Pranayama is commonly referred to as yogic breathing. Pranayama was developed by ancient Indian Yogis who understood the strength of breathing and developed specific breathing techniques to nourish the brain and soul. The Yogis learned the art of regulating the breath, instructed the body to respire and reconfigured its natural respiratory mechanism to enhance physical health and well-being.
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How to Practice Yogic Breathing:
We generally take shallow breaths or breathe through our mouths, and our diaphragm is hardly ever used. A fraction of our lungs is always used and our body do not receive the required oxygen. But, Yoga Breathing helps you to breathe correctly.
Here are 5 steps to do yogic breathing:
Sit straight or lie down on the floor with your back. Relax your body, clear your mind, and focus on your breathing.
Inhale: We take oxygen into the solar plexus by doing Yoga Breathing. We are aware of our breathing and through our nose, we take deep breaths. Such breathing boosts the immune system and oxygen supply to the brain. Inhale deeply, allowing the air to reach your stomach and expanding it. The oxygen enters your lungs from the bottom, then the middle, and finally the top. The size of your chest and abdomen will expand. Steady and deep breathing takes in oxygen to the bottom of your lungs and exercises your diaphragm. The diaphragm moves downwards during inhalation.
Exhale: Follow your breath, first empty your stomach, lower lungs and upper lungs. Give your shoulders total relaxation. When you exhale, your diaphragm rises, compressing your lungs and forcing air out.
Take a yoga breath. The following rhythm is used: 7 (seconds or heartbeats) inhalation – 1 retention – 7 exhalation – 1 retention.
You can do this breathing exercise as often as you want. Yoga breathing helps us to inhale through our nose and enlarge our exhalations, which improves both our physical and mental health. After some practice, this will become your natural breathing pattern, requiring no additional effort.
What is the Three-Part Yogic Breath?
In Dirgha Pranayama, you can create a full and controlled breath by combining diaphragm, thoracic and clavicular breathing. This simple technique can be practised anywhere at the workplace or at home, and an immediate option for self-de-stress.
Types of Breathing:
Breathing processes are the movement of air out and in the lungs for exchange of air, most of them for carbon dioxide to flush out and oxygen to take in the internal atmosphere. There are four different types of breathing that you can do:
- Abdominal or diaphragmatic Breathing: When you respire deeply and longly, focus on inhaling and squeezing the stomach while exhaling the stomach.
- Thoracic Breathing: When you breathe up and out into the lungs. During that process you become aware of the lungs’ expansion, drawing into the air and dropping the lungs during exhalation.
- Clavicular Breathing: While you inhale into your lungs until the expansion is felt around the base of the neck in the upper part of the lungs. The shoulder and neck bone both are moving upwards. Exhalation starts at the base of the chest and works its way up to the throat.
- Yogic Breathing: This type of breathing combines all of the above in a single inhalation. You take slow, deep breaths, filling up the abdominal, chest, shoulder, and neck areas. Finally, you start to let go of the stomach first, then the chest, then the shoulder, and finally the spine.
By practising yogic breathing, you can gain a gamut of benefits. Let’s check a few of them.
Benefits of Yogic Breathing:
- Lowers Stress & Anxiety Levels
- Improves Digestion
- Treats Sleep Disorders
- Enhances Functioning of Brain
- Improves Cardiovascular Health
No doubt, to gain these benefits, it is crucial that you follow the below yogic breathing techniques.
There are 4 types of breathing techniques that we can follow:-
- Basic Breath Awareness:
Begin by becoming aware of your breathing; breath in and out through your nose, paying attention to the inhalation and exhalation. What’s the depth like? Be curious but nonjudgmental. Which way should we go? What about the level of excellence? There is no need to make any adjustments or changes. For a few moments, stay here.
- Deep Belly Breathing:
Breathe deeply with the hands-on your bellies and transfer the respiration from your chest to the abdomen. Assume you have a balloon in your stomach that expands into your hands on the inhale and flattens on the exhale. At the beginning and end of your Yoga session, or at any time during the day, try it for a few minutes.
- Ujjayi (“victorious”) Breath:
The key is to stay comfortable, to prevent a “snapping” sound from occurring. Spring in your nose, then open your mouth and slowly exhale, try to make it sound like “HA.” Attempt it several times, and then close your mouth and keep your throat in the same way as you did in the “HA,” while exhaling through the nose alone. Try to introduce this to your yoga practice and experience the oceanic breath waves that guide your action.
To begin with, take a full, profound inhalation and slowly exhale through the nose. Inhale again while keeping your mouth shut, then begin exhaling by quickly pulling in your lower abs to blow air out in small bursts. Between any active exhalation, the inhalation is passive. On the exhale, the pumping sensation should feel like someone is poking you in the belly. Try 10-20 breathings, take a break and try another round for a few deep, normal breaths.
Things To Mind during Breathing Yoga Practice:
- Inhale always while you are at the main position.
- Exhale as you bend sideways.
- Bending forward, exhaling.
- Every time the body leaves the middle, you exhale.
- The only exception is backward bending, which requires you to inhale.
- Breathing retention should not be attempted for those who suffer from high blood pressure or heart problems.
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