Your Autonomic Nervous System
Breathing is part of the autonomic nervous system, which is comprised of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. In general, the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for governing our responses to stimuli, deciding whether they are threatening, and tripping the signals that tell the body how to react. This is sometimes described as fight or flight responses.
The parasympathetic nervous system helps the body calm back down after the danger or stressor has passed. One of the things that the sympathetic nervous system effects is breath.
In the presence of real danger, the breath becomes fast and short as your body tries to load itself with oxygen to facilitate its escape. This kind of breathing is also a response to non-life-threatening stressors. It happens in response to panic and then perpetuates the panic.
When you’re aware of the effect of stressors on your sympathetic nervous system, you can deliberately slow and deepen the breath by signaling the body that it’s ok to calm down. Your breath is a powerful force you can use to control your body’s responses to stress.
The 10 Best Yoga Breathing Exercises
Whether you are an advanced yogi or just bought your first yoga mat, you can practice pranayama, which is the regulation of the breath through certain techniques and exercises. Pranayama is a Sanskrit word that means extension of the prana . It also means, breath control. When you control the breath and consciously regulate the flow of life force within your body, amazing things can happen. Just look at this statement from known expert Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Practicing a regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.
Thats a pretty amazing claim! Here are 10 of the best yoga breathing exercises that you can do on or off the yoga mat. Remember, you dont have to be a yoga expert to give any of these exercises a try.
Upcoming Breathwork Workshops At Yoga Room Hawaii
If youre interested in the power of pranayama and want to experience the mental clearing benefits of a breathwork practice, join Yoga Room Hawaii for one of our top-rated Breathwork workshops led by Studio Owner Eric Rosso.
Breathwork is a powerful and healing tool just like yoga and will have you, at minimum, walking away with a feeling of peace. You will only be using your breath. Theres no Asanas or physical movement and no heated room. Just your breath.
Breathwork has some incredible benefits. Physically, it has the ability to alkaline your body. Diseases have a hard living in alkaline states. Mentally, breathwork has the ability to release trapped emotions we all carry around.
Eric will facilitate your breathwork experience. He will share vital information before you start and guide you through what could be the most profound experience of your life.
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Yoga Breathing Exercises Safety Precautions
Breathing Is Most Important For Life Yoga Can Help Us Keep Ourselves Healthy Scholars Have Considered All Aspects Of Life In Yoga Sciences Whether It Is Eating Drinking Sleeping Or Breathing Or Many More Things We Need It To Make Our Brain Work Properly
Most people dont breathe until their full lung capacity they all forget to breathe properly together. There are breathing techniques that can not only help you teach you to breathe properly, but also help you make as much use of your total breathing capacity as possible. They are yogic breathing techniques that are used within practice.
The authorities on the practice of yoga breathing tell us that if we simply reverted to breathing correctly the way we were designed to do it would be the rarest person who contracted illness and disease. This is because deep breathing which is fundamental to yoga helps in maintaining our physical health. But it goes deeper than that. Once we understand the science of the breath, our happiness, mental sharpness, self-control, and even spirituality increase significantly.
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Why Is The Breath So Important
Breathing affects your respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular, and psychic system sand also has a general effect on your sleep, your memory, your energy level, and your concentration.
Everything you do, the pace you keep, the feelings you have, and the choices you make are influenced by the rhythmic metronome of your breath.
From the first to your last breath, breathing is at the core of your life. Think about it. You can survive a few months without eating and a few days without water. But youll only last a few moments without breathing. Without breath, there is no life.
However important the breath is, it can easily be affected by your surroundings and environment. Every day stressors, tensions and physical habits affect your breath. Without even realizing, your breath can slowly become shallow and superficial, creating unconscious breathing patterns and restricting the free flow of prana in your body.
For this reason, working the breath through breathing exercises, is so important.By learning different breathing exercises and techniques, youll slowly bring back awareness to your breath, undo bad breathing patterns and allow for the free flow of life force through the body.
When done right, breathing can have an energizing, relaxing and healing effect on the body and that is why practicing pranayama is so important.
Breath Of Fire Exercise For Beginners
Deeply ingrained in Kundalini yoga, a breath of fire is done by rigorous movement of the navel area while the whole body is still and relaxed. When you inhale, the navel area moves out and when you exhale, you deliberately push the navel towards the spine. It could be one of the challenging yoga breathing exercises for beginners, but once you master it, you feel like going on indefinitely.
