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Imagine how great it would be to have a switch that, when operated, would enable you to

consciously choose between your right and left brain hemispheres, intuitive and analytical
intelligence, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, fight/flight reflex and
rest/relaxation, and between the male and female, solar and lunar, aspects of your psyche. How
great it would be if, when required, you could switch from being compassionate to doggedly
determined. Or from charged with energy to completely relaxed within a few minutes. Or from
extrovert (physically present, expressive and outgoing) to introvert (reflective and absorbing)
within a short time. This switch does in fact exist and it is not at all hidden. It is the prominently
protruding olfactory orifice right in the middle of your face: your nose.

The fundamental proposition of pranayama is that the two poles of creation, the male and
female poles of the cosmos, are represented in the hemispheres of the body and brain of the
individual, and are associated with the right and left nostrils respectively (Shiva Svarodaya stanza
52). In yoga they are called the solar nostril or Pingala (the right one) and the lunar nostril or Ida
(the left one).

The right brain hemisphere, which is more intuitive and holistic, is powered by the left nostril.
The left brain hemisphere, which is more analytical and dissecting, is powered by breathing
through the right nostril. Try it out: Study an academically difficult subject such as law, medicine
or physics and see how far you get when breathing through the left nostril. You are far better at
memorizing and dissecting difficult subjects when breathing through the right nostril (Shiva
Svarodaya stanza 114). Obviously, when studying too much you will become unbalanced, as you
keep using the same part of your brain and nadi system over and over again.

Then undertake another experiment and try to be empathic and compassionate to the woes and
suffering of another being when breathing through the male, analytical right nostril. It won’t
work. You will, like a computer, analyse what they are doing wrong and suggest improvements to
their current strategy. That is not what is needed in this situation. Instead, they need your
listening, under- standing and empathy to heal and feel the nurturing, human traits that are
powered by the left nostril.

Or try to understand complex poetry, music or paintings. You need to holographically feel all the
many dimensions that the author felt to really appreciate a great artwork. Feel how all of this
becomes suddenly possible when you do use the left nostril, which enables you to sit back, relax,
zoom out of a narrow view and receive complex connections, which are far greater than you.
A complete, integrated human being is not just 100% male or female but, depending on
circumstance, is capable of activating either male or female circuits of their psyche and thus
their capabilities. This is reflected in the Indian image of Ardhanarishvara. It is an androgynous
form of Lord Shiva and his female aspect, Devi Parvati (Shakti), the god that is half woman and
half man.

The next dualistic pair we will look at is the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the
nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system governs the fight-or-flight reflex. It is activated
through stress and, by emitting adrenalin, it mobilises your energy resources. It is activated
through the right, solar, male nostril. When breathing through the right nostril you will be able to
perform strenuous physical tasks like fighting for your life against foes, running from danger as
fast as you can or lifting heavy stones to erect pyramids (Shiva Svarodaya stanza 115).

If it is that effective, why don’t we always breathe through the right nostril? Because
overemphasizing the sympathetic nervous system will cause us to burn out. It is good for short
bursts of energy but, if we overemphasise it, we will become irate, suffer insomnia and tend to
develop a type-A personality. Not to mention that we will have only 50% of the capabilities of a
complete, integrated human being