source

Cureus [Cureus] 2022 Feb 18; Vol. 14 (2), pp. e22351. Date of Electronic Publication: 2022 Feb 18 (Print Publication: 2022).

Background

Pranayama, a yogic breathing practice, produces several physiological responses in healthy individuals. Hypertension is a critical and booming public health challenge all over the world. Yoga is one of the effective methods to reduce blood pressure (BP) and pulse rate (PR).

Primary Objective

To evaluate the effect of left nostril breathing (LNB) exercise on cardiorespiratory parameters and reaction time (RT) in young healthy individuals.

Conclusion

Left nostril breathing is associated with a decrease in cardiovascular parameters and an increase in VC and PEFR. This technique may be useful for putting up a fight against the stress and strain of daily life. This simple exercise may also be a beneficial adjuvant to pharmacological therapy in hypertensive patients.

Scientific Research — 2

Immediate effects of right and left nostril breathing on verbal and spatial scores.

Source

Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology [Indian J Physiol Pharmacol] 2008 Apr-Jun; Vol. 52 (2), pp. 197-200.

Abstract

The immediate effect of two yoga breathing techniques was assessed on verbal and spatial memory tasks, considered hemisphere-specific. Forty-five participants (24 males; age range 20 to 45 years (mean age 27.1 +/- 8.1 years) were randomly allocated to three groups (n = 15 each) and were assessed immediately before and after 45 minutes of three breathing practices i.e., right nostril yoga breathing, left nostril yoga breathing, or breath awareness as a control intervention. Spatial memory scores increased after left nostril yoga breathing compared to before (by 16 percent, P = 0.03, paired t-test).

Conclusion

Hence, breathing through the left nostril increased performance in a spatial cognitive task, corresponding to the cerebral hemisphere contralateral to the patent nostril.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Scientific Research — 3

Yoga breathing through a particular nostril increases spatial memory scores without lateralized effects.

Source

Psychological reports [Psychol Rep] 1997 Oct; Vol. 81 (2), pp. 555-61.

Abstract

Uninostril breathing facilitates the performance on spatial and verbal cognitive tasks, said to be right and left brain functions, respectively. Since hemispheric memory functions are also known to be lateralized, the present study assessed the effects of uninostril breathing on the performance in verbal and spatial memory tests. School children (N = 108 whose ages ranged from 10 to 17 years) were randomly assigned to four groups. Each group practiced a specific yoga breathing technique: (i) right nostril breathing, (ii) left nostril breathing, (iii) alternate nostril breathing, or (iv) breath awareness without manipulation of nostrils. These techniques were practiced for 10 days. Verbal and spatial memory was assessed initially and after 10 days. An age-matched control group of 27 were similarly assessed.

Conclusion

All 4 trained groups showed a significant increase in spatial test scores at retest, but the control group showed no change. Average increase in spatial memory scores for the trained groups was 84%. It appears yoga breathing increases spatial rather than verbal scores, without a lateralized effect.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Scientific Research — 4

Evaluation of the Effect of Left Nostril Breathing on Cardiorespiratory Parameters and Reaction Time in Young Healthy Individuals.

Source

Cureus [Cureus] 2022 Feb 18; Vol. 14 (2), pp. e22351. Date of Electronic Publication: 2022 Feb 18 (Print Publication: 2022).

Background

Pranayama, a yogic breathing practice, produces several physiological responses in healthy individuals. Hypertension is a critical and booming public health challenge all over the world. Yoga is one of the effective methods to reduce blood pressure (BP) and pulse rate (PR).

Primary Objective

To evaluate the effect of left nostril breathing (LNB) exercise on cardiorespiratory parameters and reaction time (RT) in young healthy individuals.

Results

Laughter yoga significantly improved the resilience levels and sleep quality of the experimental group (P < .05).

Conclusion

Laughter yoga can be used to improve the resilience and sleep quality of nurses.

Scientific Research — 5

Effect of Short-Term Practice of Left Nostril Breathing on Various Sleep Parameters in the Medical Students.

Source

International journal of preventive medicine [Int J Prev Med] 2022 Aug 08; Vol. 13, pp. 110. Date of Electronic Publication: 2022 Aug 08 (Print Publication: 2022).

Background

Various recent studies have reported that exclusive right nostril breathing (RNB) and left nostril breathing (LNB) has an immediate and sustained effect under various medical conditions. In the present study, we evaluated the effect of short-term left nostril breathing on various sleep parameters in medical students.

Results

Practicing LNB significantly lowered all the seven component scores (p < 0.05) and the global PSQI score in the case group (p-value < 0.0001), suggesting that this practice effectively improved the sleep quality in the individuals of this group.

Conclusion

Overall, this study suggested that exclusive LNB practice could serve as an important lifestyle modification that can be incorporated in the routine of medical students for improving their sleep quality.

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