Benefits of Breath of Fire
- Boosts the function of brains such as attention, reaction time, and memory
- Improves respiratory health and digestion
- Strengthens abdominal muscles
- Increases your overall mindfulness
Beginners Tip: If you feel dizzy or light-headed while practising yoga breathing exercises, you are advised to slow down the breathing pace. Pregnant women, women who are menstruating, people with high blood pressure, or who struggle with vertigo should not try it.
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Pranayama Breathing Exercises For Yoga Beginners
How often are you aware of your breathing? If youre like most people, probably not very often. Youll likely notice if it becomes difficult for some reason, like when youre running or at a high altitude, but most of the time our breathing doesnt require much attention because it looks after itself.
Thats because respiration is one of the involuntary systems that keeps our bodies running. But breath can also be controlled for specific effects. One of the best examples of this is how the breath affects the parasympathetic nervous system. When our bodies perceive danger, the fight or flight cocktail of hormones kicks in, which causes us to take quick, shallow breaths. We can calm our bodies back towards rest and digest mode by consciously slowing and deepening the breath.
The many ways of breathing with purpose are part of the practice of Pranayama, which is one of Patanjalis Eight Limbs of Yoga. Sharp, rapid breaths can warm and invigorate the body while full, deep breaths can cool and calm. Making your inhales and exhales the same length creates balance while exhaling forcefully releases excess heat. The five breathing exercises described below are often practised in contemporary yoga classes.
Top 5 Pranayamas for Yoga Asana Practice
Ujjayi is the breath that comes up most frequently in vinyasa-style yoga, because it helps you keep your breath deep and regular during long holds and continuous flows.
Option : Coffee Breathing Stimulating / Energizing Practices
When you breathe fast without moving, as if you were huffing and puffing from a sprint, your nervous system responds as if you were running. Coffee category breathing stimulates your sympatric fight or flight response and puts you in a ready state for exercise, busy work, and physical activities. These practices should be used first thing in the morning or just before exercise, but in all cases, it should be used sparingly.
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An Introduction To Breathing Exercises: A Beginners Guide
Breathing is inherently an automatic human function but when it comes to controlling your breathing in order to maximise physical performance not many can do this. Because of its natural nature you may think youll be fine breathing as normal, or as your body tells you to when your out for a jog or at the gym.
In this blog post well show you 3 beginner breathing exercises you can start right now.
On average we tend to breath anywhere from 14 to 20 breaths per minute as standard , which is about three times faster than the 5 or 6 breaths per minute proven to help you feel your best, says Patricia Gerbarg, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College and co-author of The Healing Power of the Breath.
Longer Exhale Than Inhale:
This technique follows on from the technique above. The difference however, is that instead of trying to lengthen both your inhale and exhale the aim is to exhale for longer than you inhale.
Having a longer exhale than inhale is said to make you feel calm and relaxed. And, as with the technique above the counting and concentrating gives your mind something to focus on if you have trouble switching off.
To begin find a comfortable position. Take a few moments to time your normal inhale and exhale.
Once you have established these breathe in as normal, then lengthen your exhale.
The eventual aim is to breathe for a 1:2 ratio, i.e your exhale is double the length of your inhale. Start by trying to lengthen your exhale by one or two counts and then go from there. When practice start with a 5-minute practice and gradually increase the time spent practising.
Try to do this routine one or twice a week, daily If you can, and see what benefits it brings you. If youve had a particularly stressful day at work or are feeling nervous about an upcoming event give these a go and see if they make a difference. I hope they do!
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Exercise 2 Long Exhale
Typically when we breathe, we dont fully inhale or exhale, but this particular yoga breathing exercise focuses on the exhale.
- Lie comfortably on the floor and lift your knees enough so your feet lie flat on the floor.
- Place your hand onto your abdomen.
- Become aware of the lengths of each breath, counting both the seconds on the inhale and exhale.
- If one is longer than the other, focus on equalling the lengths of each breath, keeping the rhythm smooth all the time.
- Now, start to gradually increase the exhale first by just one second, then two seconds, increasing it until it is up to double the length of the inhale.
- For example, if your natural inhale is three seconds, then maximise your exhale at six seconds.
