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  • Writer's pictureRosie Nicholas

Breathe your way to balance and zen in less than 10

Becoming a mother is a beautiful journey, filled with countless joys and challenges. Amidst often overwhelming responsibilities and sleepless nights, it’s crucial as a new mum to prioritise your wellbeing. Self care and rest aren't luxuries; they're necessities that allow us to recharge and show up fully for our little ones. But time is a constant challenge. One powerful way to achieve this balance is through the ancient practice of Anuloma Viloma. It might sound like a mouthful, but it’s actually a very simple and effective pranayama (breath work) technique that offers a host of benefits for the body and mind. And it’s perfect for busy mums.

But why should I bother? I never have any time left at the end of the day, and all I want to do is crash out in bed...

Reduced stress:

The responsibilities and mental load of motherhood can lead to elevated stress levels. Engaging in self care activities like Anuloma Viloma helps lower stress hormones, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.

Enhanced energy:

Adequate rest and rejuvenation are essential for new mums. Self care practices boost energy levels, ensuring you have the vitality to tackle the everyday challenges.

Improved mental clarity:

Sleep deprivation and a busy schedule can cloud our cognitive functions (errr hello mum brain). Self care, including pranayama techniques like Anuloma Viloma, clears the mind, enhancing focus and mental clarity.

Emotional wellbeing:

Self care nurtures emotional health. Engaging in activities that bring us joy, like practicing calming breath work, triggers the release of endorphins, the “feel-good” hormone.

Anuloma Viloma: The Breath of Balance

Anuloma Viloma, also known as alternate nostril breathing, is a breath work technique that harmonises the whole nervous system and balances both sides of the brain (did you know that our brain activity alternates throughout the day?). In short, it balances in the body’s energy channels. This technique involves alternating the breath between the left and right nostrils, and for the more advanced, retaining the breath in between.

A Simple How To Guide to Practicing Anuloma Viloma

  1. Find your (fresh air) moment: When it's someone else's turn to take care of the baby, or when your little one is asleep, find a peaceful spot near an open window (or nip outside if you can; access to fresh air is important as we'll be flooding our bodies with the stuff). Sit comfortably on a cushion or chair with an upright spine.

  2. Nasal preparation: Gently blow your nose to clear any congestion. This practice requires unobstructed breathing through both nostrils.

  3. Hand position: Use your right thumb to close your right nostril and your right ring finger to close your left nostril.

  4. Begin breathing: Close your eyes and take a deep inhalation and exhalation. Close your night nostril with your right thumb and inhale deeply and slowly through your left nostril, breathing from the belly up to the chest. Once your lungs are full, close your left nostril with your ring finger, releasing your right nostril.

  5. Exhale: Exhale completely and slowly through your right nostril.

  6. Inhale: Keeping your right nostril open, inhale deeply and slowly through it.

  7. Switch sides: Close your right nostril with your right thumb and release your left nostril. Exhale slowly and completely through your left nostril.

  8. Repeat: This completes one cycle. Continue by inhaling through your left nostril, switching to the right, and exhaling through the right. Aim for 5-10 cycles to start.

  9. Focus on the breath: While practising, focus your attention on the rhythm of the breath. Let go of other thoughts and bring your mind to the present moment.

  10. End Mindfully: Once you’re done, release the breath and sit quietly for a few moments, keeping your eyes closed. Observe the sensations in your body. Take your time and get up slowly. Notice how you feel.

Once you’re familiar with the technique, you can start to retain the breath after the inhalations. The traditional ratio is 1:4:2. For example, inhale for 4 seconds, retain the breath for 16 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds. This might be a little too much to begin with, so play around with a smaller retention time and build up. If you practice this regularly, you’ll soon be able to hold longer retentions. But go easy to begin with.

This technique can be practised at any time of the day, for example:

Morning Ritual: Start your day with a few minutes of Anuloma Viloma to set a positive tone for the day ahead (my personal favourite).

Midday Reset: Take a break during the afternoon slump to re-energise and refocus your mind.

Evening Calm: Wind down before bed with a gentle session of Anuloma Viloma to promote relaxation and restful sleep.

Remember, self care isn’t one-size-fits-all. Every mum’s journey is unique, and it’s important to explore and discover the right practices that resonate with you the most. This is a beautiful breath work technique to play around with as it aids rest and relaxation, offering a path to balance and tranquillity on your motherhood journey. Give it a go and let me know how you get on!

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