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Left & Right Nostrils: How to Utilise for Physical, Psychic, & Spiritual Health

Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2013 21:34:14
From: "Prabhakar"
Subject: Left & Right Nostrils: How to Utilise for Physical, Psychic, & Spiritual Health



In their day to day life, mostly the common people do not have much awareness about the practical process of breathing - or, more specifically, the proper use of nostrils. They are not aware how the nostrils function and how the nostrils can be utilized to enhance their life.


In the teachings of tantra, however, one special science is entirely dedicated to the proper and correct use of the nostrils. And this teaching is highly advantageous and helpful for us - as it details how we can best do the various works and activities of our daily life.

Whether these activities & duties are physical, psychic, or spiritual - each is highly linked with breathing, and in particular with the nostrils. So within the practice of breathing and breath control, there is a particular science which explains, outlines, and describes which nostril should be used for physical work, mental activities, or spiritual practices.

In Ananda Marga, most are well aware of this ancient science first propounded by Lord Shiva.


When Lord Shiva first introduced this science of breath control He named it svarashastra. And this science clarifies which nostril is to be used when; how to change the nostrils, and all the related points about breath control and nostrils.

Tantra Yoga says, "Moreover, the process of breathing, depending upon whether the breath is flowing through the right nostril or the left nostril or both nostrils, influences people in various ways. It was Shiva who determined what kind of activity should be performed, depending on which nostril the breath was flowing through, and depending on whether the id́á or piungalá or suśumná channel was active. He set down specific rules and regulations as to when one should undertake physical, psychic or spiritual activities. He further instructed when and in what circumstances one should do ásanas, práńáyáma, dhárańá, dhyána, etc. This science, which Shiva invented and developed, was known as svara shástra or svarodaya [science of breath control]. Prior to Him, the world was not aware of this science. Shiva also gave clear instructions how this science could be applied by people in the practical field of action. In fact, this svara shástra did help the people later to solve many problems in their mundane as well as spiritual lives." (Namah Shivaya Shantaya, 95 Edn, p. 25-6)

So Shiva was the first to propound the theory of breathing and use of nostrils. And Baba has revealed all the practical aspects of this in Ananda Marga books and discourses - including a special chapter in the Acarya diary.

Because the point is that using the proper nostril has a big effect on the entire body.

So whether doing arduous physical labour, or when taking food, or while doing asanas, or when involved in school examinations & study, or while doing sadhana, and even when experiencing samadhi, in each and every one of these activities, proper breathing through the nostrils has a keen role to play. Sometimes a particular nostril should be dominant or used exclusively and other times it is best to have both working simultaneously. Naturally then, being aware about this science is most helpful and beneficial.


This svarashastra, or science of breath control, plays a tremendous role in each and every life activity. As a case in point we can look at the process of eating.

The ingestion and digestion systems play a very significant role in maintaining human health. Because if a person's physical health is good then one is able to move ahead in the psychic and spiritual realms. If the food is digested properly then the mind can think clearly and it is also highly beneficial for sadhana. So digestion is very important. And this entire process of digestion is intrinsically linked with breathing through the proper nostril at the right time.

For example, if one is drinking water or taking any type of fruit juice etc, then the left nostril must be working. But if anyone is eating solid food, then prior to, during, and after the meal the right nostril must be dominant. Otherwise food will never be digested properly.

Here are Baba's guidelines about this:

"Take solid food when the right nostril (Piungala Na'd'ii) is predominant." (Caryacarya-2)

"When your left nostril (Ida' Na'd'ii) is active you should take liquid food." (Caryacarya-2)

"It is good to take food when the main flow of breath is through the right nostril. Even after food, it is good if the flow of breath mainly through the right nostril continues for some time. Because that is the time when the digestive glands start secreting a sufficient quantity of fluids to help digestion." (Caryacarya - 3)

"During mealtime and for an hour thereafter the breath should be flowing through the right nostril." (Yogic Treatment, p. 8)

According to Baba, the system is to have the right side nostril active or dominant before and after food. When that right nostril is active the stomach will secrete digestive enzymes etc. If one has yet to eat, the secretion will cause hunger; and, if one has eaten, that secretion will help digest the food in the stomach. Thus, it is very important to have the right nostril dominant prior to, during, and after taking food.

