Significance of Nostrils in Breathing

Significance of Nostrils in Breathing nostril breathing

Breathing is something we do all the time, everyday but have you ever wondered that each nostril of ours has it’s own significance in determining the things that happen in our life. Each nostril breathing effects the states of our mind and body in it’s own way. There is a noticeable difference between the breath taken in from each of the nostrils.


Left nostril is called the moon nostril while right nostril is called the sun nostril. Breath from the left (moon) nostril is cool, soothing, passive, and feminine in nature, while the breath that flows from the right (sun) nostril is warm, energizing, active, and masculine.

The basic purpose of the Breathing techniques is to teach humanity the way of harmonizing the breath from each nostril with the nature of an essential life task to be accomplished. Some Amodern scientific research has been done on the mechanism of alternate nostril breathing dominance while breathing, but no attempt has been made to correlate these nostril changes with certain psychological and behavior effects. A study conducted by Dr. Vijayendra Pratap in 1971-72 had ninety-nine people observe nostril activity and record the results for two months. Dr. Vijayendra noted the condition of nostril activity each day at 3 hour intervals, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Most of the 99 observers were hospital patients. Statistical analysis of the data collected confirmed variable nostril dominance but could not be used to confirm the rhythmicity of change.

Dr. Pratap says: It is believed that it has something to do with sympathetic innervation. The air currents that pass through the nose stimulate certain parts of the olfactory nerve filaments, and consequently the olfactory bulb, which is an extension of the brain, allowing impulses to continue after a stimulus has ceased. It is possible that central mechanisms govern nostril breathing in order to maintain homeostasis of the organism. Thus air currents passing through the sun nostril influence excitatory effects, while those passing through the other nostril produce inhibitory effects.


It is very easy to find out which channel is open at any given time. Alternately block each nostril for a few seconds. The nostril through which breathing is easy and without strain is the side of the open channel.

Bhole paid special attention to the use of a Y-shaped crutch like instrument called a “yoga danda” for changing nostril breathing. Subjects were asked to place the yoga danda under an arm-pit and then lean over and press it between the chest and the arm. This position was maintained for approximately 15 minutes while the breathing force from each nostril was carefully recorded. Results suggested that the breathing force is increased in the nostril on the side opposite to the yoga danda and decreased in the nostril on the same side.


Yoga Danda for Nostril Breathing

In 1970 Rao and Potdar  investigated relative nostril minute ventilation in three horizontal postures. They found that in the supine posture, average minute ventilation was about the same in each nostril.

However, for the Right-lateral posture, with the subjects lying comfortably on a bed with the weight of the body borne on the lateral aspect of the thigh, temporal region, shoulder, and arm, average minute ventilation was greater through the Left-nostril. It was exactly the opposite of this in the Left-lateral posture. In short, the “up” nostril was always more active.

They concluded that though the nature of this mechanism was not yet very clear, the variation in blood flow through the nasal mucosa may account for the variations in relative nostril ventilation. Yoga texts say that if one is successful in gaining control over the change of breath from one nostril to the other and can bring about the change at will without resorting to any physical method, then one is said to be freed from destiny. Some also say that the tossing and turning that we do at night in sleep is nature’s way of maintaining the balance of the two forces in the human body.

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