How to Practice Right-Nostril Breathing (Surya Bhedana)

Welcome energy & warmth to your practice with right-nostril breathing (Surya Bhedana)

There are many breath techniques (Pranayama) that are used in yoga for various effects. One practice that is especially well suited for the winter months is right-nostril breathing, or Surya Bhedana – also known as Sun Piercing Breath. In yoga tradition, this technique is believed to stimulate the Sun energy channel, and it can be used to energize and warm the body.

According to yogic tradition, the right nostril is called Surya or Pingala Nadi and is associated with energy and activity, and the left nostril is called Chandra or Ida Nadi, which is associated with rest. Selectively breathing through a specific nostril is believed to influence the flow of prana or life energy in the body and create specific effects and benefits.

For example, according to this article, right-nostril breathing may help to improve physical performance and cardiovascular health. It also may help to clear the sinuses, activate the sympathetic nervous system, aid in weight loss, and awaken Kundalini energy. In Ayurvedic tradition, it is thought to help balance the Vata Dosha.

How to Perform Right-Nostril Breathing:

  1. Sit in a meditative pose, such as Easy Pose (beginner) or Lotus Pose (advanced).
  2. Bring your right hand to your face and close the left nostril with your ring finger.
  3. If you wish, you may also partially close the right nostril with your thumb, but those new to this practice may wish to skip this and add it later once you are comfortable with the technique.
  4. Expel all air from your lungs with a deep exhale.
  5. Inhale smoothly and deeply through the right nostril, filling the lungs completely with air.
  6. Close the right nostril with your thumb.
  7. Hold the breath as long as is comfortable (optional; beginners may wish to practice without holding the breath at first, and then add this step later)
  8. Release the ring finger from the left nostril and exhale fully.
  9. Repeat steps 2-8, blocking the left nostril, inhaling through the right nostril, and then exhaling through the left, for 8-10 rounds or 3-5 minutes.

While this technique is generally safe for most people, it is not recommended for those who are ill, those with high blood pressure, epilepsy, or anxiety, or who are currently experiencing acid reflux or indigestion. It is also recommended to avoid this practice during hot weather, and best to avoid before bedtime as it may cause difficulty sleeping.

Learn more about Surya Bhedana at


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