Breathing in balance

Breathing in balance


Alternate nostril breathing is one of my favourite ways to come back to balance quickly.

It has so many beneficial effects on us which I’ll share in this post.

I’ll also explain how to do it, and where you can access my guided MP3 for free.


The breathing technique to rule them all


Breathing is such a simple thing.

We don’t even have to think about it, yet are we actually breathing in an optimal way?

Half the time I think we are breathing too shallowly, or not taking enough deep, cleansing breaths.

I call it ‘breathing into the collar bones’ which results in much laughter. Yet it’s true!


Start with observation


Before we look at alternate nostril breathing, just take a moment to observe your breath.

How far down into the lungs do you think the air is getting?

Quite likely your abdomen isn’t going in and out (as it’s designed to when we breathe), and your shoulders and going up and down (another sign that you’re not taking the breath down into the lungs).

Place your hand on your abdomen, take a deep breath, and instead of lifting up the shoulders to accommodate the air, bring it down and feel your hand move as the abdomen expands.

As you exhale, your hand will lower as your abdomen shrinks again.

This is great to do if you can feel that you’re taking shallow breaths. It’s really common to do this during busy times, or times of heightened emotion. For people who suffer from anxiety, this is an all too common symptom.

DIvine Balance Australia relaxed breathing


Speaking of heightened emotion


When our nervous system is on red alert, the processing powers of the body are diverted to survival mode. Not digestion and elimination, the natural repairing and rejuvenation, and certainly not slow deep breaths.

We breathe quicker, the heart rate speeds up, the muscles contract, and our brain goes blank.

We’re literally ready for anything.

This is why it’s important to have tools to help us come out of these states, even just once a day at bedtime. Using tools as necessary through the day is more helpful to care for ourselves. But start small and work your way up.

Alternate nostril breathing is helpful because:

  • It brings results quite quickly
  • You don’t need anything outside of yourself
  • You can do it anywhere, anytime.


So many benefits


Alternate nostril breathing brings an instant focus to the body. This is particularly important for those who suffer from anxiety, because it results in a feeling of safety.

It’s also really useful for those whose minds are racing with future thoughts, or dwelling in the past.

When we concentrate on a complex breathing technique like alternate nostril breathing, it’s almost impossible to be off with the fairies. Which is beneficial when we are trying to come back to centre. It can feel counter-intuitive, which is where the complexity arises—but with practice, it’s very doable, and the benefits far outweigh the learning curve.

Alternate nostril breathing has been taught for thousands of years by numerous traditions. It’s a form of pranayama, and referred to as Nadi Shodan pranayama in the yoga community.

It’s said to help:

  • Stimulate the nervous system’s relaxation response
  • Reduce the heart rate and blood pressure
  • Clear the mind and balance both hemispheres of the brain
  • Tone the lungs
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Manage anxiety.


“I’m sold, how does it work?”



Here’s the technique to follow for alternate nostril breathing:

  1. Close the right nostril with your right thumb
  2. Breathe in through the left nostril
  3. Close the left nostril with your right ring finger and release the right nostril
  4. Breathe out through the right nostril
  5. Breathe in through the right nostril
  6. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and release the left nostril
  7. Breathe out through the left nostril
  8. Breathe in through the left nostril
  9. Close the left nostril with your right ring finger and release the right nostril
  10. Breathe out through the right nostril
  11. Breathe in through the right nostril
  12. Continue for at least a total of 12 rounds



Divine Balance Australia Breathing in Balance blog insert



When should it be done?


This practice can be done as energetic first aid to help come back to balance in stressful times. However the best results are when it’s used regularly and consistently.

It’s particularly good at bedtime for relaxing the entire system, and clearing the mind for a restful sleep.
It’s also a great way to start the day by toning the lungs and balancing the brain.

Because you might be thinking “I can’t read your notes AND practice at the same time Shelley!” I’ve created something for you.


Free MP3 to practice with


If you’d like to practice this technique with me talking you through it, sign up at this link, and I’ll email you the link to two MP3s:

  • One is more of a guide that talks you through the benefits in more depth, and explains the technique quickly. You’ll probably only listen to it once or twice.
  • The other talks you through the process in real time, and you can adjust the playback speed on your device to match your breath rate. It’s the one you can play over and over again until you get the hang of it.

Head to this link to receive your free MP3 downloads:


Work with us


If you want to experience what we have to offer, head to our Bookings page to choose the right option.

Best wishes for your return to balance, because we’re all here to shine our light into the world!

Shelley McConaghy
Divine Balance

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