Breathing techniques are a crucial part of yoga practice to inspire and promote wellbeing and to control what is known as Prana, our body’s vital life energy. Controlling the breath and using it to work with yoga movements and poses, is regarded as a way of bringing more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, stimulating wellness and creating a sense of balance in your practice.
What is wrong with the way we breathe?
Breathing in yoga is used to work with each movement but also to bring about benefits in itself. Today’s stressful lifestyles of and sedentary working days, can leave the body out-of-sync and this includes our breathing. Pressures can lead to faster, shallow breaths, where the full lung capacity is simply not being used.
Mouth breathing and breathing from the chest, does not bring in the same level of oxygen and we may even hold our breath during times of anxiety of even concentration. The way many of us live leads to a tightening of muscles and this includes the thorax and the neck and upper body muscles, which can restrict deep breathing.
What are the benefits of breathing in yoga?
Essentially, yoga breathing is aimed at promoting a better flow of oxygen and a more powerful flow of Prana, which leaves us feeling energized and full of vitality. Getting into poses, holding challenging positions, such as inversions and focusing on the flow of movements in yoga, are all greatly aided by quality breathing techniques, that are deep and controlled. Other benefits include:
- Better balance of oxygen inhalation and carbon dioxide exhalation.
- Greater connection of the body and mind through controlled, focused breathing.
- Relaxed body and mind as slower, deeper breaths create a meditative feeling.
- Better focus and a sense of inner peace and calm.
- Increased lung capacity and training for the body to breath correctly.
- Discipline for the mind and body.
- Combats stress.
- Reduces toxins in the body, helping the circulation.
- Good for digestive processes.
- Purifies the blood and rejuvenates the skin.
- Enhances ability to deal with emotions.
- Enhances immune system.
How to breathe with Yoga
It is important that you breathe through your nose with yoga and that you use your diaphragm rather than shallow breathing. Breathing can be part of meditation, to help you move, and is also a part of yoga training itself. I you are unsure how to breathe correctly for yoga then follow this simple exercise:
- Sit upright with your legs crossed or the soles of your feet touching and your knees relaxed. Keep your back straight and your hands resting on your knees.
- Close your eyes or softly focus them in the mid-distance.
- Breath in through your nose slowly, holding the breath for a second or two.
- Exhale through the nose, making sure the breath is slow and steady; controlled.
- Focus your mind on your breath and each time the mind wanders bring your attention back to your breathing.
- As you inhale, feel your diaphragm move up and your abdomen expand, lowering and deflating as you exhale.
- Let your thoughts come and go as you concentrate solely on deep breaths. You can imagine a bright light being drawn in if it helps.
- Feel grounded, safe and relaxed.
Yoga is a fitness system for your whole being rather than simply exercises for the body alone. Take advantage of yoga benefits by getting involved in our yoga sessions.