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Deep Breathing Yoga Exercises

Updated on January 26, 2017

Importance of Breathing To Yoga

In yoga, it is the objective of pranayama to enable you to properly inhale, exhale, or retain your breathing. Therefore, there are different branches of pranayama dedicated specifically for inhalation, exhalation, and breathing retention.

As for its importance in the yoga practice, pranayama is practiced to enable the body to rid itself of impurities. The elimination process bring about positive results, which also explains why bigger emphasis is given on exhalation. When any form of blockage or impurity is cleared, there is more room for the prana to enter freely.

How To Perform Deep Breathing

You can perform deep breathing regardless of your posture. However, the lotus posture, which is good for meditation, is a highly recommended posture for deep breathing.

Posture is key. Keep your head erect, hands on your knees, your mouth closed, and your spine straight. Focus on the space at the back of your mouth's wall and have its muscles contract. Slowly, draw the air in following a suction pump process. Never rush as you do this; instead, maintain a steady but gradual pace. As you inhale air, allow the rib to expand sideways. However, avoid motion in your shoulders and chest. Hold your breath for about a second or two after completing the inhalation process.

Slowly, breathe out the air from your lungs. You need to use a slight amount of pressure to push the air out but it has to be a slow process.

Four Stages of Breathing

Deep breathing is a process that involves various stages to complete. These different stages will also allow your lungs to adapt to any form of breathing activity it has to undergo. Each stage are discussed below:

Stage 1 or "Breathing In": This stage is where inhalation begins allowing your respiratory system to work.

Stage 2 or "The Pause": This is the first of two "resting" stages in deep breathing. It could either be short or long, and it is where more readjustments are done before proceeding unto the next stage.

Stage 3 or "Breathing Out": Called expiration, this stage is where you expel or exhale oxygen that your lungs have absorbed.

Stage 4 or "The Pause": The final of two "resting" stages, this is also referred to as the extensive pause.

Step-by-Step Procedures

Deep breathing is not something that can be easily performed. Therefore, you need to properly set your mind into it following the given steps:

  1. Finding a comfortable position is a must before you begin deep breathing exercises.
  2. Try to elongate your spine by lengthening your neck and lifting your chin upwards. Make sure your spin are aligned with the back of your head.
  3. Keep your eyes shut as you do this.
  4. Clasp your hands together near your sternum level (as if to pray) while keeping your forearms parallel to the ground.
  5. Apply equal amount of pressure on both palms.
  6. Keep your diaphragm and stomach muscles relaxed.
  7. Exchange inhalation and exhalation in 4 sniffs. This will ensure that your lungs are completely filled with air, and then you will completely expel all the air out. Repeat this process for as long as 5 minutes.

Important Elements in Deep Breathing

The difference with the yogic deep breathing technique is that it makes full use of your lungs and its muscles. However, the rate at which deep breathing is performed varies according to the needs of an individual's body, especially when progressing at the techniques performed. Slow and deep breathing is the most ideal for yoga since it facilitates for a calmer mind.

You also need to consider the following elements as part of the pranayama in yoga.

Prana

The concept of yoga prana is based on the idea that something flows from inside you, which is important in maintaining vitality and survival. It is therefore important for one to familiarize how to measure, control, and direct their breathing patterns to restore and promote health. The teachings of Yoga Sutra believe that disturbances in your breathing pattern can lead to a variety of health problems, physically and psychologically.

It is during the practice of pranayama in yoga that a person tries to eliminate any discrepancies or harmful toxins in the body that could intervene with the process of regulating your oxygen all across your system. Indeed, the link between mind and breath has been fully emphasized by the teachings of yoga. Therefore, it is only after you have achieved a clarity of mind that you can facilitate for proper breathing mechanisms required in yoga.

Prana and Consciousness or Citta

Your breathing ability and consciousness are closely tied together. This connection also implies that you need to achieve proper means of stabilizing your breathing patterns.

The goal in breathing is simple, which is to establish a relationship with your inhalation and exhalation such that you are able to assign a particular length for each one. The control involved with your breathing helps in gaining more consciousness about your breathing patterns. This level of consciousness will then create the proper mindset for meditation. Indeed, attaining this is difficult, which is why it is considered as the ultimate form of self-discipline.

Prana and Apana

The concept of prana is the breath that you release outside of your body, while apana is that which enters your body. To be specific, apana also refers to your lower abdomen and all activities directed in that area of the body to improve function. Therefore, proper energy activation is essential in ensuring that there is enough balance between the prana and apana.

Therefore, this methodical exchange of inhalation and exhalation must be mastered using pranayama.

Primary Benefits of Deep Breathing

Whenever new students are introduced into the concept of proper breathing techniques in yoga, one of the first questions they ask concern its benefits. Learning how to properly execute breathing exercises while performing asanas is never easy. Hence, your knowledge of what you can gain from it might motivate you to lear.

  • Deep breathing helps in bringing more oxygen into your blood. The oxygenated blood will then be transported throughout your entire body, which helps in healing, waste removal, and detoxification.
  • It boosts the amount of Prana or life-force into your overall health system.
  • By fully expanding your lungs to absorb bigger amounts of oxygen, you are using its full capacity and elasticity. This is good for the enhancement of your respiratory system.
  • It regulates and activates the flow of energy.

Videos on Yoga Deep Breathing

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