If you’re new to meditation and have no idea where to begin, try this exercise from The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep, Sex Drive, and Vitality Naturally with the Gottfried Protocol.
Alternate-nostril breathing does four lovely things: lowers your pulse, reduces your blood pressure, raises the efficiency of your breathing, and, astonishingly, raises your ability to solve problems. In Sanskrit, it’s called Nadi Shodhana, and yogis have been performing it for thousands of years. It’s only recently that we Westerners have learned that breathing unilaterally through the right nostril activates the sympathetic nervous system and left hemisphere of the brain, and that unilaterally breathing through the left nostril activates the parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxation response) and right hemisphere of the brain.
The technique involves sitting on the floor and covering one nostril while breathing through the other. Cover your right nostril with your right thumb, and inhale through your left nostril while counting slowly to ten. Then hold your breath for a count of ten. Notice the sensations in your lower lungs and soft belly, particularly as you reach the higher numbers. Sit up straight, but keep your core soft. Move your right ring finger to cover your left nostril, release your thumb to uncover your right nostril, and exhale through your right nostril for a slow count to ten. Then inhale through your right nostril, and hold for a count to ten. Is the movement of air through the right nostril as smooth as it was through the left? Move your thumb back to cover your right nostril and exhale through your left. Repeat for three more rounds. Do this in traffic, on line at the grocery store, whenever you need a serenity boost.