If one is experiencing indigestion, then they should not take any food and take steps to make the right nostril dominant. Then their digestion will improve dramatically. On a related manner, if anyone begins to feel hungry but they are involved in pressing work or for any reason they are unable to eat at the moment, then they should switch their nostrils and make the left side dominant. More about this is written in the next subheading.

Part and parcel of eating is elimination. To clear the bowels properly, the right nostril must be dominant, otherwise one will suffer from constipation and elimination problems.

"It is desirable to take food or to defecate when the main flow of breath is through the right nostril. Even after food, it is desirable if the flow of breath mainly through the right nostril continues for some time. Because that is the time when the digestive glands start secreting a sufficient quantity of fluids to help digestion." (Yogic Treatment - Dyspepsia (Indigestion))


There are essentially three ways by which one may switch the nostrils: From a lying position, a seated stance, and a standing position. Future letters will address all three techniques. Since the lying down technique may be the easiest, that I will describe here. If you wish to make the right nostril active, then simply lie on your left side. By remaining in that position for a short while (just a few minutes) then then you will notice that the right nostril has become dominant. You can make the left dominant by doing just opposite.

This is discussed in Caryacarya and in Senior Acarya Diary. Perhaps the easiest way is to ask an acarya. But, if they avoid your query or give a vague reply, then it means they do not understand the importance of this or they do not know the technique. In that case, better to ask someone else.

As mentioned, there are two more techniques for changing the nostril, and those will be written about in future letters on this topic; in addition, viirasana will facilitate making the left nostril dominant.


Some non-margiis may be thinking that all this is very strange because they never paid any attention to the use of nostrils, yet their food was digested nicely. But if they look carefully, they will see that within their unit structure, automatically, the whole science of the use of nostrils is happening - unbeknownst to them.

Ultimately it is just like how breathing goes on when one is sleeping or how the heart works even if one is not aware about its functioning. Similarly the same thing happens with respect to the nostrils. That's why right nostril starts functioning and the digestive juices are released, then automatically one starts feeling hungry. So during the time of food only their right nostril is working. In that case their digestion will be alright.

The problem comes for those without good digestion. Then they will see that when they eat, their right nostril is closed - or working less. In that case, they should apply one or more of the techniques of positioning the body whereby the proper nostril can be activated. Those with poor digestion will be greatly benefited.


Not just with eating and digesting food, but in all the spheres of life, the nostrils have a big role to play. When reading or studying, the left nostril needs to be dominant. But if while reading the right nostril is being used more, the mind will be fickle and less focused. Whereas having the left nostril open will enable the mind to be more concentrated. During sadhana it is best if both nostrils are working equally - yet if one is a little stronger then it should be the left nostril, not the right one.

Verily, in all the spheres of existence, the use of the proper nostril is key and highly beneficial. It yields a positive result.

Baba says, "This svarashastra did help the people later to solve many problems in their mundane as well as spiritual lives." (Namah Shiva Shantaya, '95 Edn, p.26)


Some naive people may be wondering if using superficial measures to control the nostrils are needed, or not. But the answer is no. One need not do things like stick cotton up the nose to try and block the left nostril in order to make the right one dominant, or vice versa. This is not the way - rather that will be harmful.


This entire science of svarashastra is highly significant and occurs deep within the subtle processes of the body. All this occurs within the internal workings of the human structure. Rather it all happens automatically-- deep within all this is going on.

Because when the body is in a state of balance and health then automatically the proper nostril will be working according to the type of activity one is involved in. If anyone is not accustomed to or less aware about this, then at any given time they can test which nostril is working by placing their finger(s) just below the two nostrils while exhaling. Then one can feel the air flow and it becomes quite evident which nostril is dominating.

So again, this all happens quite naturally when the body is healthy.

The purpose of letter is to bring awareness to times when the body is not functioning properly and empower one with the ability to make the body healthy and balanced by changing the dominant nostril. This is one very helpful and practical technique.

And this applies not just to physical health but psycho-spiritual well-being also. For instance, if sadhana is not pointed and the mind is running hither and thither, then check to see if the left nostril is dominant. If not, then make it dominant by lying on the right side for a few minutes. Once the left nostril becomes more active, return to your sadhana and most likely you will experience a dramatic shift in the quality of your meditation.

