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Importance of breathing right in yoga – breath awareness, techniques, and more.

Sep 14, 2020

 

Yoga today has attained new importance throughout the world. Everyone all over has realised the many benefits of this discipline. Yoga studios have popped up in every nook and cranny of all major cities of the world due to the steady increase of its followers. But there are a few questions that need to be asked here. How authentically is the yoga discipline taught? What are the factors that need to be kept in mind while practicing yoga to get maximum benefits? It is important to understand that yoga is just not about stretching ( yoga stretching) your flexibility. Complete yoga practice consists of pranayama, meditation, and asanas in which the maximum benefits can only be derived by control of the breath. The right breath in yoga helps to deepen its benefits on health and mind. Breath awareness, breath control, and correct breathing techniques are as important as performing the asanas.

While performing difficult yoga asanas, the instruction to breathe normally might feel lame. At that time we somehow try to maintain the yoga pose. But the main aim of the instructor is to remind us how important it is to breathe correctly. Once you get to know the right breath, you will be able to perform difficult asanas and can relax your body. Breathing correctly while practicing yoga can help to eliminate the different pains in the body, reduce the stress (yoga to relieve stress), and can further help to deepen the pose. The relaxation and awareness of breath is the only way to progress in the asanas.

Why breathing right is important in yoga?

Breath is often called the ‘bridge between the body and the mind’. The reason behind this is that we breathe even when we’re not fully conscious. It’s an involuntary action. But we can also control our breathing consciously. Therefore, we can call it as a two-way street. You can feel how your breath changes with various emotional and physiological emotions.

Thus, it is very important to concentrate on breathing while performing yoga. Pranayama, which means to control the breath, is one of the branches of yoga which opens a whole new world of insight into our mental and physical health through our breathing. Breathing is also an important tool in mindfulness meditation where you simply watch the breath without even controlling it.

What are the benefits of right breathing in yoga?

Take a glance at the benefits of right breathing in yoga and know why you should add it to your daily routine.

  • Breathing detoxifies

Your body is made to release 70% of its toxins through the process of breathing. So, if you are not breathing properly, then you are not releasing your body toxins completely. This can eventually lead to several breathing illnesses or other health issues. Deep breathing exercises help stimulate the lymphatic system which helps in the removal of toxins. These exercises also increase the oxygen intake which helps in the optimum absorption of vitamins and minerals.

  • Breathing releases tension

When you are tensed, scared, angry, or stressed,  the muscles of your body tighten and the breaths become shallow. Due to shallow breathing, your body does not get the amount of oxygen needed. Thus, breathing exercises will help you to release tension.

  • Breathing increases digestion

By performing breathing exercises, your digestive organs like the stomach, esophagus, intestines, etc.  will receive a good amount of oxygen. This will help these organs to operate more efficiently. Digestion is enhanced by the fact that the food is oxygenated efficiently.

  • Breathing improves the nervous system

If our brain, nerves and spinal cord receives more oxygenation they are more nourished and work efficiently. Thus, it helps to improve the overall health of the body. 

  • Breathing strengthens the lungs

When you breathe deeply during yoga practice or even when practicing some deep breathing exercises during the day, your lungs become healthier and powerful. It also prevents our body from many respiratory problems. So, practice the asanas with the right technique to get more benefits.

How you can add breathing exercises to your day?

Breathing exercises won’t take much time out of your day. It’s just only about setting aside a few minutes to focus on your breathing. Here are some ideas to begin:

  • First, just start with 5 minutes a day. Gradually increase the time as the exercises will become easier and comfortable for you.

  • If you feel that 5 minutes are too long, then you can also begin with 2 minutes.

  • Practice these exercises many times a day. Set your schedule times or just practice conscious breathing, when you feel the need.

What are the best Pranayama exercises for right breathing?

Pranayama in yoga is defined as the practice of breath control for purification, relaxation, and enlightenment (detoxifies body ). It is the best practice for breath control, which helps to calm the body and mind. Below are some simple and effective breathing practices which you can easily practice and gain inner stillness.

  • Nadi Shodhana Breath

It is also famously known as the alternate nostril breathing technique. This technique or exercise can instantly help to relieve stress and calms the mind. It also helps to maintain balance with breaths while performing yoga. 

 

C:\Users\acer\Downloads\Nadi-shodhan-pranayama.jpg

 

Steps to practice:

  • Sit on a comfortable surface.

  • Keep the left hand on the left knee with the palms open and up, or in the chin mudra.

  • Keep the head of the index finger and the middle finger in the middle of the two eyebrows.

  • Close the right nostril of your nose with the right thumb.

  • Then, gently inhale by the left nostril.

  • After a gentle and deep inhale, pause for a few moments, and exhale.

  • Repeat the same process with the left nostril by closing it with the ring finger or the little finger, and practice it for a few rounds.

 

Tips for right breathing

As you breathe, try to balance the brain, and remain engaged in the practice of the asana. It is best especially when done at the end of a long day when you’d like to calm the mind and enjoy peace and happiness.

  • Sahita Kumbhaka Breath

Kumbhaka is the state of pause or the gap between the breaths, done by intentionally holding the breath. It helps to find stillness with the help of a focused mind. 

