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Relieve Stress with Alternate Nostril Breathing

Posted Mar 06 2013 9:51pm

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Photo of Tara Stiles by Beth Bischoff for  Slim Calm Sexy Yoga: 210 Proven Yoga Moves for Mind/Body Bliss

A Breathing Technique to Distract You from Diving Into the Cookie Jar

Are you a stress eater, routinely turning to food when life gets crazy?

You are not alone. We live in stressful times and many of us turn to food for comfort. For years I sought to calm myself with food whenever I felt overwhelmed by school, or work, or life. My favorite “food escapes” included Cheeze-Its, Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, peanut M&Ms, and Chips Ahoy cookies.

Of course, this behavior only contributed to my weight struggles.

But there is an easier, healthier alternative – Breathing. Especially, this technique, called alternate nostril breathing, which I discovered in a yoga class several years ago. It’s become one of my favorite non-food strategies for relieving stress.

Alternate Nostril Breathing Benefits

Alternate nostril breathing is one of the simplest and most user friendly relaxation techniques I know. It quickly helps calm a busy mind, soothe an overstimulated nervous system, lower heart rate and reduce stress and anxiety.

“This breathing technique will help you tap into the part of the brain called the insula, which is associated with cravings as well as moral intuition, creativity and empathy,” says  Tara Stiles , yoga instructor and author of  Slim Calm Sexy Yoga: 210 Proven Yoga Moves for Mind/Body Bliss . ”I find that it really helps calm everything down, starting with the mind and continuing down through the rest of the body.”

How to Perform Alternate Nostril Breathing

Sit cross-legged with your back supported either by the headboard or the back of the couch. Press your ring finger over your left nostril and inhale four counts through your right nostril. Then, close off your right nostril with your thumb so both sides of your nose are closed. Hold all the air for four counts. Release your ring finger and let all the air out of your left nostril for four counts. Reverse this pattern by inhaling through the left nostril for four counts, holding both closed for four counts and then exhaling out the right for four counts. Repeat this breathing pattern for three to five minutes—or until you’re desire to raid the cookie jar has subsided.

Here’s a Helpful Video Demonstrating Alternate Nostril Breathing

What’s your favorite non-food strategy for countering stress? I’d love for you to share it here.


Peggy Cappy
The Healthy Living Lounge
Yoga for Insomnia (Oprah)

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