So this is quite practical on many fronts.


The next letter on this topic will talk more about the inner science behind the use of nostrils. Such as the three nadis, i.e. ida, susumna, piungala; how they are related with the cakras; how they are linked with higher sadhana. Plus how, in general, all this transforms our life practices and duties. As well as what techniques to employ to prompt the needed nostril to open.


Our life is three-fold and we are fortunate Baba has told us all the key points for each and every aspect of human life. By following them we the have the best opportunity to develop and grow - in all the realms of life. Accordingly the use of nostrils also has a big effect. Some few may naively think this is an insignificant point, but in our practical life this science of nostrils has a grand role to play.



"When your Id'a' Na'd'ii is working predominantly, you should utilize the time for your sadhana." (Caryacarya-2)

And sadhana is to be done when the ida nadii alone is open or when it is functioning in cooperation with the right nostril.


"When doing a heavy job while breathing normally, a person might have serious difficulties - perhaps one's limbs might be broken - but in a state of baddha kumbhaka or purna kumbhaka (with the lungs full), one can easily do the same work. While doing some over-strenuous activity in a state of shunya kumbhaka (with the lungs empty) one might even die." (Namah Shivaya Shantaya)

"Suppose you are climbing to a high place or lifting a very heavy load. If you do not follow the system of breathing while lifting the load, your hands may become painful or your bones dislocated. If you do the same work in a state of shunya kumbhaka (lungs empty), you will have great difficulty - you may even collapse. If on the contrary, you perform any strenuous activity in purna kumbhaka, taking a deep breath, you can easily do it. All this comes within the scope of that svaravijinana." (Namah Shivaya Shantaya)

"You might have read in the Ramayana that Hanuman, by taking a deep breath, made his body swell and lifted a whole mountain. Although it is a mythological story, it refers to the science of svaravijinana." (Namah Shivaya Shantaya)


"As with dyspepsia, during mealtime and for an hour thereafter breath should be flowing through the patient's right nostril. At the time of severe colic pain, the dominant flow of breath should be changed from the nostril through which it was flowing at the time the pain started to the other nostril. Allowing the bile to accumulate by not taking something when one is hungry should never be permitted, because in that event the undigested bile itself will become the cause of acidity." (Yogic Treatments, Acidity)


"Practise Asanas only while breath is flowing through the left nostril or both nostrils; do not practise asanas when the breath flows only through the right nostril." (Caryacarya Part III, chapter 8, pt #6)

"There is no restriction of nostrils for the following asanas: Padmasana (lotus posture), Siddhasana (Siddha posture), Ardhasiddhasana (half Siddha posture), Bhojanasana ('cross-legged sitting posture'), Viirasana (Viira posture), Diirgha Pranama (long bowing posture), Yogasana (Yoga posture) and Bhujaungasana (snake posture)." (Caryacarya Part III, chapter 8, pt #19)

"For all those asanas where there is no restriction of nostrils, there is no restriction on food either." (Caryacarya Part III, chapter 8, pt #20)


"[Sadashiva] also invented sha'stras; that is, He found the link between the exhalation and inhalation of breath...This is called svarashastra." (Song Dance And Instrumental Music)

in Him,
"He Prabhu tom'ar caran'e a'j a'mi ya'ciya' cali..."  (P.S. 4473)


O' my Lord, at Your lotus feet today I am requesting only one thing. Please grace me so that I can fight against all sorts of obstacles. Even if clouds roll in and overcast the eastern horizon, even if hopelessness comes and covers the effulgence by submerging it into blackness, in those very moments  please grace me so that I should always realise that You are along with me - side by side. Please grant me this wee-bit of Your cosmic grace. So all the moments I should go on having faith and surrender unto You. If in my journey, some dilemma comes and  tries to break my rhythm of forward movement, Baba, at that very moment, please shower Your fathomless grace. Then certainly I will be able to overcome that situation. O' my Dearmost, please allow me to go on moving forward unto You, the Path of Bliss. Baba, You are my Saviour, I surrender again and again unto You. I want the dust of Your feet - except this I do not want anything...

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