 

C:\Users\acer\Downloads\Sahita-kumbhaka-breath.jpg

 

Steps to practice:

  • Sit in the easy pose on a comfortable surface.

  • Start with a gentle inhale.

  • Then try to take a pause and hold it for a few seconds at the top of the breath.

  • Now, exhale gently.

  • Then, hold your breath at the bottom of the breath for a few seconds.

  • Repeat the same process for five minutes, then return to normal breathing.

Tips for right breathing 

If you are not able to practice this pranayama regularly, you can practice it thrice a week. It will help you to take deep breaths with the right technique. This breathing pranayama can feel a bit unnatural at the beginning, but it can help you to achieve a relaxed mind with the right breathing technique.

  • Ujjayi Breath

It is also known as ocean breath. This is beneficial for cooling down the body and even calming the nervous system. It helps in tackling insomnia and stress. Try to practice this yoga practice in a place where you feel comfortable to breathe loudly.

 

C:\Users\acer\Downloads\Ujjayi-pranayama.jpg

 

Steps to practice:

  • Sit on a comfortable surface in the easy pose.

  • Start with inhaling and exhale by your mouth.

  • Try to keep your spine straight, while breathing.

  • Try to gently restrict the throat while breathing so that a soft hissing sound is generated similar to the sound of an ocean.

  • Once you are comfortable with the restricted breathing through the mouth, start to do the same by breathing in and out with the nose.

  • Repeat the same process for a few minutes. 

Tips for right breathing 

You will come to know that you are breathing right when your breath is occurring in a style of whooshing in and whooshing out rhythmically with the sound of ocean waves. It is an excellent breathing technique to be practiced during times of anxiety (yoga for anxiety) and mental strain.

  • Humming bee breath or bhramari pranayam

This helps to create calmness and is known for relieving stress, anxiety, and anger. So if you are tired of the daily work, perform this yoga technique.

 

C:\Users\acer\Downloads\Bhramari-pranayama.jpg

 

Steps to do it:

  • Sit on a comfortable surface in the easy pose.

  • Then, close your eyes and try to relax your face.

  • Now, place the index fingers on the ear cartilage then try to cover your ear canal.

  • Then, inhale deeply, and when you exhale, press your fingers on to your cartilage.

  • Keep your mouth closed and make a loud humming sound.

  • Continue it for as long as you can.

 

  • Deep breathing

Deep breathing helps to make you feel more relaxed. It also helps to avert air from getting trapped in your lungs, thus let you breathe in the fresh air.

 

C:\Users\acer\Downloads\Deep-breathing.jpg

 

Steps to do it:

  • First, stand on your toes, now draw your elbows back slowly and allow your chest to expand.

  • Now, take a deep breath by the nose.

  • Try to hold your breath at least for a count of 5.

  • Then gently release your breath by exhaling through the nose.

  • Sitali breath

This can help you to lower the body temperature and for relaxing the mind.

However, you need to inhale through your mouth while performing Sitali breath, thus choose a place far away from the air pollution.

 

C:\Users\acer\Downloads\Sitali-breath.jpg

 

Steps to do it:

  • First, sit in a comfortable position.

  • Then, curl your tongue so that you can bring the outer edges together.

  • If your tongue is not able to do this, you can perform this asana with the help of your lips.

  • First, inhale through the little hole made by the tongue or through the O shaped hole made with the lips. 

  • Then, exhale out through the nose.

  • Continue breathing for up to 5 minutes.

 

  • Coherent breathing

It is also known as resonant breathing. While doing asanas to achieve the rate of 5 full breaths per minute, you can try these techniques. This is the best yoga exercise for inhaling and exhaling for a minimum count of 5. Breathing at this rate helps to reduce stress and anxiety. It can also prevent the symptoms of depression.

 

C:\Users\acer\Downloads\Coherent-breathing.jpg

 

Steps to do it:

  • Sit in a comfortable position.

  • Inhale for a minimum count of 5.

  • Exhale for a count of 5.

  • Continue to follow this breathing pattern for a few minutes.
     

  • Equal breathing

Equal breathing is famous as sama vritti. This technique mainly focuses on your inhales and exhales length. This helps to make your breath smooth, which can further help you to maintain balance. If you get used to equaling breathing techniques, you can use it during your breath yoga classes or other daily activities.

 

C:\Users\acer\Downloads\Equal-breathing.jpg

 

Steps to do it:

  • Choose a comfortable seated position.

  • Then, breathe in by counting up to 4 and fill your lungs with air.

  • Then hold your breath for up to 4 counts.

  • Breathe out with your nose up to 4 counts.

  • Now, count on every inhale and every exhale to make sure that they are even in time.

  • If counting doesn’t suit you, you can choose a single word or any phrase to repeat during every inhale and exhale.

  • Continue practicing this breath for 5 minutes.

As you know, breathing is an important part of everyday life, whether you're doing yoga or not. Though in yoga classes we don't focus on our breath, breathing is also as important as the poses and it serves a greater purpose. Each inhale and exhale can help you energize, calm, and form an inner body connection. So, if next time you think Yoga, first think about breath, and then breathe deeply!



 

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