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What a ridiculous question. I ask the same question - from which nostril do you breathe - to a lot of people - particularly while travelling - in a bus, train and flight. No sooner than this question is asked, they stare at me and burst out 'what a ridiculous question'. Not only in India, but all over the world - ask this question to any one - they think you are an immatur person and do not know what to ask.
Yes! They are absolutely right in thinking so, because they do not know that they are breathing from the nostrils. They think they have a nose and breathing - one-nose one-breath. I was also thinking so, till I started learning yoga. After learning yoga, I wondered what our ancient rishis saw in the nose - what we do not see - the whole cosmology & philosophy. Their thoughts are beyond our imagination.
It is our common thinking that we have one nose and breathing one breath. But in reality, it is not so. Our ancient wise people said, we have one nose, two nostrils - these two nostrils breathe ida-pingala and pancha mahabhootha. For more on this, I suggest the readers to look into the book - "Swara Yoga" - the tantric science of brain breathing - written by Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati - published by Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, Bihar. This book is an English translation of an ancient Sanskrit text "Swara Shastra". Swara means breath. Yoga and acupuncture are two faces of a coin - they deal with the subject of 'breath' differently.
Acupuncture goes a step further. It tells that this human body is created out of twelve organs - six ida and six pingala and a human being is breathing every day with these twelve organs - on 'one-organ two-hour' basis - a cycle of 24-hours. It further says that a person's well-being depends on the pranic-strength of each organ. Hence, all the people do not feel well all the time - different people feel differently in the four-hour cycle. (Here four-hours means, a time-unit of husband-wife or mother-son. In acupuncture, organs are also known as father-mother-son.)
All human beings, all over the world, breathe in alternate nostrils - one nostril for every two-hours. Change to the other nostril for another two-hours is silently automatic. Hence, we do not notice the change. Left nostril breathing activates ida nadi; right nostril breathing activates pingala nadi. Of course we breathe from both the nostrils for some time when the breath-change takes place. This short period of time is called as sushumna nadi.
Smooth change of breathing from one nostril to another is the state of 'well-being'. This is not so with many people. They continue to breathe in the same nostril for long hours. This is the state of 'not-well'. In this state 'dis-ease' arises. Hence, acupuncture asks from which nostril are you breathing? When dis-ease arises, acupuncture offers therapy.
- Raghavendrachar (Yoga shikshak & sujok acupuncturist), Bangalore, India