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Chandra Bhedana Pranayama- Left Nostril Breathing

As per the Vedic traditions the left nostril is associated with the Ida Nadi or nerve of the body which lies to the left side of the spine and goes to the left nostril activating the right side of the brain. This nerve is associated with the coolness effect and brings ‘rest-relax’ peace of mind. 

The word ‘Chandra Bhedana’ comprises of two words- ‘Chandra’ or Moon and ‘bhedana’ or piercing. Therefore, the literal meaning of this pranayama is the ‘piercing of moon’. 

The reason why this Pranayam is called chandra bheda is because this exercise calms the nerves with the cool energy which works to reduce the body heat of the body. This is opposite of Surya Bhedana pranayama in which the body heat is generated. Due to the opposite nature of the two exercises, the energies of the body remain balanced.

In the Left nostril breathing, the inhalation is done only from the left nostril while keeping the right nostril blocked and the exhalation is done only from the right nostril by keeping the left nostril blocked.

Chandra Bhedana pranayama is an effective way of bringing peace and calmness to mind as it has cooling effect throughout the body. The reduction in heat of the body is useful in controlling heartburn, acidity and other digestive issues. It is also helpful in maintaining a balanced energy flow in body. 

Care shall be taken to observe all precautions before and during its practice.

Steps to Practice

Follow the steps in the given sequence to perform Chandra Bhedana pranayama…

1/7. Sit down on the floor, chair or any flat surface in cross-legged position comfortably. It is not necessary to sit in Padmasana. You can also sit in normal Sukhasana. However, please be mindful of keeping the spine straight but relaxed in this pose. The maximum effect of this pranayama is gained by keeping the spine straight but without any tension in muscles.

2/7. Get one of the hand fingers in Mrigi mudra. This is the mudra in which the index and the middle fingers are folded down to touch the base of thumb in the palm. The thumb and the pair of ring and little fingers are used for closing the nostril.

The other hand shall rest on the knee, preferably in Gyan mudra. This is the pose in which the tip of thumb and tip of index finger just touch each other. These shall not be pressed.

3/7. Prepare to remain mindful of the whole breathing exercise. You have to remain mindful and witness and experience the breath being inhaled, retained and exhaled from the body.

4/7. Using the hand in Mrigi Mudra, block the right nostril using either thumb or the pair of little and ring fingers. Inhale slowly from the left nostril. Inhaling shall be done effortlessly and the attention shall be drawn inward to witness how air is filling in the stomach and the lungs, making these bulge.

5/7. Once inhalation is done deep, the next step is to hold it. In this step, you have to block both the nostrils with the hand in the Mrigi mudra. Some of you might not be able to hold on to the breath. It is okay. For the beginners, it is not necessary to hold the breath. There is no specific time limit for holding the breath. You have to do it so long as it can be done comfortably.

6/7. The next step is of exhalation of the breath from the right nostril while keeping the left nostril blocked with hand. Exhalation shall be done slowly and completely. There will be compression in belly and lungs region as the air is thrown out of the body through the right nostril. This shall also be done without any stress.

7/7. The cycle of inhalation-holding-exhalation shall again be repeated.

For attaining the best results from this pranayama, it is suggested to take note of some of the essential points. One is being mindful with focus completely on the breath. Do not let distractions waver this focus. 

Time duration of practice

Left nostril breathing or the Chandra Bhedana pranayama can be done for a period of 5 minutes. You might need a few cycles in beginning to get into the right mould for doing it. Therefore, 5 minutes is a minimum time frame for doing at least 11 cycles. 

One important point to note is that the time element shall not weight heavily in mind. You have to dive deep into the practice, without worrying about the time element. 

Benefits of Chandra Bhedana Pranayama

Some of the major advantages of Chandra Bhedana Pranayama are…

1/6. Since it is believed to decrease the body heat, it is useful in conditions when there is a need to reduce the level of excitement or agitation in the body. One such instance is when there is heartburn sensation in the body.

2/6. This is one of the most effect pranayama for people having hypertension problem. The people with high blood pressure can immediately feel relief if they practice it for a few cycles, with mindfulness slowly building in as the practice progresses.

3/6. It is also said to be helpful in reducing the body temperature in case of fever. While it does not cure the underlying cause of the fever, it can certainly help in reducing temperature somewhat.

4/6. Steadiness of mind is achieved with the practice of this breathing exercise. The steadiness of mind is possible with its regular practice because you also learn to be mindful. 

5/6. It activates the Ida Nadi which is brings peace and calmness to mind, and also helps in better regulation of the nervous system.

6/6. It is said to be effective in preventing stress, anxiety and depression among the people and makes them live life in a positive manner. 

Precautions/Contraindications of Chandra Bhedana Pranayama

1/3. Since it lowers the body heat, it shall not be practiced in situations where the body heat is already low. Such times could be winter season or when the person already has low blood pressure. It is also not suggested that it be practiced for too long a period of time. 

2/3. Similarly, in cases of Asthma or cough and cold, it shall be avoided. 

3/3. Though many experts suggest the ratio of time duration of inhalation, holding and exhalation to be 1:4:2, it may not be possible for the beginners to achieve it. So, there is no issue if this time is not being maintained. The essential part is to retain the focus on the breath.

[1] Surya Bhedana Pranayama- Right Nostril Breathing.

[2] The Nasal Cycle and how alternate nostril breathing restores the Balance.

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