In yoga, breathing techniques are part of the practice; breathing correctly through movements and poses is integral to getting the most benefit out of yoga. In fact, breathing in yoga is actually exercise in and of itself, with yogis often focusing simply on learning and practicing breathing. In essence, many practitioners adopt yogic style breathing for wellness.
While certain styles of yoga focus more on the breath than others, it is important to understand why breathing techniques are so intrinsic to yoga practice and also how to breathe effectively. Prana is the Sanskrit word for life force and breathing in yoga is all about being in tune with this and giving power to it. Breathing keeps the flow of your energy going and grounds you. Inhaling and exhaling can have a transformative effect on you.
What are the benefits of yoga breathing techniques?
Most activities focus on some level on your breathing and how this can help you; from giving birth to running a marathon, breathing in the right way is an essential component. Through yoga movements you can use the breath to create many benefits:
Mindfulness – You breathe in and then you breathe out; you breathe in and you breathe out. There’s nothing static about breathing and it brings your mind to the present. moment; to the now. This can work to free your mind and relieve your stress levels.
Relaxation – You don’t need to be practicing yoga to know that a few deep breaths instantly relax you. Try it now! Breathe deeply and take pleasure in the feeling as you draw in oxygen and exhale to eliminate toxins.
Clarity – By bringing your awareness to the present moment, breathing in yoga can help clear your mind of anxieties and the noise of a busy brain. The quietness breathing instills in your very core can bring moments of greater lucidity along with the calm.
Healing – Breath is your life force and add to this awareness and the relaxing quality that breathing techniques bring, and you have the innate power to create a soothing and healing salve that can help you on every level from physical to emotional. As you let go of each breath you can also learn how to let go with your mind and emotions too.
Strengthening – Yoga is a real strengthening practice and by focusing on your breath you are also promoting respiratory strength, as well as boosting your immune and lymphatic system.
Energizing – When you give a fire a blast of air it really starts to burn and you can think of deep breathing in yoga as adding this fuel to the fire within. The stretching and opening out of yoga movements allows you to really breathe deeply as you move from pose to pose.
How do you breathe correctly in yoga?
In yoga you need to breathe with your diaphragm. This means that when you inhale you should feel your abdominal muscles shift as your diaphragm moves down. In turn, this makes your belly stick out. As you exhale the abdominal muscles settle back into place and your stomach becomes less pronounced as it falls toward the spine.
Always check your posture too as this can limit your breathing. Put your shoulders up and then roll them back and drop them so that your shoulder blades seem to slide down. This opens the chest so you can breathe more deeply and more easily.
Make sure that you body is relaxed and not tense. You don’t want to be breathing in a shallow way from your chest but working your breath from a deeper level. Don’t hunch shoulders and neck muscles. Keep your body soft even when your movements are strong.
Breathe steadily and don’t force your breath. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Bring your attention to your breath from time to time or when guided but don’t try and overcontrol your breathing as there should be a feeling of natural flow.
Breathe new life into your workout with some yoga moves!