- Take care not to feel uncomfortable as this will actually have the adverse effect and is likely to make you feel stressed, instead of relaxed.
This yoga exercise can be highly relaxing and aid sleep or insomnia. To this effect you may like to practice it in the evening, before bed. Or during the night if you are troubling to sleep. It is also beneficial for reducing anxiety though, so at times of stress this yoga breathing exercise can be a good trick to know.
What Class Is Right For Me
There are many styles of yoga classes taught today. Some are very physically challenging and will leave you sweating others are gentle and restorative. Some teachers play music in class others dont. Some classes include references to yoga philosophy and spirituality others dont.
Here are a few types of classes your yoga studio or gym may offer:
Hatha: Most yoga styles being taught in America today are a form of hatha yoga, which is a general term that refers to the physical part of yoga, rather than yoga philosophy or meditation. A Hatha yoga class is likely to be a combination of poses and breathing exercises, but its hard to know whether it will be challenging or gentle. Check with the school or the teacher to find more about the level of classes that are described only as Hatha yoga.
Ashtanga Yoga: This is a challenging style of yoga that is centered around a progressive series of yoga sequences that, traditionally, students practice on their own under the guidance of a teacher. If you think that yoga is not a workout, you havent tried an Ashtanga class. Classes include advanced poses such as arm balances and inversions including headstands and shoulder stands. Beginner students are strongly advised to study with an experienced teacher. Ashtanga classes will also often include teachings in yoga philosophy.
Note: Its a good idea to try several yoga classes. How much you enjoy any class will come down to how much you like the teacher, not how its labeled.
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The Benefits Of Pranayama
There are many benefits from having a regular Pranayama practice. For example, Pranayama is known to:
Reduces anxiety and depression
Lower and/or stabilized blood pressure
Lower heart rate to relieve tension
Purify the bodys channels, so that prana, or life force energy, can travel more easily
Increases energy levels
Reduces the signs of oxidative stress in the body
The effects of these breathing exercises on the body and mind can be profound, creating balance and shifting the energy noticeably.
Helpful Tips For Getting Started
If you are pregnant, or suffer from diabetes, high or low blood pressure, heart conditions, epilepsy, vertigo or any other health problem, please consult your health care provider before performing any of these breathing exercises.
Listen to yourself
As for anything, listen to yourself, and know your limits. If you feel any discomfort, stop your breathing exercise immediately and slowly return to a normal breathing pattern.
Patience and Practice
Breathing exercises might feel strange and uncomfortable in the beginning. But, with patience and practice you will get better. Your lung capacity will increase and exercises you once found hard will begin to be easier.
Be gentle with yourself
As with everything, listen to your body and be gentle with yourself. Your body will always tell you if youre pushing too much. Breathing exercises are good for you but its no reason to compromise the quality of your breath. Stay focused, bring awareness to your breath, but dont push it. With time, you will get better and will start seeing all the benefits of the practice.
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Yoga Breathing Exercises In Class
Beginners to yoga are given some time to learn in the introductory yoga classes. You may be forgiven if you forget to breathe when concentrating on learning the postures it is a lot to take in!
Dont be surprised if your yoga teacher instructs you to breathe many times through the class. It will be a reminder for you that it is important and a good habit to get into from the start of learning yoga.
However, it is also something that once you are rehearsed with the postures, you can then start to focus on introducing the yoga breathing exercises with movement of the postures.
Ashtanga yoga is particularly focused on matching deep breaths with every move.
Pranayama Breathing Is Conducted In Four Steps:
- Exhalation (rechaka
- Retention again, which is to take a pause before the next breath
Proper breathing doesn’t just involve the lungs. Like a baby, we should draw each breath deep into the abdomen. Lungs are like balloons, relying in the abdominal and chest muscles to draw breath in and exhale. Contracting the diaphragm and expanding our rib cage allows more room in the chest cavity for the lungs to expand. Relaxing the diaphragm back to its normal, curved shape helps push the air back out.
Properly coordinating all of these muscles helps you achieve balance through the core of the body and down the spine, radiating health and energy out through the extremities. It is similar to what flowers experiences in nature when they face the sun and draw its life-giving energy down through the stem and on to the roots and leaves.
For these exercises, you’ll need a yoga mat, if you have one, and comfortable, non-restrictive clothing. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Just keep your spine long and enjoy. Pranayama will become second nature to your body with practice.
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