Theresa has been an advocate for alternative health therapies for 10 years. She is a pranayama advocate and student.
Importance of Breathing In Yoga
In yoga, the objective of pranayama breathing exercises to teach the yogi to properly inhale, exhale, or retain your breathing. Therefore, there are different branches of pranayama dedicated specifically for inhalation, exhalation, and breathing retention.
Pranayama helps the body rid itself of impurities and lower your pulse. Eliminating impurities is a function of exhalation. When any form of blockage or impurity is cleared, there is more room for the prana to enter freely.
Here, I'll discuss posture, the five steps of pranayama breathing, and the benefits of yogic breathing to your body.
How To Perform Deep Breathing
You can perform deep breathing regardless of your posture. 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 contract your muscles. Slowly draw the air in. Do not rush when you do this; instead, maintain a steady but gradual pace.
As you inhale air, allow your ribs to expand sideways. 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. Different stages of breath train the brain and your lungs to adapt to any form of breathing activity. Each stage of breathing in yogi prana is discussed below:
Stage 1 or "Breathing In": This stage is where inhalation begins.
Stage 2 or "The Pause": This is the first of two "resting" stages in deep breathing. It could either be short or long.
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.
Deep breathing properly is not easily mastered. Therefore, you need to put your mind to it! To begin mastering deep breathing, follow the given steps:
- Finding a comfortable position is a must before you begin deep breathing exercises. Sit or lay in a position where you can relax all of your muscles.
- Try to elongate your spine. Lengthen your neck vertebrae by vertebrae; lift your chin upwards. Make sure your spine is aligned with the back of your head.
- Close your eyes.
- Clasp your hands together near your sternum (as if to pray) while keeping your forearms parallel to the ground.
- Apply equal amounts of pressure to both palms.
- Relax your diaphragm and stomach muscles.
- Alternate inhalation and exhalation in four 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 five minutes.
Important Elements in Deep Breathing
The difference between the yogic deep breathing technique and regular breathing is that yogic breath makes full use of your lung muscles. However, the rate at which deep breathing is performed varies in accordance with 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 a calmer mind.
You may also consider the following elements as part of the pranayama in yoga:
The concept of yoga prana is based on the idea that something flows from inside you. It is therefore important for one to familiarize how to measure, control, and direct their breathing patterns. The teachings of Yoga Sutra propose 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 harmful toxins in the body that could intervene with the process of regulating your oxygen all across your system. The link between mind and breath is emphasized by the teachings of yoga. Therefore, it is only after you have achieved clarity of mind that you can facilitate proper breathing mechanisms required in yoga.
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 you gain consciousness around your everyday 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 the ultimate form of self-discipline.
Prana is the breath that you release outside of your body, while apana is the breath that 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 to ensure 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 to proper breathing techniques in yoga, most first inquire about the benefits. Learning how to properly execute breathing exercises while performing asanas is never easy. Hence, your knowledge of the benefits might motivate you to learn. A few benefits include:
- Deep breathing helps increase oxygen in your bloodstream. The oxygenated blood will then be transported throughout your entire body, which aids 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 more oxygen, you are using each lung's full capacity. This is good for the enhancement of your respiratory system.
- It regulates and activates the flow of energy.
Yogic breathing can improve your health and life. Please leave your experiences with pranayama in the comments below!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.