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Focus your mind with Anulom Vilom breath work

Focus your mind with breath work

Welcome to my guide to Anulom Vilom, an alternate nostril breathing technique that will bring clarity and focus to your mind.

Is there anything more constant in your life than your own breath?

Breath work plays a major role in yoga AND in our lives. From our first breath to our last, there is nothing more important than learning how to breathe in a manner that suits our lives and the situations we find ourselves in. Pranayama is totally magic yogi stuff, it’s super cool and I really hope you are open to it and its magical properties, from focusing the mind to cooling the body.

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What is Pranayama?

Pranayama, the Sanskrit word, roughly translates as breath control and consists of two root words ‘prana’ meaning vital energy or life force and ‘ayama’ meaning extension or expansion. We wish to extend and expand our breath in order to extend and expand our life force, to go beyond our normal limits and attain a higher energy state.

Breath work is a transformational practice!

Look to the animal kingdom. Animals that breathe short quick breaths – like hamsters, birds and little dogs – live short lives, and animals that breathe long and deep – like elephants! – live so much longer.


Swami Sivananda
Swami Sivananda


When I taught ESL in public primary schools in Hanoi, with classes of up to 60 students, I would break up the lesson with moments to breathe together.

Students did not know how to focus and calm their thoughts, which would result in fights and crying, particularly among boys whose emotions were never being addressed.

Breathing transformed this. Pranayama gave them as well as me a vital tool for our daily lives.

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I offer a practice to extend the breath and focus the mind; Anulom Vilom, a variation of alternate nose breathing.


In all Pranayama techniques, we sit straight and tall, in cross legged or lotus pose (or hero’s pose, if you prefer) and be sure to grab yourself a block or cushion so that you will be comfortable for the entire practice. I can comfortably sit for so much longer with a block than sat directly on my mat. If sitting on the floor isn’t an option for you, sit in a chair. All good.


Feel the sitting bones grounding down and the spine elongating up, allowing for the breath and vital life energy to move up and down the spine.

This breathing technique includes breath retention, which is NOT advisable for pregnant women. If you do not wish to retain your breath for any reason, just practice inhaling and exhaling. All good!  If you start to feel out of breath, come back to normal breathing for a moment, then restart. Maybe don’t go to such a high count, take a count down.

anulom vilom
Leading morning breath work practice at my dear friend Andria’s 8th Wildly at Peace retreat in Viet Nam.

After a few practices, you might start to notice your breath getting longer and longer. When I practice regularly, my count can go up to 15 or more! But it’s not a competition, your breath is your own. It’s all relative anyway, maybe you could go up to 100 if you count fast enough. 😛


Use this breath to:

detoxify your body by breathing more effectively

reduce the carbon dioxide in our blood and increase the oxygen level

stimulate your brain to work at a higher capacity

enable clearer thinking and tranquility

reduce stress levels

support a deep, meditative state

Focus your mind with breath work

Start by bringing your first finger and the middle finger together at the center of your forehead, leaving your ring finger or pinky free to open and close the left nostril and the thumb free to open and close the right nostril.

Close the left nostril and exhale through the right completely, and we begin.

Inhale through the right nostril for 3 – 2 – 1, close both nostrils and hold the breath for 3 – 2 – 1, then open only the left nostril and exhale for 3 – 2 – 1.

Inhale through the left nostril for 3 – 2 – 1, close both nostrils and hold the breath for 3 – 2 – 1, then open only the right nostril and exhale 3 – 2 – 1.

From one side to the other and back again is one round of breath. How do you feel after just one? How was the length of the inhale, exhale and hold? For this variation today, we’re aiming for an even count across each section, allowing for a tiny moment of grace at the top of the breath and the bottom, where we naturally pause.

If that count felt right for you, keep going for another 5 or 6 rounds, if it was too short, build on the count, next round go for 4, the round after that go for 5. If it was too long, next round go for 2.


Like anything, it’s a practice, it’s a skill, and your body will respond to that and you will amaze yourself at how far you can go.  


After finishing your practice, take a moment just to sit and be with the energy. How does it feel? How do you feel? What are you more aware of?

I hope this practice serves you throughout your day as it does me.

There’s a video tutorial too, that might be a more helpful guide than following the text. I’d love for you to check it out.

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Thanks for watching, thanks for reading


Much love  

Lolli the Yogicorn 

Access the video by filling in the form below!



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