Improve Memory with Yoga Nostril Breathing Techniques

Improve Memory with Yoga Nostril Breathing Techniques


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.” – Sanskrit Proverb


Yoga practice is becoming increasingly popular in the west, for good reason. It has documented benefits for the individual’s psychological and physical health and well-being. It has also been shown to have cognitive benefits, improving memory. Yoga, however, consists of a number of components including, poses, breathing exercises, meditation, concentration, and philosophy/ethics.  So, it is difficult to determine which facet or combination of facets of yoga are responsible for which benefit. Hence, it is important to begin to test each component in isolation to determine its effects.


In today’s Research News article “Effect of Left, Right and Alternate Nostril Breathing on Verbal and Spatial Memory.” See:

or below or view the full text of the study at:

Garg and colleagues test the effects of yogic breathing, specifically, left or right or alternating nostril breathing on memory ability. They randomly assigned adult female participants to three groups, right nostril breathing, left nostril breathing, or alternating nostril breathing. They practiced their respective breathing technique for 45 minutes per day for one week. Their verbal and spatial memory ability was then tested for 3 consecutive days before and after yogic nostril breathing.


They found that both verbal and spatial memory scores were improved by all three forms of breathing, but left nostril breathing produced superior verbal memory scores. There are no data to provide an explanation for the mechanism by which these breathing techniques improve memory. It is possible that they improve oxygenation of the hemispheres. Since the left hemisphere is generally involved in verbal ability, increasing oxygen flow to the left hemisphere may specifically improve verbal memory. It should be mentioned that there were no control conditions conducted. It is possible that the results were produced not by the breathing technique but by subject expectancy (placebo) effects or experimenter bias. It is also possible that nostril breathing is generally activating and this improves memory scores. Had a normal breathing control condition been conducted, this alternative hypothesis could have been addressed.


Nevertheless, improve memory with yoga nostril breathing techniques.


“This breathing exercise helps sharpen your concentration and mental clarity when your mind is dull. Alternate nostril breathing provides equal oxygen amounts to both sides of your brain. It is a great exercise to do before an important exam or interview.” – Ripa Ajmera


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


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Study Summary

Garg, R., Malhotra, V., Tripathi, Y., & Agarawal, R. (2016). Effect of Left, Right and Alternate Nostril Breathing on Verbal and Spatial Memory. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, 10(2), CC01–CC03.



Introduction: Yoga has beneficial effects on memory. In females, left hemisphere of the brain is responsible for verbal memory and right hemisphere is responsible for the spatial memory, while the opposite is true for males.

Aim: Aim of the present was to study the effect of unilateral right nostril breathing, left nostril breathing and alternate nostril breathing on verbal and spatial memory scores.

Materials and Methods: A total of 51 female subjects (age 18-25 years, mean±SD =21.71±3.11) were taken and divided into three groups (n=17). Each group was imparted one of the three different types of nostril breathing practices such as Right Nostril Breathing (RNB), Left Nostril Breathing (LNB) and Alternate Nostril Breathing (ANB) for 1 week for 45 minutes daily. Subjects were given the memory test, before and after 45 minutes of intervention for three consecutive days. Memory tests were performed by using Wechsler Adult Intelligent Scale.

Statistical Analysis: Results were analysed by ANOVA with SPSS version 17.0.

Results: Results showed that there was increase in recall of digit span-forward, digit-span backward, associate learning and spatial memory scores with RNB, LNB and ANB, which were statistically highly significant(p<0.005).

Conclusion: Inclusion of nostril breathing in exercise regimen may be helpful in improving recall of memory.


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