Preksa Dhyana - Theory And Practice: [05.07.02] Technique - 3rd Step Of Practice - Perception Of Breath (2)

Published: 27.03.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

B) Breathing Through Alternate Nostrils

Throughout our daily experience we encounter manifestation and coexistence of two opposing principles such as unity and multiplicity, creation and destruction, positive and negative, hot and cold. Normally the opposing forces are in equilibrium. In our body also, there is normally an equilibrium between the two opposite components of the autonomic nervous system - sympathetic and parasympathetic. For optimum health conditions (called homeostasis), a balanced equilibrium must be maintained.

For a practitioner of meditation, the technique of breathing through alternate nostrils and its perception is not only a valuable means of maintaining homeostasis, but also an instrument of steadying and controlling the wandering mind.

This exercise is similar to the perception of deep breathing, but is more effective in developing concentration. As in the previous exercise, total awareness of the rhythm of breathing is essential.

In this exercise, the alternation of the nostrils is done initially with the use of the fingers and subsequently by the exercise of will-power.


  1. Place your right thumb against your right nostril and your ring finger against your left. Let your middle and index fingers touch your forehead lightly.
  2. Decide upon a suitable rhythm of exhalation and inhalation (say 5 seconds) and maintain it throughout the exercise.
  3. Close your right nostril with your thumb, inhale slowly and silently through your left nostril for 5 seconds. At the end of the inhalation, close the left nostril, release your right nostril and exhale slowly through it for 5 seconds.
  4. At the end of the exhalation and without pausing, begin to inhale through the right nostril (the same which was used for exhalation). Inhale slowly for 5 seconds.
  5. Now close the right nostril and release the left one and exhale slowly through the left nostril for 5 seconds. Complete the exhalation.
    This completes the first round as the original starting point is reached.
  6. Without interruption, repeat and perform the exercise for several rounds. Each inhalation & exhalation is as silent as possible. Try to maintain a rhythm without actually counting. Remember that the use of fingers is temporary and ultimately you have to use your will-power to alternate (the nostrils).

Throughout the exercise, your consciousness must be coupled with your breath i.e. your attention will go inside with inhalation and come out with exhalation. It should not leave the breath and wander away.

  • Preksa Dhyana - Theory And Practice by Acharya Mahaprajna, © 1994
  • Edited by Muni Mahendra Kumar
  • Translated by Muni Mahendra Kumar, Jethalal Zaveri
  • Published by Jain Vishva Barati, Edition 2003

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  1. Body
  2. Concentration
  3. Consciousness
  4. Meditation
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