Understanding what the nasal cycle is can help you understand whether your body is functioning at its best, know the best times for you to rest or work, and to understand your brain better.
The nose does an excellent job for us! It filters the air we breathe, makes it moist, and brings it to body temperature. We should aim to breathe through our nose as much as possible when we’re going about our day-to-day lives.
We all know that we have a dominant hand, a dominant eye, one ear that is more sensitive than the other, and a dominant brain hemisphere. We consider it quite normal that each half of our brain controls the opposite side of our body and serves different purposes. But did you know that each of us has a dominant nostril too? It may come as a surprise to you because each nostril looks the same and has the same anatomy, but both of our nostrils have different effects on the body!
Most of us experience a cycle between the congestion of our nostrils, which can range from 2-7 hours in length. This is the nasal cycle in action! If you lie down on your side, you will notice that the nostril closest to the surface you are lying on becomes blocked while the other one clears up. This is especially noticeable when you have a cold. The nose deserves more credit and importance than we give it!
The Nasal Cycle
The fastest and easiest way to tell which nostril is currently dominant in your nasal cycle is to block one of your nostrils with your finger and breathe through your nose. Now do the same with the other side.
Which nostril had a stronger air flow? That’s the nostril which is dominant right now. It is very rare to have both of your nostrils in equal dominance for any length of time.
When your right nostril is dominant, the left side of your brain is functioning better. Your thinking, reasoning, and learning will be better at these times. Your metabolism and digestion will also be working faster. So, here are the best things you can do when your right nostril is dominant:
- Studying and/or teaching
- Giving speeches, talking in public
- Signing important documents
If your right nostril becomes dominant after you eat a meal, it is a sign of good digestion.
When your left nostril is dominant, the right side of your brain is functioning better. Your creativity and inspiration will flow more freely at these times. Have you ever experienced those moments when information just won’t sink in no matter how many times you read it? That’s probably because your left nostril and right brain hemisphere were both dominant! The best things you can do when your left nostril is dominant include:
- Listening to music
- Creative writing
- Socialising and relaxing
- Drawing or other creative hobbies
Controlling The Nasal Cycle
You can’t live your life by your nasal cycle alone! Sometimes, our left nostril is dominant when we really need to read and sign that important document and we end up reading it 5 times without really reading it. It’s annoying, right?
What’s great is that you can actually control your nasal cycle. For example, if you need your left brain activated so you can read and sign that document, you’ll need your right nostril to be dominant. Lean to the left, take a few slow breaths, and your right nostril will clear naturally.
Apparently there are certain pressure points in your armpits that also help clear your nostrils. As you lean to the left, place your right hand under your left armpit at the same time.
Balancing The Nasal Cycle
It might look strange if we tilt our heads to the left and place a hand under our armpit every time we need to concentrate! So the best thing to do is balance our nasal cycle so that nostril dominance comes more naturally to us.
Our nasal cycle should rotate every few hours from left to right, but for some people one nostril always seems to be more dominant than the other. According to Yogic texts, if our nostrils don’t balance regularly, it’s a sign of internal imbalance. There are some very simple things we can do to restore balance:
- If your right nostril is more dominant, you may find that your mind and/or mind is overactive and you may have trouble sleeping. Fall asleep on your right side when you go to bed.
- If your left nostril is more dominant, you may find that you have trouble concentrating, making decisions, and your digestion may be sluggish. Fall asleep on your left side when you go to bed.
Alternate nostril breathing is also a great way to restore your natural nasal cycle.
Do you have one nostril more dominant than the other? Do you recognise any of the signs of the imbalance mentioned above? Let us know your experiences in the comments below!