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Switch Breath Has your child ever sat down to do a numbers task but just couldn’t seem to get “get her mind around it”?

Or, has she wanted to paint or play music and felt uninspired to do so?

Or, perhaps, your child could simply use an exercise to tone and strengthen the respiratory system and harmonize the nervous system?

If so, alternate nostril breathing (Anuloma Viloma), or “Switch Breath” could help.

Nostril Airflow & Hemispheric Influence

You can breathe through a single nostril and influence which side of your brain is dominant, thus meeting the kind of activity you wish to do with the side of the brain that is meant to do it.

The brain is divided into two hemispheres. The right side of the brain is responsible for creative thinking and non-linear activities while the left side is in charge of logic, numbers and facts.

We can observe which side is dominant by becoming aware of airflow in the nostrils. We can also influence brain hemisphere dominance by altering the flow of air through the nostrils and control breathing patterns for balanced energy and robust health.

Right Brain

The right hemisphere is stimulated by left nostril dominance (air flow is stronger through the left nostril). The right side is feminine, lunar, emotional, peaceful, and visual. We want the left nostril to be dominant when playing music, gardening, socializing and being creative.

Left Brain

The left hemisphere of the brain is activated when more air is flowing through the right nostril than the left. Right nostril (left brain) dominance serves us well when we need to work hard, focus, write and calculate. The left side is masculine, solar, rational, verbal and energetic.

Balance

When air is flowing evenly through both nostrils, we are in a state of balance.

Practicing “Switch Breath”, a simple exercise, for a few rounds every morning can help start the day in a balanced way. Practicing it as needed throughout the rest of the can help to manage moods and energy levels.

How to Switch Breath

Sit in a comfortable position, cross legs on the floor or in a chair. Sit up tall! You are doing important work taking care of your brain.

Take a few moments to let the mind settle while you watch your breath. Notice through which side of the nose you feel more air moving.

Rest the first two fingers of the right hand down onto the palm. The thumb is used to close the right nostril. The ring finger and pinky are used as one to close the left nostril. If this hand position is difficult to hold, it’s fine to use the thumb and first finger to close the nostrils. But regardless of hand dominance, use the right hand. (This sketch shows the mudra, but with the left hand).

Close the right nostril with the right thumb and breathe in through the left nostril.

Switch, closing the left nostril with the ring finger and pinky and exhaling through the right. Then, inhale through the right nostril.

Switch closing the right nostril with the thumb and exhale through the left nostril.

This is one round. Repeat this sequence for 3 to 9 rounds, then sit quietly for a few moments and enjoy the peaceful feeling!

Typically, the breath is retained after inhale, although this is not recommended for children or beginners. The classical ratio is: inhale 4 seconds, retain 16 seconds and exhale 8 seconds. You can add in brief breath retention as you become more familiar with the practice. Children may retain for a shorter count of 4-8 seconds, if at all.

Visual Reinforcement

While you practice, try to breathe smoothly and keep the whole body and face still and relaxed.

During the day you can simply breathe in and out through one nostril to activate the side of the brain appropriate to the activity in which you are engaged. As is described above, sit up tall, take a moment to become still and close one nostril while breathing evenly in and out of the other for 3 to 9 rounds.

Try Switch Breath with your family as a morning routine before breakfast for a week and see what happens.  Give it a go and let us know what you think on Facebook or Twitter!