Which half of your brain are you using at the moment?

There are some truths you fig­ure out your­self with­out need­ing to study them else­where.

I learnt a bit of yoga when I was a child, and while doing pranaya­ma, learnt that the left nos­tril leads to the right part of the brain and vice ver­sa.

Some years lat­er, I bought the book Whole Brain Think­ing, and dis­cov­ered the indi­vid­ual strengths (or shall we say per­son­al­i­ty traits?) of the left and right hemi­spheres of the brain. (For an excel­lent sum­ma­ry of what whole brain think­ing is all about, see this arti­cle by John Adams)

Well, con­nect­ing the dots, I deduced the fol­low­ing prin­ci­ple:

When one is breath­ing through the left nos­tril, the right brain is active, and vice ver­sa.

I decid­ed to put this to the test and here’s what I found:

1. Yoga’s ancient adage about the nos­trils con­nect­ing to the oth­er side of the brain has been proven by sci­ence.
2. My hypothe­ses is held up both by yoga and what’s now called ‘alter­na­tive’ med­i­cine or ther­a­pies.

I’ve test­ed this hypothe­ses of mine prac­ti­cal­ly sev­er­al times, and it turns out to be true with­out fail. What I have not been able to achieve is what the yogis preach: change the dom­i­nant nos­tril at the first sign of any phys­i­cal or men­tal dis­tur­bance. When­ev­er I try that, not only do I not suc­ceed, I get more frus­trat­ed and upset!

A few asides:

- Spir­i­tu­al comes from the word Spir­i­tus, which means breath in Latin
— In the movie Out of Africa, Denys Finch Hat­ton (Robert Red­ford) bemoans how the foot has nev­er been appre­ci­at­ed by the poets. I think the same is true about the nos­trils. Con­sid­er this: Each day, the nose cleans about 10,000 litres of air, which has to be fil­tered and air-con­di­tioned, to the, um, taste of the lungs — 80% humid­i­ty and 35 degrees Centi­grade. It is no mean feat!

100th Post CelebrationBy the way, this is final­ly my 100th post. A very grate­ful thanks to all my read­ers — here’s some cel­e­bra­tion to go along with it!

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  • Con­grats on your 100th post. You are quite pro­lif­ic!
    About yoga, I prac­tice it 3–4 times a week and its the breath­ing which is at the heart of yoga. The breath­ing tech­niques clear your brain, improve think­ing. Sure, yoga improves one’s flex­i­bil­i­ty too, but I can real­ly swear by the fan­tas­tic effect of the var­i­ous breath­ing tech­niques. It works almost instant­ly. Before yoga you could be feel­ing dull, but after half an hour of breath­ing, sud­den­ly you are on a high!

  • Con­grats, M!
    Your posts seem to be get­ting better…or am I get­ting bet­ter at read­ing?! 😉
    Breath­ing is very impor­tant, espe­cial­ly if some­one leaves you breath­less!!
    Cheers from Mykonos, Greece, where I am breath­ing heavy with semi-naked females run­ning around, try­ing to escape geri­atric ex-alpha males (don’t count myself yet amongst them!)

  • Nita: Thanks again! Yes, I think ama­teur approach to yoga is more about phys­i­cal well-being, and the more advanced prac­ti­tion­ers are focused on breath­ing and peace of mind. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I got out of the yoga world before I moved ahead of the phys­i­cal stuff!

    Ramana: Thanks! Nice to know you’re enjoy­ing your Greek trip!